Books, Prehistory, Vestiges of the Antiquities of Derbyshire, Section I Tumuli 1844
Section I Tumuli 1844 is in Section I Tumuli.
Section I Barrows Opened by Mr Thomas Bateman (age 22) in 1844.
19 May 1828. In making a plantation north of Kenslow Wood, near Middleton-by-Yolgrave, on the 19th of May, 1828, the labourers discovered a natural cleft in the rock, which in some places rises to the surface of the ground, containing a quantity of human bones, and the remains of rats and other animals, amongst which was a large tooth of some carnivorous animal. On the supposition that this cleft might have been used as a ready-made cist for sepulchral purposes, it was fully investigated in April, 1844, without the effect of clearing up the mystery in which the deposit of the human bones is enveloped, no arrow-head of flint or fragment of urn being found to decide the question; there were merely found more bones, both human and otherwise: the former indicate the person to have been a female, and amongst the latter was the skull of either a wolf or a large dog. Though there is a doubt whether these remains were accidentally or designedly placed in the situation wherein they were discovered, there is none of their very great antiquity, for which reason their discovery has been considered worthy of record.
On the 6th of May, 1844, was opened a large flat barrow called Moot Lowe [Map], situated about one mile south-west from Grange Mill, in a field of considerable elevation and rocky surface. The tumulus is about fifteen yards in diameter, and about four feet high, with a level summit. The section was made by cutting through the centre of the barrow from east to west; when within about four yards from the middle, a secondary interment was discovered very near the surface, which consisted of a deposit of burnt bones placed in a large urn, measuring about sixteen inches in height, and thirteen in diameter at the mouth, which was broken, owing to its being so superficially covered; since being restored, it exhibits a very curious appearance, being ornamented in a different manner to any yet discovered in Derbyshire; when found, it lay on its side, and on carefully collecting the pieces, and the bones it contained, a small brass spear-head, or dagger, was found amongst the latter; it is three inches and a quarter in length, and has a hole through which it has been riveted to the handle or shaft; two very similar in size and form are engraved in Sir Richard Hoare's 'Ancient Wiltshire,' vol. i, plates 11, 28. This is the first recorded discovery of a weapon of this description in this county, though subsequent researches have proved them to be by no means rare.
Nearer the centre a much earlier interment was found, namely, a human skeleton with the knees drawn up, lying on some large limestones, and not accompanied by any utensils. The ground in the centre of the barrow was found to be four feet lower than the level of the native surface in other places, probably owing to the rocky and unequal surface of the field before mentioned; it was fiUed up with stones free from soil, to the level of the other ground, beneath which nothing was found, although such was expected to be the case. Dispersed through the mound the following articles were observed: teeth of swine and other animals, a small piece of another urn, chippings of flint, and a few rats' bones. About four hundred yards from the preceding there is a small portion of another barrow, also named Moot Lowe [Note. Presumed to be Moot Low 2 Barrow [Map]], which was long since almost razed to the ground; on the afternoon of the 6th of May the site was dug over, and a few human and animal bones brought to light; the former indicated the interment of two individuals, and the latter included the well-known rats' bones.
The 8th of May, 1844, was opened a barrow called Sliper Lowe [Map], upon Brassington Moor; this tumulus is about twelve yards in diameter, and not more than a foot in height, being probably much reduced by its being frequently tilled; which was made evident by the disturbed and shattered state of some human bones which lay just beneath the turf. On making sections through the mound from the four cardinal points, the remains of three human skeletons were found much disturbed; bones of various descriptions of animals, amongst them the skull of a polecat, same as those previously found at Bole Hill [Map], (July 30, 1843,) and rats' bones, a small fragment of a stone celt, five instruments of flint, and various chippings of the same. On arriving at the centre, a deposit of burnt bones was discovered, from amongst which were taken two arrow-heads, and two other instruments of flint. The surface upon which this interment lay was perceived to be soil, whilst the other parts of the barrow had a level floor of rock; this suggested the idea of a cist being cut in the rock, which on examination proved to be the case, as a circular cist was found to be sunk to the depth of two feet, on the floor of which lay the skeleton of a child, apparently about ten years of age, above this was deposited a drinking-cup of elegant form, and elaborately ornamented, and which when found was still in an upright position, as it had been originally placed. There were no traces of any ornaments having been buried with this juvenile Briton.
