Books, Prehistory, Ten Years' Digging 1851

 Taddington Youlgrave Monsal Dale Stakor Hill Minninglow Middleton

Ten Years' Digging 1851 is in Ten Years' Digging.

Books, Prehistory, Ten Years' Digging 1851, Taddington

On the 22nd of April, we opened a small barrow on elevated land near Taddington, called Slipper Low [Map], which was only about six yards diameter. It covered an irregularly shaped grave, cut in the rock, about eighteen inches deep containing an adult skeleton, extended on its back, with the head to the north-west. The bones were much decayed from the grave having been filled with tempered earth, which led us to conclude that the interment had taken place at a late period, although no implement whatever was found to indicate the era.

On the 23rd of April, a peculiarly shaped barrow [Map] [Crakendale Pasture Barrow [Map]] upon Crakendale Pasture, near Bakewell, was examined. Its singularity consisted in three prolongations radiating from the central mound, which was about four feet high. On digging in various places, scattered pieces of bone, both human and animal, were found; and in the centre, which had been previously disturbed, were remains of at least three adults and one child, as well as some pieces of calcined bone, bones of rats and other animals, fragments of an ornamental drinking-cup, and a small instrument neatly cut from the tine of a stages horn. The centre of the barrow was carefully surrounded by several courses of flat stones set edgeway on the natural surface, which, if the barrow had been untouched, would have led to an easy discovery of the central cist, round which they had no doubt been placed with great regularity.

Books, Prehistory, Ten Years' Digging 1851, Youlgrave

On the 3rd of May, we made a second investigation of the tumulus at Bee Low [Map], near Youlgrave, which was first imperfectly opened by us in 1843, the excavation being then confined to the centre; but the mound being a bowl-shaped one, upwards of twenty yards diameter, it was thought worth while to make a further trial in it, which was begun by digging from the old cutting in the middle to the south side. The first discovery made when we had proceeded about three yards, was a skeleton lying on its left side with the knees drawn up, and the head to the east, so that the face was turned to the outside of the barrow. It was about eighteen inches below the surface of the mound, and did not seem to have been placed in a cist, although two or three courses of flat stones were carefully laid over it: near the head were three small instruments of bronze, two of them awls, and a few bits of the same metal that had been melted, and which had originally been small instruments of similar character. This skeleton having been taken up, we perceived the ground on the right or western side of the trench to decline; following this indication, we came to an irregular grave cut in the rock, the bottom about 4 feet 6 inches from the surface of the barrow: it was surrounded by a lining of small flat stones placed on edge, and within this lining was a regular pitching, like a street pavement, of clear chert stones very closely packed, extending over the whole grave; above them earth and stones had been thrown in without' order, but underneath them was the skeleton of a young person resting in the usual contracted position, with the head to the south-west, the elbows almost in contact with the thigh bones, and the hands in front of the face. At the angle formed by the bending of the knees, was a beautiful drinking-cup, only 6½ inches high, ornamented by two variations of the lozengy pattern; it still retained its upright position, and close to it was a very fine instrument of white flint, upwards of four inches long, which may have been used either as a knife or saw. While tracing out the western extremity of this grave, our attention was drawn to a very large stone, set up in a direction from S.E. to N.W., on a little higher level than the bottom of the grave, which was at length found to be one end of a rectangular cist, the other sides and cover of which were formed of similar slabs. Its internal dimensions were 3 feet 6 inches long, 2 feet wide, and 3 feet deep; and it was filled with stiff earth and small gravelly stone, amongst which, near the top, were fragments of calcined bone, and a small bronze awl or pin; removing the earth down to the floor (which was rock), we there found the bones composing the skeleton of an aged man, with a short round cranium, carefully placed in a heap in the middle, the long bones laid parallel with each other, and the skull put at the top of the heap, with the base upward. The bones being perfect, it is evident that this arrangement had been made whilst they were fresh and strong; and it is not a little singular that a similar mode of interment exists among the Patagonians, who make skeletons of their dead previous to burial. After removing these bones we found two small flints, and a piece of stag's horn at the bottom. Great quantities of rats' bones were found through the whole of the excavation, but they were observed to be most abundant and best preserved around the second interment, with which, it may be proper to mention, there was a single piece of an infant's skull, no other of its bones being found by a most careful examination. The accompanying plan represents the position of the various interments in the barrow; the flat stone shewn with burnt bones in the centre, being found in 1843.

