Books, Prehistory, Archaeologia Volume 9 Section XVII
Archaeologia Volume 9 Section XVII is in Archaeologia Volume 9.
Sir, Whittington, March x5, 1788.
John Webster, a farmer at Smiril in the county of Derby, occupies some land belonging to Lord Viscount Howe, which gives him a privilege on Middleton-moor, and wanting this year to burn some lime, he dug for that purpuse into a Tumulus or Low , on that part of the Moor called Garret-piece, and began his work at the bottom of it, on a level with the circumjacent ground.
The Low is about half a mile South-east of the Arbelows [Map], or Arbourlows [Map], of which you have some account in the VIIth volume of Archaeologia [a] ; and when the farmer had proceeded in digging to the center of it, and diredtly under the depression at the top (the Lows generally having a cavity or hollow on their summits he found the three pieces of brass, of which a drawing made by the accurate hand of our worthy and very useful member, Hayman Rooke (age 64), Esq. accompanies this short memoir [b]. The remains of the body there interred, or rather covered with the Low, (for it was laid on the natural ground) were but few, lying East and West, and the round jewel, No. 3, was found placed near the point of the shoulder.
Note a. Mr. Maty observes, whoever goes to Derby must needs know the Lows .... very well? Review, Nov. 1785, p. 351, but now the Lows are not near Derby. However, in p. 131, of Archaeologia, for long; read laeg; and p. 140, for Arax, r. Arwr these being two very material errors.
Note b. See pl. IX.
I have but little to say, Sir, on the subject of these very ancient, and perhaps druidical remains. N° 1, which is a circular fragment, very thin and light, 7 inches diameter, and 3 inches high, has a little shallow groove round its bottom, as if intended to receive a band or fillet, for the purpose of tying and fastening it when complete (for it is now miferably broken and shattered) to the breast, or head, of the party that wore it; if the former, as a gorget or breast plate, if the latter, as an helmet or skull-cap. N° 2, feems to have been part of the clasp; and N° 3, to partake of the nature of a Bulla, or other Amulet; or perhaps was only a meer ouche or ornament. Both these are of the size of the drawing. The vermicular or scroll work on both was no doubt at the time thought to be very fine, having been enameled ; and probably these two reliques had been esteemed the greatest valuables the owner had in his possession, it being usal, in remote antiquity, to bury such Cimelia with a corpse.
However, Sir, though the nature and use of these reliques be hidden in almost impenetrable darkness, and can only be the subject of very vague conjecture, I am nevertheless of opinion, and you, I flatter myfesf, will concur with me, that the representation of them, here sent, may be well worth preserving; since some future happy discovery may possibly happen to illustrate them, or they, in their turn, may contribute to elucidate antiques that still lie buried in the ground, and may hereafter come to light.
I am, Sir, with great respect,
your most obedient, humble servant,
P. S. Soon after I had dispatched my letter to you relative to the above discovery, that useful and worthy magistrate, Douning Rasbotham, Efq. of Birch House, Farnworth, near Bolton in the Moors, Lancashire, was pleased to send me a drawing, made by himfelf, of a very extraordinary and curious small vessel, no larger than the drawing [c] ; and I here transmit it to you, and through your hands to the Society, by way of deriving either from some one of that learned body, or from some happy discovery which may happen to be made hereafter, some plausible explanation of it.
The account received with the draught of this rude piece of pottery was as follows; "that it appears to have sustained no greater heat in baking than that of the Sun;" was dug up last summer in the township of Clifton, about 4 miles north of Manchestre, on the banks of the river Irwell, by some workmen who were sinking a trench, from a bed of gravel, which did not seem to have been ever stirred before; and, that along with it lay a few bones, and amongst them part of a skull apparently human, all which, with whatever else was buried with them, were thrown into the river.
Two things respecting this vase immediately strike the imagination. First, to consider, what ancient nation it may be ascribed to ; and, secondly, to determine to what use and purpose it might probably serve.
As to the first point, I seem to be decidedly of opinion, leaving it however open unto better and more skillful judges, that from its being fo imperfectly baked, so coarfly ornamented with a sort of zigzag, and so long interred that the gravel it lay in had the appearance of never having been removed, it cannot be a Roman , but rather must be a British , or Druidical remain. And in support of this notion, I beg leave to observe, that mean as this vase appears, it probably was the most valuable moveable the party deceased had been possessed of.
The second particular mentioned, viz. the use and destination of the vessel, is a topic fo perplexing, that I profess it exceeds all hariolation of mine. As the bottom is convex, it was apparently intended to be held in the hand, and yet it could not be a drinking cup, as the two parallel perforations on the side, not far from the bottom, excise every idea of that sort. And indeed this strange circumstance of the perforations renders this vase to me perfectly inexplicable in regard to its use. The Society has the drawing before them, and both Mr. Rasbotham and myself intreat the favour of some rational elucidation of this singular and very puzzling object from some of the learned members.
Note c. See pl. IX. fig. 4.