Books, Prehistory, Ten Years' Digging 1850

 Ringham Low Calton Low Hasling Houses Hill Head Vincent Knoll Brushfield

Ten Years' Digging 1850 is in Ten Years' Digging.

Books, Prehistory, Ten Years' Digging 1850, Ringham Low

On the 26th of February, another section was made in the barrow near Kenslow, called Ringham Low [Map], which had been examined twice previously without much success. A few more pieces of Romano-British pottery like that found before, indicated that three urns had been interred in the mound, which consists entirely of earth, and is much like the small barrow at Minning-low, opened 20th July, 1849.

On the 7th of March, we opened a small barrow near Church Sterndale, mostly composed of earth, with a few stones on the level of the natural soil; without being able to find any interment.

Books, Prehistory, Ten Years' Digging 1850, Calton Low

On the 2nd of May, we examined some of the tumuli on Calton Pasture, near Chatsworth, of which there are at least seven, all more or less mutilated.

The first [Probably Calton Barrow 1 [Map]] of those opened by us was a large flat barrow, about seventj feet diameter, and four high, situated in a field adjoining "The Hospital Field," consequently not in the large open Calton Pasture, though close to it. It was composed of sand and small stones, increasing in size towards the centre, where was a large cist vaen constructed of sandstones, which we found had been broken up very recently before our visit; we found only a few scattered burnt bones, and pieces of lead ore, which had undergone the action of fire.

The next [Probably Calton Barrow 2 [Map]], near "The Beech Plantation," had been a conical mound, covering an area fourteen yards in diameter, but was much mutilated by the centre being removed. It had originally been constructed as the last, with a central cist surrounded by stones and sand, and had contained a deposit of calcined bones, accompanied by a small vase, neatly ornamented, of which we found some fragments.

The third [Probably Calton Barrow 3 [Map]] was a small mound connected with some earthen ridges rather lower down in the Park; it was soon found to have been pillaged, and was therefore as speedily abandoned.

The fourth [Probably Calton Barrow 4 [Map]] and last that we examined, is near the fence separating the estates of the Dukes of Devonshire and Rutland, and is a bowl-shaped barrow, about fourteen yards across and four feet high. We worked for some time more hopefully than at the former mounds, as it did not appear to have been so much disturbed, although we ultimately found that it had. It was principally formed of stone, with but little earth, and we found that the interment had been placed in a depression in the natural surface in the centre, which had been cleared out by former excavators. From the presence of burnt lead ore, and a piece of pure lead, it is probable that the interment had been by cremation as in the others.

Books, Prehistory, Ten Years' Digging 1850, Hasling Houses

On the 3rd of June, we opened a barrow at Hasling Houses [Map], near Buxton, measuring about twelve yards across and three feet in height, chiefly composed of tempered earth, except in the centre, where were a good many stones, covering a grave cut from east to west, about eighteen inches deep. Within it lay at length the skeleton of a powerful man of middle age, with the head to the west, who had been buried either within a coffin, or upon a thick plank with another above him, in order to keep off the pressure of the stones. In the earth, about a foot from the skull, we, found a rude instrument of flint, probably unconnected with the interment, and brought with earth from the neighbouring field as material for the mound. The femur measures 19½ inches; and both bones of the left leg had been fractured just below the knee, and strongly re-united by the formation of osseous substance many years before death. The body was most probably that of a Saxon.

In the afternoon we examined the remains on Foxlow Hill [Map], near Buxton, where, in addition to some inconsiderable earthworks, there is the base of a large tumulus, the upper part of which had been removed to within a few inches of the rock. We found many traces of its former contents in the shape of human teeth and rats' bones, but all in the utmost confusion.

Books, Prehistory, Ten Years' Digging 1850, Hill Head

On the 5th of June, we opened a barrow [Hill Head Barrow [Map]] on the Hill Head, an eminence in the neighbourhood of the last. The mound is about twelve yards across, and presents the appearance of having been much reduced, the height being nowhere more than eighteen inches. The centre had been disturbed with the effect of displacing the skeletons of three or four persons and some calcined bones; the earth around did not appear to have been moved, as masses of rats' bones occupied their original level. Notwithstanding the unfavourable condition of the barrow, we collected 81 jet ornaments, composing a handsome necklace that had accompanied one of the skeletons, they comprise 53 cylindrical, and 11 flat beads, 12 conical studs, and five out of the six dividing plates requisite to form the decoration: the plates are plain, and the centre pair are perforated for eight beads to go between. It is likely that many more of the very small flat beads would have been found if the tumulus had not been before disturbed; those that were found being collected with much trouble from an area of many feet, instead of lying near the head of their owner.

In the afternoon we opened another barrow [Staker Hill Barrow [Map]] to the west of the last, on Stakor Hill, which at first appeared nothing more than a natural ridge of rock, terminating with a rounded end rather higher than other parts; but on cutting down in the centre, it was found to be a barrow, and that it had been disturbed thereabout. A grave, about a yard deep, had been cut in the rock, and roughly walled round, and had contained at least two skeletons. By removing one of the wall stones, we found a small bronze awl, similar to several others in the collection at Lomberdale House [Map], which had been inserted into a wooden handle as a tool for piercing skins or leather. The grave extended to the north, where it was both deeper and undisturbed, as we found a third skeleton lying at the bottom, having under the head a thin instrument of white flint that had been intensely burnt, but destitute of any other accompaniment except animal bones, which were plentiful in both tumuli.

