Biography of John Yonge Akerman 1806-1873

John Yonge Akerman 1806-1873 is in Antiquaries.

On 12 Jun 1806 John Yonge Akerman was born.

Archaeologia Volume 30 Section IV. 09 Feb 1843. Account of the opening by Matthew Bell, Esq. of an ancient British Barrow, in Iffins Wood [Map], near Canterbury, in the month of January, 1842, in a Letter from John Yonge Akerman (age 36) Esq. F.S.A., to Sir Henry Ellis, K.H., F.R.S., Secretary.

Read 9th February 1843.

Archaeologia Volume 32 Section XXIII. Observations on the celebrated Monument at Ashbury, in the county of Berks, called "Wayland Smith's Cave [Map]" by John Yonge Akerman (age 40), Esq. F.S.A. in a Letter to Capt. W. H. Smyth, R.N. Director. Read, 4th March, 1847.

Archaeologia Volume 32 Appendix. Account of a Group of Tumuli on Berlchampton Down, Wilts.

Dec. 16th, 1847. John Yonge Akerman (age 41), Esq. F.S.A. communicated to the Society a letter which he had received from Richard Falkner, Esq. dated Devizes, 25th of September, 1847, descriptive of a Group of Tumuli on Berkhampton Down, not hitherto, as Mr. Falkner believed, sufficiently noticed by the antiquary. Referring to the Ordnance Map of Wiltshire, Sheet XIY. he says, "The Barrows I am about to describe will be found in the triangle made by the old road from Bath, approaching the present turnpike road from Devizes to Marlborough; Wansdyke forming the base. They are placed in a line passing from the south-west to the north-east, and surrounded by a fosse of a very unusual shape, 20 feet across and 3 in depth. The ground covered by them is 80 yards in length and 47 yards broad in the widest part. The Tumulus at the south-east end of the inclosure is the largest, the diameter of the base being 63 feet, and its height 10 feet. The one at the other end is not so high, but, as it slopes into the fosse, its base is not many feet less. Between them is a Barrow of much smaller dimensions, and the three are connected together by slight bands of earth, with a fosse on each side, running a short distance up the Barrows." Mr. Falkner's communication to Mr. Akerman was illustrated by a drawn sketch taken from the south, a ground plan, and some sections. The singular arrangement of these mounds, their difference in size, and other circumstances, led Mr. Falkner to the conclusion that this spot was the resting-place of three members of a Celtic family, who perhaps fell together in some hostile attack, or otherwise died about the same time: and it would seem they were persons of distinction, whose place of sepulture was in after times visited with ceremony, there being an approach to the ground 260 yards in length, formed of a vallum and fosse, still quite perfect, commanding a fine view of the Barrows throughout its course. This letter was accompanied by short notices of two other groups of Tumuli: one about a mile to the east of the triple Barrow just described, close to the turnpike road; the other situated in one of the deep hollows of the Chalk Downs, not far from Silbury Hill, and remarkable from the length of the approaches.

A second communication from Mr. Falkner to Mr. Akerman was read, accompanying a drawing of what has been either part of a Torques, or one of the coils of an Armilla, or Armlet, found in the autumn of 1844 on St. Ann's Hill, near Devizes. The sketch was the actual size and shape of the original; the material of which was fine gold, weighing rather more than 2½ ounces troy. In form and character of workmanship it strongly resembled one of the gold bracelets found near Egerton Hall, in Cheshire, in 1831; and which is engraved in the XXVII. Volume of the Archaeologia, p. 401.

Long Barrows of the Cotswolds. Gloucestershire, 43 N.E. Parish of Chedworth. 43*.

Latitude 51° 47' 37". Longitude 1° 56' 04". Height above O.D. about 690 feet.

The following is an account of the excavation of this barrow by Akerman (age 49) in 1856 given in Proc. Soc. Ant., iv, 1859, pp. 16 and 17:-

"My attention having been directed to a barrow of this description [i.e., long], situated in a field near the farmstead of Pinkwell, a little to the west of the village of Chedworth, in Gloucestershire, I applied to the Reverend A. Gibson, the trustee for the land on which it stands, and Mr. Townsend, the occupier, for permission to explore it, which was very promptly and kindly granted.

" This tumulus has always been known as ' Long Barrow,' and the field in which it is situated as ' Long Barrow Field,' but this designation was probably given to it at a comparatively recent period, when the Chedworth district of the extensive Cotswold range was first enclosed. I learned that the southern end of the barrow had been disturbed about twenty years since for the purpose of obtaining stone, when three human skeletons were found lying side by side, but unaccompanied by relics of any description. The teeth were remarkably perfect. This rather invited than discouraged further investigation, for although the centre of the mound appeared to have been disturbed on its surface, I was led to believe that this was attributable to the labourers in search of stone, and that it had never been ransacked by the antiquary or the treasure-seeker.