Books, Prehistory, Ten Years' Digging 1851, Monsal Dale

On the 16th of May, we examined the remains of a tumulus [Hay Dale Barrow [Map]] about fifteen yards diameter, in a field on the left hand side of the road from Ashford to Wardlow, about a mile beyond the public-house at the entrance of Monsal Dale. Owing to the land having been much ploughed, the height of the tumulus had been considerably reduced, not more than a foot of artificial material being left. Immediately on removing the turf many fragments of human bone, detached from several skeletons, appeared, and near the centre was a skeleton not so much disturbed, lying on some large rough limestones, and having near the head a small shattered vase, still preserving an upright position in decay - it is slightly moulded and ornamented with oblique punctures. On a portion of the lower jaw of this skeleton is an osseous excrescence, of the shape and size of a small bullet. The bones of an infant, and one or two small fiints were also found.

On the same afternoon, we began an examination of a large mutilated flat-topped barrow [Hay Top Barrow [Map]], twenty yards diameter and four feet high, on the summit of a hill called Hay Top, overlooking the manufacturing colony of Cressbrook. The mound is piled upon a naturally elevated rock, so as not to present more than two feet of accumulated material in the middle, where we began to dig, finding remains of many individuals, from infants to adults of large stature (an imperfect femur, broken off below the neck, measuring near nineteen inches), but all were in disorder except one skeleton, which appeared to lie on its left side in the centre; it was, however, so much surrounded by other bones as to be rather difficult to identify, and, from the same confusion, we cannot positively assign all the following articles to it, though there is scarcely a doubt that the flints and bone ornament were buried with it: - The objects referred to, are ten jet beads of the three common shapes, several flints, including three thick arrow points, and a curious bone ornament, with a hole for suspension round the neck, where it was found, not unlike a seal with a rectangular face. The skeleton, from the slenderness of the bones, was judged to be that of a female. We casually found pieces of two vessels, a polecat's skull, and many bones of the water-vole.

On the 23rd of May, we resumed our labour in two parties, digging at once on either side, between our former cutting and the north and south verge of the mound [Hay Top Barrow [Map]], and carrying on the trenches towards the west, where the barrow was most perfect, the whole of the eastern edge having been carted away. In the south cutting we found an oval cist about three feet from the surface, sunk a foot in rock and lined with a few flat stones; the diameter was under a yard, but it contained the skeleton of an aged man lying on his right side, with the knees necessarily so much drawn up as to approach the face, the head pointed to the south-west: and near it was a neat ornamented vase of imperfectly baked clay, 5½ inches high, and a perforated bone pin, about six inches long. On this side the tumulus was also found part of another skull, which had been removed from some other place.

While these discoveries were being made, the excavation on the north side was equally productive, for immediately below the grass were many fragmentary human bones, amongst which we found an iron spear, with the socket broken, yet 9½ inches long; and a blue glass bead, with a spiral thread of white running through it, which objects, we were informed, had been disturbed many years before, by a man digging in the mound under the impression of its being a mineral hillock: they must have belonged to a body interred near the surface at a late or Saxon age. Proceeding deeper, we found the rock cut away for a large space about two feet lower than its ordinary level, making the entire depth from the grass rather more than four feet. At the east extremity of this excavation there was a small enclosure of flat stones, something like that on the other side, before described, containing a skeleton much contracted, and in this case lying on its lefl side, with the head to the south, accompanied by one flint arrow point.

About the middle of the excavation, in the rock, were two rather small human crania, placed side by side, near a drinking-cup 7¼ inches high, ornamented with a lozengy pattern. Upon the crown of one of the skulls was a neatly chipped instrument of grey flint, and it is singular that no trace either of the lower jaws or of any other parts of the skeletons could be seen, though no dis-arrangement had ever taken place in this part of the mound, and it is certain that the crania alone had been buried there. At a little distance from them were the skeleton of a child, and one cylindrical jet bead. These discoveries, with the occurrence of numerous broken bones, both human and animal in the upper parts of the trenches, terminated the labours of the day. A portion of the west side of the mound intervening between the cuttings being reserved for the next day's examination, when it was cut out to the level of the rock, disclosing a grave about a yard square, sunk about three feet lower. Inside this excavation was a very neat rectangular cist, 2 feet long and 18 inches wide, formed of four flat slabs of limestone, filled with limestone, gravel, and rats' bones, which being very carefully removed, allowed us to see the skeleton of a child, doubled up, with the head to the south, and a most beautiful little vase, 4⅜ inches high, completely covered with a minute chevron pattern, lying obliquely in contact with the pelvis of the child, which had become thrust into it by the pressure of the grave; the depth at which this deposit lay was about five feet from the surface of the mound. The skeleton of the child is arranged in a glass case at Lomberdale House [Map], and from the abnormal shape of the head, it is probable that death was occasioned by hydrocephalus. Many burnt bones, and disjointed bones, as before, were found in the course of the day. The plan of this interesting barrow will illustrate the foregoing account.

