Books, Prehistory, Ten Years' Digging, Samuel Carrington 1851

Samuel Carrington 1851 is in Ten Years' Digging.

Barrows Opened By Mr Carrington In 1851, Principally In Staffordshire.

On the 1st of March we resumed our labours for the season, having obtained permission to excavate two barrows near Broad Low Ash [Map], in a field to the right hand of the road leading from thence to Ashbourne, from which town they are about two miles distant. They are not more than ten yards asunder, and their diameters are respectively seventeen and twenty-two yards. We selected the least for examination first, and found it to consbt of stiff earth, with many large stones in the centre. On sinking down at this point, we found human bones that had been displaced to make room for a later interment; beneath was a grave cut one foot deep in the uatural soil, which was about a yard from the summit of the mound. The first undisturbed interment lay on the natural level, close to the north-east side of the grave. It was a skeleton reposing on its right side, with the head to the north, having with it a small spear-head of flint, and near the skuU a deposit of calcined human bones, containing two neatly chipped flints, both fractured from having been burnt with the body. We have here a double interment, by inhumation and cremation, suggesting a barbarous rite. Within the grave was the skeleton of a young person, lying on the right side, in the same direction as the others. Before the face was a very neatly ornamented vessel of clay, 5½ inches high, inverted upon the smooth side of a large boulder; and a small spear-head of flint. The ornamentation of the vase has been effected in part by a flat-sided pointed instrament, and partly by the thumb nail.

On the 8th of March we examined the largest barrow at Broad Low Ash [Map], which is so near the road as to have lost a part of one side by the fence, although the centre remained perfectly intact. By digging a trench, nine feet wide and eighteen feet long, through the middle, we found it to be entirely composed of earth, except in a place about two yards from the roadside, where there were a number of stones about a foot beneath the surface, and near them some charcoal, with burnt bones in small quantity, and flakes of flint. No other trace of interment was found.

In other barrows similarly composed of earth, flat stones and scattered bones have been found near the summit, all below being formed of solid earth, frequently in strata of different colour, which have evidently never been disturbed, whilst the most careful search has failed to discover any deposit in the usual situation on or below the natural soil; whence we may conclude that in this by no means unfrequent class of tumuli, the interment (generally by cremation) was for some reason placed near the surface, where it was so liable to destruction by cultivation and other causes so as to render it a matter of surprise that any remnants should have been preserved to the present day.

Books, Prehistory, Ten Years' Digging, Samuel Carrington 1851, Calton Moor

On the 26th of April, we opened a barrow near Calton Moor House [Calton Moor House Barrow [Map]], thirty yards diameter, consisting of earth only, which, though much lowered by ploughing, and further mutilated by a driving-road for cattle having been cut through it, was fortunately not sufficiently injured to affect the original interment, which consisted of a simple deposit of calcined bones, placed exactly in the centre of the barrow, without either cist or accompaniment save charcoal, which spread out from the bones over the natural surface for some distance. We dug in other parts of the mound without meeting with further interments, but we found a few flints, including a barbed arrow-head, and a flake from an instrument which has had a polished surface.

Books, Prehistory, Ten Years' Digging, Samuel Carrington 1851, Ecton Hill

On the evenings of the 12th and 13th of May, we opened a second barrow [Ecton Barrow 3 [Map]] upon Hang Bank, about 300 yards east of that [Ecton Barrow 1 [Map]] previously examined. The diameter is about sixteen yards^ and the mound appears perfect; but notwithstanding its promising exterior, nothing of importance was discovered, a small deposit of burnt bones only being laid in a depression in the natural soil. About a foot from them were two pieces of flint — one a rounded, the other a pointed instrument which seems designed for an arrow-head. The barrow being raised on a ridge of rock was not so deep as it appeared, having an elevation of about two feet in the centre. It was found to be composed throughout of earth, although the neighbourhood abounds with stone, and was so completely excavated that we are satisfied no other interment has ever been made.

On the 24th of May we examined a mutilated barrow, near Ballidon, Derbyshire, in a field called Back Low Close, having in the middle a large stone, which being removed we found the remaining depth of the mound to be about two feet. From this point we extended our excavation around till it became evident that the whole had been plundered. We merely found the remnants of an urn, with bones and teeth of animals, and a little charcoal.