"We commenced excavations on the eastern side of the south end of the mound, which appeared to be intact, and on reaching the interior it became evident that the floor of the barrow had been excavated to a depth of two feet below the natural surface of the soil. The sides were built up with the smaller stones of the district, in the manner of a ' dry wall,' but nearer the centre the stones were of larger size, and all were placed with great apparent care, plainly showing that this end of the barrow had not been disturbed since its first formation.

" After a careful search for some hours, and the removal of a vast number of stones, we were satisfied that there had been no deposit of any kind in this portion of the barrow, and we proceeded to remove the stones at the opposite end, where the skeletons already mentioned had been found. As the work proceeded it became obvious that the stones here were not placed with care ; in fact that they had been thrown to- gether without order or arrangement, and that this barrow had been assailed at some distant period. Nothing but the hope that the mound had been imperfectly explored would have tempted further search, and this at length ended in the finding of the metal tag of a lace and a minute fragment of pottery. By the dark brown glaze upon the latter, it is probably not earlier than the end of the sixteenth or beginning of the seven- teenth century, and to this period I would refer the first assault of the barrow at Pinkwell."

Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine 1859 V6 Pages 159-167. No. 7. [Roundway Hill Barrow 7 [Map]] This interesting barrow was opened by the desire of the late E. F. Colston, Esq. in 1840. An account of the investigation was sent to the Devizes Gazette by the late Mr. Stoughton Money, and a description of some of the articles found in it, accompanied with an engraving, was published by J. Yonge Akerman (age 52), Esq., Secretary to the Society of Antiquaries, in his "Remains of Pagan Saxondom," plate i. From these sources we obtain the following particulars. "The barrow in question is a small one on the apex of Roundway down, which though particularly mentioned by Sir R. Colt Hoare, somehow or other escaped examination by that indefatigable antiquary. On digging into it, at the depth of seven feet the workmen reached the natural chalk level, and came to a skeleton very much decayed, which had formerly been enclosed in a wooden cist bound round and clamped together with strong iron plates or hoops. Several portions of this iron work, though in a very corroded state, had fibres of the wood still adhering to them, and remained precisely as originally placed. The skeleton lay east and west, the head towards the latter point. At the feet was one of those vessels which are sometimes discovered in the graves of this period, in the shape of a pail, hooped with brass, and ornamented with about twenty triangular pieces of the same metal. Near the neck of the skeleton were found some elegant ornaments, consisting of garnets and vitrified pastes strongly set in gold.

" There were also two gold pins with garnets set in the head, and connected by a chain of the same metal, suspended to the centre of which, is a small medallion bearing a cruciform pattern. This, and a triangular plate. of a paste-like composition, set in gold, led Mr. Money to the conclusion that the grave was that of a Christian Romanized Briton, who existed in one of the four first centuries after Christ." Mr. Akerman however expresses a doubt on this subject, which wo are quite inclined to support, and says that it is by no means certain, that the body was that of a Christianized Anglo-Saxon Lady, " for though the ornament in the centre of the chain represents a cross, we cannot receive it as a conclusive evi-. denee of the faith of the wearer. The same remark applies to the triangular shaped pendant. That this form of necklace was popular in the sixth century wo may infer from the circumstance of its occurring on the neck of a bust of Roma, which appears on the coins of the Gothic monarchs, struck in Italy about this time." An engraving of one of these coins is included in Mr. Akerman'a plate.

Mrs. Colston having kindly allowed me o further examination of the fragments of the vessel mentioned above, I have been enabled to ascertain its original size. It was about nine inches in height, and five and a half inches diameter. The wood of which it was formed was thin, apparently less than a quarter of an inch in thickness. Microscopic examination proves it not to have been coniferous wood. There were two hoops only, one of them is entire; they are formed of thin brass, over-lapping at the ends, and the joints were made with soft solder. The ornaments consist of rows of dots, produced by punching on the inside of the hoops. The broader hoop was fastened to the wood with iron rivets, the heads of which were plated with brass. The triangular plates are also of brass, they were secured to the pail by an iron rivet through the point of each, the broad ends being inserted under the hoop. Thev are decorated with rows of dots, similar to those on the hoops.

On 18 Nov 1873 John Yonge Akerman (age 67) died.