On the 29th of May, we made a section from south to north through another large mutilated tumulus [Monsal Dale Barrow [Map]] in the same neighbourhood, but on the other side of the Wye. Not far from the centre we discovered a large sepulchral urn, 12 inches high, with a deep ornamented border, inverted over a deposit of clean calcined bones, placed upon some uneven stones on the natural surface, and having among them a calcined bone pin. The urn was quite uninjured, and owed its preservation to a large mass of limestone by its side, close to which lay a celt-shaped instrument 5 inches long, with a cutting edge, made from part of the lower jaw of a large quadruped rubbed down; and two phalanges of a human finger. Proceeding further, we met with the skeleton of a small hog, then those of two children, all interred in a simple manner, without protection or accompaniment: beyond these was an adult skeleton that had been deposited at a late period, if we may judge from the appearance of the mound immediately above, where were many scattered bones, the skeleton of a dog, and a small bronze fibula of the most common Roman shape. By further excavation we found that the last skeleton had been interred near a very large stone set on edge from east to west, which formed the side of a cist vaen, measuring inside 3 feet 6 by 18 inches, the other sides being supplied by similar slabs, the whole placed in an excavation lower than the natural surface, the depth from the top of the mound to the floor of the cist being 5 feet 6 inches. By clearing it out, the following discoveries were made in the order in which they are enumerated:- First, a small vase of clay, neatly ornamented, but so imperfectly baked as to have but little firmer consistency than the surrounding earth; next, and immediately below it, were skeletons of two infants and an adult, so much huddled together as to render their respective position unascertainable; close to these, we found a fine and sharp spear head of grey flint 2½ inches long, and two other implements of the same, one of them a small disk, near an inch in diameter: immediately under lay another adult human skeleton, which had clearly been deposited on its right side, with the head to the west, as were all the others found in this cist. This, the lowest interment, was evidently a male, the one next above presents female characteristics, and both, together with the children, presented unmistakeable evidence of having been interred at the same time, so that we have some reason to suppose that the family was immolated at the funeral of its head, as has been customary with savages in all ages and parts of the globe.

On the 3rd of June, another skeleton was found between the cist and the eastern verge of the mound, which lay in the contracted position on its left side, with the head to the south. It had been slightly protected by four stones, not very carefully arranged round it, and was quite destitute of accompaniment. On the same day, a large trench was made parallel to the first, without any interment of consequence being found. The decayed skeletons of two infants were noticed, and we casually picked up a barbed arrow-head of grey flint, and a piece of hard sandstone that had been used to triturate grain. In the accompanying plan the principal interments only are marked, the later ones being omitted to prevent confusion. While we were re-filling the excavation, Mrs. Bateman had the misfortune to drop in, unobserved, a gold ring set with an onyx cameo, representing a classical subject, an occurrence which may some day lead to the conclusion that the Romans buried in these ancient grave-hills. Many theories are based upon foundations equally fallacious.

On the 27th of June, we examined a low barrow [Longstone Edge Barrow [Map]], eighteen yards diameter, at the extreme point of the range of hills called Longstone Edge, in the direction of Wardlow. It was composed of earth and stone, heaped above a natural elevation, in the middle of which was a rock grave two feet deep, containing the remains of a full grown skeleton that had evidently been disturbed at no very remote period, and a small piece of urn.

In the afternoon, we opened another mound of the same size, situated about a quarter of a mile nearer Wardlow, chiefly composed of stone raised over a similar rock grave, which had likewise been spoiled of its contents. By emptying it we found many pieces of calcined human bone, a neat javelin-head of burnt flint, that had probably accompanied them, and another weapon point, made from a piece of animal bone rubbed smooth.

Books, Prehistory, Ten Years' Digging 1851, Stakor Hill

On the 2nd of July, we excavated the site of a barrow, most of which had been removed, on a hill near Buxton, not far from Stakor Hill. The mound had been so completely demolished, as to render it doubtful where it would be most proper to begin, and on digging in the most elevated part, we found the rock at the depth of a foot. This caused us to try in a place no higher than the level of the field, when immediately under the clods we perceived fragments of a human bone, and a little deeper a human skeleton, lying on its right side, with the knees contracted, and the head to the south. It had been deposited in a rude cist, walled round by a single course of large stones, and close to the left hip were two neatly sharpened darts of bone; near the legs was a deposit of calcined human bones, accompanied by a round-ended flint also burnt, and a little beyond them, and consequently further from the skeleton, were the unburnt remains of another individual, which had been slightly disturbed: two instruments of flint, and the lower mandible of a hawk, were found between the two, supplying the third instance in which we have observed the remains of this bird in tumuli. These interments removed, we arrived at the edge of an irregular grave, cut about a yard deep in rock, but rather lower at the south end, filled with clayey earth and small stones, amongst which we first found some bones of a child. Lower down was a female skeleton lying on the right side, with the head close to the south-east end of the grave, and the knees drawn up to accommodate the body to the limits of the excavation, which measured 3 feet by 2. Between the head and the knees was a broken drinking-cup of ruder work-manship than usual, lying on its side, with the mouth towards the latter; and a neat javelin-head of flint was found in throwing the earth out of the grave, so that its position was not ascertained. Both mastoid bones were dyed green, from contact with two small pieces of thin bronze, bent in the middle, just sufficiently to clasp the edge or lobe of the ear. There were many rats' bones in the grave. Ihis is probably the oldest interment we have found in which metal has been present- the very small quantity possessed, its application to the purpose of adornment, viewed in connection with the fact of the later interments above being accompanied by weapons of bone and flint only, bear out this opinion.

