Books, Prehistory, Ten Years' Digging, Samuel Carrington 1849, Swinscoe aka Top Low Barrow

Swinscoe aka Top Low Barrow is in Samuel Carrington 1849.

The 5th and 12th of May were spent in opening an elliptical or "Long Barrow," near Swinscoe, called Top Low [Map], measuring about 15 yards long by 7 wide. From the section made in the course of our researches, it appears probable that it was originally constructed of the common circular shape, and that it had been lengthened by the accumulation of earth heaped over numerous interments that had taken place from time to time, as the mound was full of human bodies. This being the case, to avoid confusion, we will narrate the discoveries in the order in which they occurred, and refer to the Plan where each deposit is numbered so as to correspond with the description.

The first interment was discovered about four feet from the top of the barrow, in a shallow grave, three feet long, cut about six inches deep in the chert rock, having a stone placed on edge at each end. It was the skeleton of a young person, in a contracted position on the right side. The skull is well formed, and suggests no idea either of undue length or the contrary. It is thin and not large, the teeth are perfect, and but little worn; the bones are those of an adult of small size, the femur measuring 16½ inches. In the earth a few inches above the skeleton, we found a very small bronze clasp, which has been riveted to a strap, and, three-cornered piece of flint.

The second interment lay about three feet from the turf, on its right side, with the feet towards the flat stone at the head of the flrst skeleton; it had also an upright stone at the head, and a round ended flint was found near the feet. The skull is that of a young adult, thin in substance, and decidedly short in diameter between the frontal and occipital bones; the teeth are quite unworn. Length of femur 18½ inches.

The third skeleton had been partially disturbed, it was not far from the last, and lay with the face upwards, a large flat stone having been placed by its side as a guard. A neatly chipped spear-head of flint, turned grey by heat, was found near the shoulders; the head, thin in substance and a good deal decayed, is also of the brachy-cephalic type, the obliteration of the sutures and the abraded state of the teeth, indicate a perscm of middle-age. The femur measures 17½ inches.

The fourth deposit, which we found between the first and the third, consisted of the skeleton of a young hog, inside a roughly built cist, one side of which we destroyed before we were aware of its nature, the opposite side was supplied by a single flat stone, but the ends were built of rounded masses of rock. Along with this animal was a tine from a stag's horn.

No. 5 consisted of calcined bones, which had been deposited in a cinerary urn, ornamented with a chevron pattern, and was much broken when found; amongst them were portions of two neat bone implements, perhaps modelling tools of the potter, which had not been burnt, and part of a fine flint which had been destroyed by the action of fire.

The sixth was a skeleton which lay with the legs drawn up, on its left side, upon a thin layer of charred wood, about four feet from the top of the mound, in a slight depression oi the surface, and was accompanied by two flakes of flint, one of which may have served to point an arrow. The skull is that of an aged man, the teeth much worn down, and sutures indistinct; of the longer variety of the Celtic form. Femur 18 inches.

No. 7, a deposit of calcined bones with remains of flints, placed near the surface of the barrow, above the feet of No. 6.

The eighth was not far from the sixth. It was a skeleton very much decayed, buried three feet beneath the grass, having with it a very pretty arrow-head of white flint, and some pieces of a small and neatly ornamented vase.

The ninth was a double interment, compring two skeletons with a fiat stone on edge by their side. The lowest, which was four feet deep, was the skeleton of a full grown person, much decayed; by its side, but slightly higher, lay the skeleton of a child a few months old.

The tenth skeleton was found in a grave cut in the rock to the depth of three feet below the floor of the barrow, consequently above six feet from the summit; it had a circle of upright flat stones round the edge, and was filled with earth and large stones, covering the skeleton of an aged man, who was deposited in the customary fashion with the knees up, behind the pelvis lay a handsome drinking cup, 7¼ inches high, decorated with a lozengy pattern, and a few chippings of fiint were found in the grave. The skull is very thick, and unusually narrow or boat-shaped naturally; the latter peculiarity is increased by posthumous distortion, caused by the settling down of the large stones in the grave, by which one side of the calvarium has been broken and curled inwards.

The presumed site of the eleventh interment (not marked in the Plan), was near one end of the ellipse formed by the mound, which being chiefiy composed of stone, was here heaped over a space consisting of earth alone to the depth of four feet, amongst which were numerous rats' bones, pebbles, and a long triangular fiake of calcined fiint.

The twelfth was a pentagonal cist, about 18 inches diameter, and 18 deep, made of fiat stones and covered by a broad and thin slab; it was filled with earth, beneath which were some decayed bones, including part of a skull.

The thirteenth was close to the last; it was a very young skeleton, placed close to an upright fiat stone, and accompanied by one chipping of fiint.

The last interment was found at a short distance from the burnt bones forming the fifth, it presented no feature of interest, the skull being far gone in decay, and one piece of burnt flint only being found with it.

On a review of the facts, we are inclined to assign the post of honour to the cist containing the hog, which was placed nearest the centre, and which may be considered as a deposit analagous to the encisted heads of oxen before deposited. If this opinion be deemed incorrect, and a human interment sought for as the most ancient deposit, we must take the tenth in order of discovery as the first in order of time, as well as of importance, and conclude, that with the exception of No. 1, 2, and 3, which were probably interred simultaneously, the remainder were buried at intervals more or less distant from each other.