Another barrow in the same field had been removed some time before, when a skeleton, accompanied by a vessel, and lying in a cist, was found, and of course destroyed. At the time of our visit one edge only of the mound remained, from which we obtained burnt bones, charcoal, and rats' bones.

On the 14th of June we made several cuttings in the conspicuous barrow on WolfscoteHill [Wolfscote Hill Barrow [Map]], which was opened in 1844, the first of which was from the south west side. We continued it for about four yards, and found the actual height of artificial material to be six feet, consisting entirely of stone, small above and increasing in size towards the base, where the stones were arranged so as to incline to the centre. Another opening was made at the east side, where the stone was intermixed with earth abounding in rats' bones, splinters of human bone, and flakes of flint.

Books, Prehistory, Ten Years' Digging, Samuel Carrington 1851, Sheen

On the 21st of June we made an excavation in the centre of a large tumulus, at the Brund [Brund Low [Map]], near Sheen, measuring 38 yards diameter and nine feet high, composed of earth. About half way down we found a deposit of calcined bones, much decayed, the teeth being most conspicuous amongst the fragments. Near them was a triangular sandstone, in which a circular cavity had been artificially worked, like that found at Elkstone on the 31st of August, 1850. By filling up the cutting, we found a flint that had been chipped to a circular form.

On the 16th of July we made another parallel trench, near four yards long, which at the north end was two yards deep, and gradually increased to three at the other extremity, before reaching the undisturbed surface. We found no interment, but observed a little charcoal, and picked up two chippings of flint, and another of the sandstones, with a cup-shaped cavity worked in it. The stone in this case was too large for carriage, so we cut out the part with the cup. Capsular stones of this kind are not uncom* monly found in tumuli on the Yorkshire moors, especially in the neighbourhood of Pickering, as will be seen further on in this volume. I was also told by Mr. Rhind that he had found the same inside the primitive structures called "Picts' Houses," in Caithness. We were told that the apex of this barrow had been much lowered some time since, when a bronze weapon, half a yard in length, was found.

On the 11th of July we examined a third barrow, at Three Lows, Wetton [Three Lows Barrow 1 [Map], Three Lows Barrow 2 [Map] or Three Lows Barrow 3 [Map]], in a line with the two previously opened. It is a large shallow mound, and yielded nothing but charcoal, although several trenches were made in it.

On the 15th of July we made an excavation, four yards long by three wide, in a barrow in the garden at Newton Grange, near Tissington, Derbyshire. The mound measured fifteen yards diameter and four feet high, and is composed of stiff earth, mixed with chert, amongst which we observed charcoal and a few chippings of flint at intervals from the surface to the natural level, where there were some pieces of calcined bone, a piece of coal, and an iron nail, the two last shovring that the barrow had been previously opened. On the same day we dug a hole in the middle of another barrow [Crake Low Barrow [Map]?], on a hill at Newton Grrange, looking towards Parwich, the dimensions of which were twenty-eight yards diameter by two feet six inches in height, finding it composed of earth and gravel, but making no discovery.

On the 18 th October we turned over a space of about twelve square yards in the centre, for the most of which we found the natural level strewed with charcoal and burnt earth, where were also a few rude flints, but no trace of interment. We likewise tried other parts of the barrow without success.

On the 17th of July we opened a barrow [Sheen Barrow [Map]], close to the road from Sheen to Holme End, measuring 28 yards diameter. It was lowered about four feet in 1837, and is now two feet high? constructed of sandstones and earth. Several trenches were cut, and at length a deposit of calcined bones was found on the natural surface, about ten yards from the south edge of the barrow. At a little distance were two arrow-points, and a circular-ended instrument of flint. A little further from the bones was a small piece of the edge of an urn. A great deal of charred wood was found upon the natural surface, about the south-east side.

Books, Prehistory, Ten Years' Digging, Samuel Carrington 1851, New Inns

On the 9th of August we examined the remains of a barrow which had been raised upon a rocky mound near New Inns, Derbyshire, finding only broken human bones, teeth of rats and other quadrupeds, with flakes of flint and pieces of earthenware.