On the 10th of June, we examined the remnant of a barrow [Cotes Field Barrow [Map]] at Cotes Field, near Hartington, but were disappointed by finding the interior occupied by the ruins of a limekiln; a few fragments of human bone, and bones of rats, alone testifying to the sepulchral origin of the mound.

On the 20th of June, we excavated a small mound of earth near the large barrow at Sterndale, opened in September, 1846, but failed to discover an interment.

When, to occupy the afternoon, we worked a little in the large barrow, where, in 1846, a bronze dagger was found, and made two cuttings to no purpose, as we observed only remains of animal bones and pottery, some of which was of the Romano-British period, and doubtless belonged to a late interment that was found near the surface some years before by men getting stone.

Books, Prehistory, Ten Years' Digging 1850, Vincent Knoll

On the 25th of June, we were engaged upon a barrow on a hill facing Vincent Knoll, where we opened a barrow in 1849. Most of the elevation had been destroyed, and it was not easy to define Its original boundary, yet the grave, which was cut in the rock to the depth of four feet, could not be very far from the centre. In this, two bodies had been interred in the usual contracted position, one of them lying on its left side, the other on its right, each having the head in the opposite direction. That which lay on its right side was first uncovered, proving the skeleton of a slender young person, which had at the feet a large and good instrument of slightly burnt grey flint, the use of which is not obvious.

The other was the skeleton of a much more robust person, accompanied by two weapons of flint, neither of which was so fine as that found with the other body. They lay on the rocky floor of the grave, surrounded by snail shells, and imperfectly guarded by some large stones artlessly inclined over them.

On the 28th of June, we opened a barrow [Upper Edge Barrow [Map]] on the "Upper Edge," near Sterndale, the top of which was of stone, and the lower part entirely of earth. About the centre were many pieces of charcoal, extending from a little below the turf, to the natural surface, a depth of about three feet. Amongst the charcoal were numerous pieces of calcined bone, and a few bits of flint; and from the appearance of the earth in the vicinity of the charcoal, it was judged that the process of combustion had taken place upon the spot.

Books, Prehistory, Ten Years' Digging 1850, Brushfield

On the 3rd of August, we opened a finely shaped barrow [High Field Hlaew [Map]] near Brushfield, upon Lapwing HiU, overlooking Cressbrook valley, measuring seventeen yards across and four feet high in the centre, composed of earth, with a few stones in the middle, where a shallow grave, about a foot deep, was sunk in the rock. In it lay extended the remains of a human body, so very much decayed as to be almost undistinguishable, but which we ascertained to have been deposited with the head to the west. Beneath the remnants of bone were many traces of light-coloured hair, as if from a hide, resting upon a considerable quantity of decayed wood, indicating a plank of some thickness, or the bottom of a coffin. At the left of the body was a long and broad iron sword, enclosed in a sheath made of thin wood covered with ornamented leather.

Under the hilt of the sword, which like most of ancient date is very small, was a short iron knife; and a little way above the right shoulder were two small javelin heads, 4½ inches long, of the same metal, which had lain so near each other as to become united by corrosion. Among the stones which filled the grave, and about a foot from the bottom, were many objects of corroded iron, including nine loops of hoop iron about an inch broad, which had been fixed to thick wood by long nails; eight staples or eyes, which had been driven through plank and clenched; and one or two other objects of more uncertain application, all which were dispersed at intervals round the corpse throughout the length of the grave, and which may therefore have been attached to a bier or coffin in which the deceased was conveyed to the grave, possibly from some distant place. The only specimen of a Saxon sword, which was the weapon of the thegn, previously found in this part of Derbyshire, was singularly enough found with the umbo of a shield on the same farm in 1828; thus indicating the connection of a noble Saxon family with Brushfield in the age of Heathendom, the name of which is perpetuated in a document of the 16th century, preserved in the British Museum1.

Note 1. Mortgage of Lands in Little Longsdon, Monsall Dale, and Brighterighefield (Brightric's Field,) otherwise Brushefielde, between Thomas Shakerley of Derby and Rowland Eyre of Hassoppe; dated May. 37th Elizabeth. B. Mus: Additional MSS. 6702. fol 45.

On the same afternoon, we examined a mutilated barrow [Brushfield Barrow, location unknown] nearer Brushfield, called the "Gospel Hillock [Map]," perhaps from the first Christian Missionary having taken his stand thereon while exhorting the Saxons to forsake the worship of Woden and Thor; and we were much disappointed by finding nothing more than a few calcined bones and a fragment of pottery.

On the 14th of August, we excavated another barrow, near to that containing the Saxon thegn, having a tolerably perfect appearance, and crossed by two walls; but after much labour, we found that the whole of the centre had been disturbed as low as the natural surface; we consequently met with nothing more satisfactory than a piece of unburnt human skull, a few calcined bones, and some pieces of bone of different animals.