On the 10th of May, 1844, the more elevated portion of the barrow at Galley Lowe [Map], which was not thoroughly explored on the former occasion (August 24, 1843) was opened afresh. This part of the tumulus was found to be composed principally of stone having but a slight admixture of soil and being raised to an elevation of five feet its conical form being preserved by a circle of large limestones at the base inclining inwards. On the floor of the barrow no interment was discovered but amongst the loose stones about three feet from the surface was found a human skeleton near which upon a flat stone, was placed a deposit of calcined human bones. About a yard nearer to the centre of the mound, upon the same level, was another skeleton, apparently of a young person. Both these interments were unaccompanied by articles of any description, nothing being found but one piece of urn, which was noticed on refilling the excavation.
June the 10th, 1844, was opened a barrow [Map] upon Elton Moor, for which there is no distinctive name; it was on this occasion divided into four quarters by our sections, which left very little of the mound unexplored. In the usual central situation was found a previously-disturbed interment, accompanied by a large arrow- or spear-head of flint, a piece of a small urn neatly ornamented, and some animal teeth. On the southern side of the tumulus another interment was discovered, about eighteen inches below the natural surface of the land upon which the barrow was constructed; this skeleton was certainly that of an aged person, the teeth being much worn down; near the head was a piece of spherical iron pyrites, now for the first time noticed as being occasionally found with other relics in the British tumuli. Subsequent discoveries have proved that it was prized by the Britons, and not unfrequently deposited in the grave along with the weapons and ornaments which formed the most valued part of their store; even to the present day, the same mineral is used as a personal decoration by some tribes of the South American Indians. In the rear of the skeleton was a neatly-ornamented drinking-cup, which had been crushed by the weight of the soil, with which it had in a great degree become incorporated; within this cup the following odd assemblage of articles were placed: three quartz pebbles, one of which is red, the other two of a light colour; a flat piece of polished iron ore, a small celt of flint, with the peculiarity of having a round polished edge, instead of a cutting one as is usual; a beautifully-chipped cutting tool, twenty-one circular instruments almost all neatly chipped, and seventeen pieces, or rude instruments, all of flint, which had been turned to a delicate white or gray by calcination. Scattered about in the immediate neighbourhood of this interment were a good many pieces of burnt bones, not sufficient in quantity to compose a complete deposit, and a few rats' bones as usual.
On the 30th of July, 1844, was re-examined a barrow [Map] upon the Oldham Farm, Middleton, which was unsuccessfully opened by Mr. William Bateman, on the 18th of May, 1825, nor was this second investigation much more interesting, as the barrow proved in most respects the same as the one on Ringham Lowe [Map], which is within half a mile of the one in question. There were the remains of a large fire visible in the centre of this mound, upon the level of the undisturbed soil, where were also some pieces of sandstone and some quartz pebbles, neither of which are to be found in the neighbourhood. The only articles of human origin were several pieces of kneaded clay, partially hardened by the fire, and a broken piece of coarse pottery of very hard texture.
On the 31st of July, 1844, a small barrow [Map] on the One-ash Farm was opened; it was very low, being in no place more than a foot above the surrounding ground; owing to this circumstance the bones had been much disturbed and broken by the passing of the ploughshare over the mound. Near the centre of the barrow were the remains of a human skeleton, which had been accompanied by an ornamented drinking-cup, now broken to fragments; about the same place were perceived a great number of rats' bones, a few horse's teeth, a part of a boar's tusk, and a piece of rubbed sandstone, which had been burnt until it had become quite red, together with a few bits of flint. In other parts of the tumulus human bones were discovered, which would indicate this barrow to have been the resting-place of about six ancient Britons.
Since the above account was written it has been ascertained that this tumulus was opened in 1818, by Mr. Samuel Mitchell, who discovered part of a neatly-ornamented urn, about six inches in diameter, which had contained calcined bones; also some animal bones and an entire human skull.
