Books, Prehistory, Ten Years' Digging 1856

 Eldon Hill Winster

Ten Years' Digging 1856 is in Ten Years' Digging.

Books, Prehistory, Ten Years' Digging 1856, Eldon Hill

On the 9th of July, after a very long and cold drive through a mountainous country, we opened two barrows on Eldon Hill, about a mile from the village of Peak Forest, the mountain, in the side of which is the famous chasm called Eldon Hole, formerly considered unfathomable, celebrated in Latin verse by Hobbes, and in English by Charles Cotton.

The first mound [Eldon Hill Barrow 1 [Map]], placed east of the highest point of the hill, measures not more than 5 yards in diameter, by about 2 feet in height, and is composed of small stones and earth. It yielded rats' bones, the root of a stag's horn, and the lower jaw of a small dog or fox, but produced no human remains, very probably fxom having been reduced in size.

The other tumulus [Eldon Hill Barrow 2 [Map]] on the highest point of the mountain, measures 16 yards across, by about 4 feet in height, and is composed of large stones and earth. We found that the centre had been previously disturbed; nevertheless we there met with an immense quantity of rats' bones, a few portions of the skeleton of a child, a few bones from the extremities of a full grown person, and a rhomboidal article of bone, 2¼ inches long, with a hole through the middle, most likely intended to attach it to the dress as a button or fastening of some kind. In the undisturbed part, immediately south of the centre, were eight tines or points from the antlers of stags, some showing marks of tooling, also where they had been partially sawn through before they were broken off; accompanied by the lower jaw and bones of a cow, and other splintered animal bones, all lying about 18 inches from the top. Further south was a scattered deposit of calcined human bones, accompanied by the unburnt skeleton of an infant, a fine spear head of flint much burnt, 2 inches long, and a small vase of the usual imperfectly baked clay, 4¾ inches high, very nicely ornamented, but partly disintegrated. The interments lay about 18 inches above the natural surface, among some large stones which were not arranged so as to guard the deposits, indeed the latter appeared to have been carelessly interred at a period subsequent to the formation of the tumulus.

Books, Prehistory, Ten Years' Digging 1856, Winster

On the 13th of October, in consequence of information kindly communicated by Miss Worsley, I went to Winster, a small town about six miles from Bakewell, to see an interment [Winster Barrow [Map]] that had been accidentally discovered by removing a bank of earth in the garden of that lady. There was no external indication of such a deposit having been made, and if any mound had existed it would probably be levelled when the garden was laid out. The bones had been disturbed by the labourers previous to my visit, but it was observed that tbe body bad been placed on the natural surface in a contracted posture, with the head to the north-east; by examining the contents of the grave, it appeared that the deceased had been accompanied by an iron spear head and the lower stone of a quern or hand-mill, the former was broken by the finders. The body was covered with large stones of the same sorts as may be met with in the neighbourhood, yet evidently collected from different places, there being grey waterworn limestones from the surface of the land and other black limestones of a shaly texture that had clearly been quarried. The earth whereon the skeleton lay, exhibited traces of a large fire, and among the ashes were a few particles of calcined bone, together with the remains of wood; many of the stones, including the quern, had also been in the fire. The height of the earth above them was near 5 feet, and it appeared to be quite free from any other stones. I observed the lower jaw of an ox lying about, which was found during the progress of the work, but could not learn that it was connected with the interment, though from discoveries of former years, I am induced to think that it would be. A second interment of similar character was discovered on the following day, about 3 yards further in the bank of earth; the mode of sepulture was in every way identical with the former, and the bones having been, by the judicious kindness of Miss Worsley, preserved untouched for my inspection, I was enabled by removing them myself to make the following observations as to the manner of burial:- A large wood fire was made upon the natural surface, in which the stones used for covering the body, and part at least of the weapons of the deceased, were first burnt, as is abundantly clear from their present condition; after the fire was exhausted, the body was laid on the spot where it had been kindled, upon its right side with the knees drawn up, and the head pointing to the north-east; at the head was placed a small vessel of very coarse and unornamented pottery, much decayed when found; and at the back of the skeleton were laid a very large iron spear head of coarse workmanship, of the unusual length of 2 feet, found with the point towards the feet of the skeleton; a small curved instrument of iron, 5 inches long, originally inserted in a wooden handle, the bone ferule of which still remains; and a bead-formed ring of stoneware or porcelain, 1½ inch diameter, slightly ornamented with two incised lines round the outer edge, and two recessed places, which, but for its brittleness, might have received a pin to constitute it a fibula. After the completion of these arrangements, the stones having been burnt, were carefully placed over the corpse, and earth was finally heaped over the whole to the height of between 4 and 5 feet. It is very remarkable, that amongst the stones around this interment, was found the upper half of the same hand-mill, the lower stone of which was buried with the first skeleton; it is a very neatly wrought example of the bee-hive shaped quern, having both a funnel shaped hopper for the reception of the grain, and a hole at the side for the handle; it is made from the millstone grit of the neighbourhood, obtained probably from Harthill Moor, not more than two miles distant, a locality where numerous pieces of similar querns have been from time to time turned up by cultivating the land. From the great heat to which it had been exposed it was split into several pieces. The human bones were much decayed in consequence, I think, of the corpse having been interred whilst the grave and the surrounding stones were hot; perhaps, however, some more recondite cause must be sought to account for their nearer approximation to their original dust, than those of the other skeleton, which were undoubtedly of contemporary date.

Note A. far as I can judge, both skeletons were of men of ordinary stature, and it is singular that interments of this late period should have been deposited in the ancient contracted position.

I noticed in the last grave one or two bits of calcined bone, and the unburnt tooth of a sheep. The jaws and other bones of a dog, and some shapeless fragments of iron, were found in the earth a little above the interment, before my arrival; and I would observe that another specimen of the large and heavy spear, which consists of a wide socket terminating in a blade, the section of which is rectangular, found in the Thames near Kingston, is in the collection at Lomberdale House [Map], where the foregoing relics are also deposited, by the liberality of Miss Worsley, and her brother, Charles Worsley, Esq.