On the morning of the 4th of July, we examined an artificial mound [Ladman Low Barrow [Map]] composed of sandstone, on the top of the hill behind Ladmanlow Wharf, near Buxton, and found it to cover a small excavation in the gritstone rock, which contained no interment, although bits of flint had been observed bom the first.

In the afternoon, we made four trenches in another barrow, situated on a neighbouring eminence, called Anthony Hill [Map]. It measures about fourteen yards across, and is not more than a foot in height, having been removed to within a few inches of the natural soil. Many fragments of human bone, and a boar's tusk, were found just under the turf, but no depression in the natural level being observed, it became evident that all the interments were destroyed from not having been buried deeper.

On the 4th of September, we opened a barrow [Hollins Hill Barrow [Map]] on the summit of a very steep hill, called Hollings, overlooking the almost unapproachable village of Rollings Clough. The barrow, which appeared to have been previously excavated, as about twelve yards diameter and four feet high, with a concave centre like a basin. By cutting out a large hole, we found that it covered a grave cut in loose sandstone rock to the depth of two feet, in addition to the height of the mound; the grave measured about eight feet long by seven wide, and contained numerous pieces of calcined human bone, which had apparently been burnt at the south-east corner, where the sides were quite red from the effect of the fire. A piece of slate pencil, and an old-fashioned button, were fotmd near the surface, which proved that the mound had been so far disturbed, and the scattered way in which the burnt bones were disposed amongst the stones filling the grave, led us to think that the whole had been plundered.

On the 12th of September, we examined a small mound near Pilsbury, composed of earth and stones, but found only a few pieces of burnt bone and the tooth of an animal.

Books, Prehistory, Ten Years' Digging 1851, Minninglow

We spent the 13th of September [1851] in excavating at the large chambered barrow at Minninglow [Map], where we cleared out a very large and perfect megalithic chamber, on the south side, which had previously escaped a close examination at our hands, though it had evidently been explored before; as we found only one or two pieces of ancient human bone, and many animal bones of recent date. The plan shews the arrangement of the stones forming the chamber, with the interior dimensions, excepting the height, which is rather more than five feet; the largest capstone is about seven feet square.

There are several imperfect cists in the same barrow, and one of similar structure to the present, in the centre, which yet remains perfect, and is covered in by a capstone. At the west side of the mound we found two small brass coins of Constantino, jun., with the common reverse of two soldiers with standards - legend, GLORIA EXERCITVS, - which lay just below the turf, and numerous pieces of Romano-British pottery, which may be accounted for by the following extract from the MS. Diary of White Watson, F.L.S., of Bakewell, the friend and associate of many scientific men and antiquaries of the last century. Under a drawing of two urns similar to Roman ollæ in shape: - "1784, April 20th. Drawing of the fragments of two urns, found in a barrow at Minninglow, by Mi. C. Taylor, Stanton." "Time was, these ashes lived; A time must be. When others thus may stand And look on thee."

Books, Prehistory, Ten Years' Digging 1851, Middleton

On the 24th of October, we opened a large trench in the barrow [Larks Low Barrow [Map]] at Larkslow, near Middleton by Youlgrave, which was first examined by Mr. William Bateman, in 1825, when amongst other things were found a cinerary urn, containing burnt bones, and an "incense cup." It appeared by our excavation, that the centre of the barrow had been surrounded by large masses of chert, within which circle the interment had been deposited. We discovered the calcined bones which had been emptied out of the urn at the former opening, and a few pieces of an unburnt skeleton. From a very careful examination of the former, we find them to consist of the remains of a full-grown person, and an infant, with whom had been calcined a few small instruments of flint, a bone pin, and a tooth of some large animal. It is probable that the critical examination of all deposits of burnt bones would lead to much curious information respecting the statistics of suttee, and infanticide, both which abominations we are unwillingly compelled, by accumulated evidence to believe were practised in Pagan Britain.

On the 10th of November, we thoroughly re-opened the barrow near the railway stonepit, at Minninglow, first examined in 1843, but were not very successful, finding only a good sharpening stone, and the bones of some small quadrupeds, which were not laid much under the surface. The barrow was mostly formed of large stones placed on the surface of the land, and covered with an accumulation of small stones and earth, so as to produce a rounded outiine.