On the 6th of August 1844 was opened a most interesting barrow upon Wardlow Common which is known by the name of Rolley Lowe [Map]; it is a mound of considerable magnitude, being forty-five feet in diameter, and five feet in height at the centre. As the discoveries made in this barrow are of a very miscellaneous character, and of various dates, it will be the most simple course to record them in the order in which they occurred: in the course of the central excavation, in which all the relics were found, about a foot from the surface, and dispersed amongst the soil which was found to be unmingled with stones to the depth of eighteen inches, were found a few human bones and teeth, and a third brass coin of Constantino the Great; near the bottom of this upper stratum of soil, where it began to be slightly mixed with stones, a brass pin, two inches and three quarters in length, square at the thicker end for insertion into a handle, was found. About three feet from the surface of the mound, a central area about eight feet in diameter was discovered, which seemed to be walled out in a circular form, and divided into five partitions by large limestones, so as to exhibit a ground plan similar to a roulette-table. There was no appearance of any of these vaults having been protected by coverings; when discovered, each was filled with small stones, amongst which lay the skeletons, which occupied all these partitions, whilst in one was also an urn. But to resume the particulars in the order before stated; in the first examined recess was a human skeleton, minus the head but complete in other respects; with this interment was deposited the under jaw of a child; in the next compartment was a skeleton without any accompaniment: in the following cist was a large and coarse urn, inverted over a deposit of calcined human bones, amongst which was a large red deer's horn, also calcined; the urn was about sixteen inches in height, and twelve in diameter; and, owing to its size and fragile texture, was broken to pieces in the attempt made to remove it; near the urn was a skeleton with a fine and well-preserved skull. In the last examined division, which was the northern-most, lay a human skeleton, with which were deposited a large horn from the red deer, and the jaw of an otter. Proceeding down about a foot lower than the level upon which all these skeletons were laid, another skeleton was found laid upon a large stone, on the level of the natural soil; it was accompanied by three rude instruments of flint, and the head lay directly beneath the large urn before mentioned: the stone in question measured in length six feet, and in breadth about four feet, being upon the surface of the ground it was at first thought to be rock but a piece being broken off, disclosed to view a sight such as is seldom witnessed by the barrow-digger, and which repays him for his frequent disappointments; this was a cist or vault, three feet in length, two feet in width, and eighteen inches in depth, formed of four smooth limestone slabs, having a fifth as a pavement, all the angles and joints having been so effectually secured by a pointing of tenacious clay, that not a particle of soil had entered this primitive coffin, the workmanship of which was in every respect neat and accurate. It was tenanted by a skeleton with contracted knees, whose bones, though much decayed, lay in the posture they had assumed on the decomposition of their fleshy covering; in the rear of the skeleton, was laid on one side a highly ornamented urn, of rude but chaste design, and in various situations in the cist were found two very neat arrow-heads of flint, of uncommon form, a large tusk of the wild boar, seven inches in length, and a piece of tempered clay, to which adhered some fragments of decayed wood. The excavation for the vault was made in the natural soil, and from the floor of the cist to the summit of the tumulus was at least six feet six inches. The undermentioned articles, which did not appear to be connected with any of the interments, were found in various situations, throughout the interior of the barrow; namely, a fragment of an ornamented drinking-cup, a spear-head of coarse flint, and similar workmanship, a few animal teeth, and rats' bones "ad infinitum." The outer circumference of the major part of this barrow was constructed of some description of clayey composition, which had become as hard as a turnpike road.
In August, 1844, some labourers baring in a rocky field on Upper Haddon Moor, in order to open a stone pit, happened to cut through the site of a barrow, and found a quantity of human bones, which, on examination of the place on the 7th of August, were found to have been laid upon the level surface of the rock, which is about a foot below the turf; they consisted of parts of the skeletons of six individual and were accompanied by various kinds of animal bones including rats; some fragments of a plain unornamented urn, pieces of flint, and a beautiful arrow-head of the same material, which had been calcined to a delicate white colour.
On the 12th of August, 1844, another barrow [Map] upon the Cross Lowe Farm was opened. It is situated on a ridge of rocky land which overlooks the village of Alsop-in-the-Dale [Map]; and which, in the part occupied by the tumulus in question, is covered with trees. The mound is not more than eighteen inches in height, though, owing to its elevation on a rocky knoll, it appears considerably higher; in the centre was found a cist constructed of rough limestones placed on an edge, in which was deposited at full length a human skeleton, whose head lay towards the south-east, at which extremity of the cist was a deposit of calcined human bones; at the other end of the vault was the skeleton of a child, the bones of which were entire and unburnt; besides these, a few animal teeth, quartz pebbles, and rats' bones were found strewed about the interior of the cist.
In the afternoon of the same day was opened another barrow, situated upon Alsop Moor, in a field called Painstor [Map]; it is a long and irregularly-formed mound, in the centre of which a female skeleton in a very decayed state was found, uninclosed in any cist, and unaccompanied by any urn or ornaments. Incidentally were found in the interior of this tumulus several horse's teeth and two rude instruments of flint.
October the 8th, 1844, a small barrow about thirty yards from the outer circle of the Druidical temple at Arbor Lowe was opened; it was found to have been previously investigated, although no record of that circumstance is in existence, which is much to be regretted, as its proximity to the temple renders any discoveries that may have been made of more importance than usual; on this occasion, the cist was found to be nothing more than a grave dug about four feet deep in the ground; the only article found in this grave was a piece of very much oxydized iron, which has the appearance of having been the socket of a spear-head.