We then proceeded towards Cold Eaton, where in a pasture field, between Green Low [Map] and Net Low [Map] barrows, opened in 1845, are two more large flat barrows, previously unnoticed. That opened on the present occasion was nearest Net Low. It was about twenty yards across, with a central elevation of eighteen inches, and was entirely composed of earth. The original deposit was placed in a circular hole, eighteen inches diameter, sunk about six inches in the stony surface of the land on which the barrow was raised, so that the entire depth from the top of the latter was two feet. The interment consisted of a quantity of calcined human bones, which lay upon a thin layer of earth at the bottom of the hole, as compactly as if they had at first been deposited within a shallow basket, or similar perishable vessel. Upon them lay some fragments of iron, parts of two bone combs, and twent-eight convex objects of bone, like button-moulds.

The pieces of iron have been attached to some article of perishable material; the largest fragment has a good-sized loop, as if for suspension. One of the combs has been much like the small-tooth comb used in our nurseries, and is ornamented by small annulets cut in the bone; the other is of more elaborate make, having teeth on each side as the former, but being strengthened by a rib up the middle of both sides, covered with a finely-cut herring-bone pattern, and attached by iron rivets.

The twenty-eight bone objects consist of flattened hemispherical pieces, mostly with dots on the convex side; in some, dots within annulets. They vary from half an inch to an inch in diameter, and have generally eight, nine, or ten dots each; but these are disposed so irregularly that it would be difficult to count them off hand, which leads to the conclusion that these counters would not be employed for playing any game dependent upon numbers, like dominoes or dice, but that they were more probably used for a game analagou& to draughts. This is most likely to be the fact, as draughtmen have occasionally been found in Scandinavian grave mounds; and we must assign this interment, if not to the Danes, still to the Pagan Saxons, whose customs were in many respects identical. All the articles found in this barrow have undergone the process of combustion, along with the human remains.

On the 14th of August we opened the companion barrow, which was about the same size, by turning over much of the centre, when we found nothing but three pieces of late pottery, apparently of Romano-British ware; but on the 20th of December we again made an excavation on the eastern side of the mound, where it was partly constructed of loose stones, and there found the greatest part of the skeleton of an ox, accompanied by a few rats' bones and some more pieces of the same kind of earthenware.

On the 7th of August we made a little further trial in the barrow at Slip Low, near Wetton (first opened 12th September, 1846), and in the south edge found the skeleton of a young person and a few pieces of flint, and near the surface a piece of urn.

On the 30th of August we opened a barrow near the turnpike road, a few hundred yards north of Newton Grange, composed of earth, measuring thirty-six yards diameter, and two feet high in the middle, where, sinking down, we came to a depression three feet wide, cut about a foot deep in the loose upper beds of rock. It was filled with ashes and charcoal, amongst which were bazel nuts, but no trace of interment, except some pieces of an um and a slender arrow-point of burnt flint A few more bits of flint were found in other places.

On the 12th of September we examined a small barro^w at Calton, Staffordshire, without success, finding only animal teeth and a few bits of calcined human bone.

Books, Prehistory, Ten Years' Digging, Samuel Carrington 1851, Wetton

By referring to the 8th of June, 1849, it will be seen that we then opened a barrow at Longlow [Map], near Wetton, situated amongst mine hillocks, from which circumstance we overlooked the singular structure of which that barrow forms the termination only. At the distance of 220 yards, S.S.W., is another bowl-shaped barrow [Long Low Bowl Barrow [Map]], sixteen yards diameter, and between the two is an artificial ridge or vallum, running the whole distance and connecting them; its average height is about four feet, but in some parts it increases to six feet. It is constructed by a central wall, built of large stones nearly to the required height of the ridge, against which flat stones of all sizes have been inclined, so as to save material; finally, the whole has been coyered with small stones and earth, so as to form a regular slope from each side to the summit, along which at present runs a high stone wall, which had long prevented us observing the true character of this very remarkable work. Many of the stones used in its construction appear to have been quarried, while others have, no doubt, been collected from the sur&ce of the land. In several places opened at intervals along its course, we found very numerous fragments of human bone, skeletons of rats, weasels, &c., and a substance resembling old mortar, whilst on the undisturbed surface there was a good deal of charcoal which had not been burnt on the spot, but had been scattered about.

