Vestiges of the Antiquities of Derbyshire
Vestiges of the Antiquities of Derbyshire

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Saturday the 9th of September, 1843, a remarkable barrow, at Cross Lowe, near Parwich, was opened. It had every appearance of being a small tumulus, about three feet in height; but we found to have been constructed above a depression in the rock, about two feet deep, thus increasing the height of the artificial structure to five feet. It was thought that the most effectual way of opening this barrow was to begin a cutting on both the north and south sides, and thus to meet in the middle; this was done with the following interesting results: on the north side a secondary deposit was found, about eighteen inches below the surface of the mound; it was the skeleton of a young person, and was accompanied by a small urn, much ornamented, and a bone pin. On the south side the floor was found to decline rapidly towards the centre, on approaching which a very rude cist was discovered, formed of stones set edgeways upon the solid rock, which supplied the bottom of the cist, on which lay a large and strong human skeleton, with the head towards the south-east; about a foot from the head was placed a coarse urn, sparingly ornamented. Besides these the cist contained a large quantity of rats' bones, one horse's tooth, the fragments of a Celt, and a small piece of chipped flint; and at the feet of the skeleton lay a large heap of calcined human bones, which on examination proved to be the remains of two children; near them a curiously-shaped and neatly-ornamented urn was deposited. On removing a large stone, which formed that side of the cist approximating to the centre of the barrow, another skeleton was uncovered, which was that of a young person, accompanied by a small urn, or incense cup, which was placed at the head. The occurrence of this interment on the exterior of the cist caused a careful examination of the surrounding parts in the immediate neighbourhood of the principal interment, which led to the discovery of four more human skeletons, upon the same level, and to all appearance deposited there at the same time as the body within the cist. Near the surface of the tumulus another skeleton was disinterred, which was accidentally discovered by part of the skull falling down, owing to the ground being undercut, for the purpose of following up the traces of some of the other skeletons. It was not accompanied by relics of any description.

On the 6th of August 1844, was opened a most interesting barrow upon Wardlow Common, which is known by the name of Rolley Lowe; it is a mound of considerable magnitude being forty-five feet in diameter, and five feet in height at the centre. As the discoveries made in this barrow are of a very miscellaneous character, and of various dates, it will be the most simple course to record them in the order in which they occurred: in the course of the central excavation, in which all the relics were found, about a foot from the surface, and dispersed amongst the soil which was found to be unmingled with stones to the depth of eighteen inches, were found a few human bones and teeth, and a brass coin of Constantine the Great; near the bottom of this upper stratum of soil, where it began to be slightly mixed with stones, a brass pin, two inches and three quarters in length, square at the thicker end for insertion into a handle, was found. About three feet from the surface of the mound, a central area about eight feet in diameter was discovered, which seemed to be walled out in a circular form, and divided into five partitions by large limestones, so as to exhibit a ground plan similar to a roulette table. There was no appearance of any of these vaults having been protected by coverings; when discovered, each was filled with small stones, amongst which lay the skeletons, which occupied all these partitions whilst in one was also an urn.
But to resume the particulars in the order before stated; in the first examined recess was a human skeleton, minus the head, but complete in other respects; with this interment was deposited the under jaw of a child; in the next compartment was a skeleton without any accompaniment: in the following cist was a large and course urn inverted over a deposit of calcined human bones, amongst which was a large red deer's horn, also calcined; the urn was about sixteen inches in height, and twelve in diameter; and, owing to its size and fragile texture, was broken to pieces in the attempt made to remove it; near the urn was a skeleton with a fine and well-preserved skull. In the last examined division, which was the northern- most, lay a human skeleton, with which were deposited a large horn from the red deer, and the jaw of an otter. Proceeding down about a foot lower than the level upon which all these skeletons were laid, another skeleton was found laid upon a large stone, on the level of the natural soil; it was accompanied by three rude instruments of flint, and the head lay directly beneath the large urn before mentioned: the stone in question measured in length six feet and in breadth about four feet, being upon the surface of the ground it was at first thought to be rock, but a piece being broken off, disclosed to view a sight such as is seldom witnessed by the barrow-digger, and which repays him for his frequent disappointments; this was a cist or vault, three feet in length, two feet in width, and eighteen inches in depth, formed of four smooth limestone slabs, having a fifth as a pavement, all the angles and joints having been so effectually secured by a pointing of tenacious clay, that not a particle of soil had entered this primitive coffin, the workmanship of which was in every respect neat and accurate. It was tenanted by a skeleton with contracted knees, whose bones though much decayed, lay in the posture they had assumed on the decomposition of their fleshy covering; I in the rear of the skeleton, was laid on one side a highly ornamented urn, of rude but chaste design, and in various situations in the cist were found two very neat arrow-heads of flint, of uncommon form, a large tusk of the wild boar, seven inches in length, and a piece of tempered clay, to which adhered some fragments of decayed wood, The excavation for the vault was made in the natural soil, and from the floor of the cist to the summit of the tumulus was at least six feet six inches. The under mentioned articles, which did not appear to be connected with any of the interments, were found in various situations, throughout the interior of the barrow; namely, a fragment of an ornamented drinking- cup, a spear-head of coarse flint, and similar workmanship, a few animal teeth, and rats' bones " ad infinitum." The outer circumference of the major part of this barrow was constructed of some description of clayey composition, which had become as hard as a turnpike road.