On the 27th of September we opened the barrow at the S.S.W. extremity, and found the interior arrangement of its centre to consist of a row of broad flat stones, set on end in the natural soil for the length of about eleven feet, in a line with the connecting ridge, and terminating at the N.N.E. end, in the middle of a wall built at right angles, three yards long and one high. In the western comer, formed by their junction, we found burnt bones scattered all the way down from the top, accompanied by no instrument, and by but few rats' bones.

On the 11th of October we examined the remains of a large barrow between Parwich and Pike Hall, Derbyshire, consisting of a segment about eight yards wide, crossed by a wall. The original circle was plainly discernible, measuring nearly thirty yards across. We found an imperfect human skull, a piece of flint, and some other bones, about two feet deep in the imdisturbed part. When the mound was destroyed a few years before, several skeletons being foimd, it was considered by the natives as the burial place of those who had fallen in Oliver Cromwell's wars, the finder stating that one of the skulls had a slice cut '* clean " off the side by the stroke of a sword, and that he found a brass plate from the hat of one of the soldiers. The latter was unfortunately lost before our visit.

Books, Prehistory, Ten Years' Digging, Samuel Carrington 1851, Leek

On the 29th of December we proceeded to excavate the Cock Low barrow [Map], close to the town of Leek, a large mound forty yards diameter and eighteen feet high, composed of sand, and raised above a natural surface of red sand, unmixed with any other tint. After cutting a square six yards each way down the centre to the depth of five feet, we came to a layer of ashes and charcoal, resting on a stratum of white sand. Among the former were some small pieces of an urn, a few pieces of calcined human bone, and a round-edged instrument of flint. Besides these we observed nothing; and it does not appear that any interment had ever been deposited on the natural level, in which respect the barrow resembles many other large mounds of earth in which an interment by cremation has been made at a high level or near the summit.

The following notice appeared in the Derby Mercury of January 7th, 1852 — "On Tuesday, some degree of excitement was caused in Leek by the circumstance that Mr. Bateman had sent an exploring party to open the Cock Low, a barrow standing on part of the property of Mrs. Watt. The party worked vigorously on Monday and Tuesday, and were so far successful in their search as to find the usual deposit of charcoal, &c. They found one instrument and a small piece or two of bone, which, however, pulverised on coming into contact with the air. The party began their cutting a few yards to the south of the centre, and continued to sink the opening until they arrived at the original surface, which is about six yards below the present surface of the tumulus, and was indicated by being of the same red sand as the surrounding surface of the field, and by its being unmixed with charcoal or any other extraneous substance. It appeared evident, from the appearances presented by the cutting, that when the tumulus, at its formation, had attained to within five feet of its present altitude, a large fire had been kindled upon it, as was manifested by the abundance of ashes and charcoal found at that elevation, amongst and nearly in the centre of which they found a few fragments of an earthen vase or urn, and one of those small rounded flints, for which conjecture has as yet assigned no certain use. Below and in contact with this layer of charcoal and ashes was a layer of white sand, and it was surmised that this lightness of colour might have been the effect of the fire; and in this idea Mr. Carrington coincided, or at least conceded to have been well founded. On and about these particular spots Mr. Carrington bestowed the most minute attention, as he believed that there the body had been calcined; and he was the more inclined to believe this opinion from the fact that there were no indications below of any kind to lead him to infer that any interment had ever taken place at a greater depth. With the exception of a very few tumuli, Mr. Bateman and Mr. Carrington have always found tliat, in all barrows compoiftd entirely of soil, as in the present instance, nothing has been discovered except a deposit of calcined bones, charcoal^ and a few flint ins^raments, arrow-heads, &c., accidentally dropped there during the ceremony, or brought casually in the earth of which the mound has been formed. The opening of the tumulus has led to this satisfactory result — that there no longer remains any doubt that this barrow has been a place of interment; and although it has added nothing to the museum of the gentleman who has been at th^ cost of the imdertaking, he has had the satisfaction of imparting much gratification to many anxious observers; and we trust not without having added something to the fund of information he has amassed upon this subject."