The Journal Of Antiquities

Ancient Sites In Great Britain & Southern Ireland


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The Knave Hill Burial Mounds, Near Nelson, Lancashire

Knave Hill long barrow near Nelson, Lancashire

   OS Grid Reference: SD 89636 36991. On the lower slope of Knave Hill between Walton Spire and Float Bridge Farm, 2 miles east of Nelson, Lancashire, there are two burial mounds, one of which is quite a large, well defined long barrow, while the other one close-by is a smaller mound but is also probably a long barrow. They are thought to have originally been built in the early Bronze Age, but then in the 10th century AD to have been re-used for the burial of Viking warriors who had died in the slaughter of the Battle of Brunanburh (937 AD) which may have been fought in the vicinity of Knave Hill, or a few miles away in the Burnley area near the river Brun. There are 2 or 3 other small mounds in the vicinity, one of which is just visible at the northwest side of Knave Hill. The hill itself is sometimes spelt “Nave Hill.” To reach the site from Nelson town centre head up Netherfield road and then to the top of Barkerhouse road. Then turn left, then right, and follow Delves Lane (with Walton Spire on your left side). At the junction of four lanes go straight ahead and down the hill. On the left is a farm track (footpath) to Knave Hill farm. The mounds lie a short distance to the east of the modern barns.

Knave Hill long barrow.

   In a most excellent article for ‘Pendle & Burnley’ Magazine by the local historian by Mr H. Hindle (1987) we learn that “Knave Hill farm, only two fields below the ancient monolith (Walton Spire) probably derives its name from the Nave Hill burial, a long barrow measuring approximately 2oo feet long by 120 feet wide, and 14 feet high, close to which are two smaller round barrows. Collins New English Dictionary explains ‘Nave’ as the middle or body of a Church, so called because of its resemblance in shape to an inverted ship. Another indication to the antiquity of mans presence in the area is the nearby Ringstone Hill and the countless number of cairns and burial mounds.”

Knave Hill near Walton Spire (smaller mound).

   The other mound lies just a little to the east of the larger, long barrow, but is much smaller in overall size. This mound measures roughly 126 feet long, 90 feet wide, and is about 7 feet in height. It could be that this smaller mound is also a long barrow, with its origins in the early Bronze Age but re-used in the 10th century AD. However, these two mounds or barrows are not recorded on any OS maps as far as I can tell, but we do have three or so sources of information with regard to their history – those sources being H. Hindle, Thomas T. Wilkinson (19th century antiquarian of Burnley Grammar School) and John A. Clayton, who mentions these burial mounds in his works of 2006 and 2014. There is another burial mound (possibly even two mounds) at the northwest side of Knave Hill, close to Shelfield lane which skirts the hill upon which is Walton Spire (see link below), a Victorian cross that sits on top of an ancient battle-stone that may have its origins in the 10th century AD, or maybe even earlier. Knave, in place-name form, was probably originally Cnebba or Cnabha (Hill of Cnebba). There is also Jeppe Knaves Grave, a Bronze Age cairn, near Sabden in Lancashire (see link below). And there is a Knave Hill near Todmorden, west Yorkshire.

Knave Hill burial mounds (at centre) and other “possible” mounds, from Shelfield Lane.

   The Battle of Brunanburh in 937 AD was fought by a collection of rag-tag armies of Celts, Saxons, Norsemen and some others. King Athelstan and the Saxons ‘were’ victorious in the said battle. But where was the Battle of Brunanburh fought? Mr Hindle offers a local place-name: he suggests Emmot in the Forest of Trawden being a strong possibility. But Thomas T. Wilkinson writing in the mid-19th century offers several other possibilities: Saxifield and Daneshouse near the River Brun in Burnley, or between Warcock Hill, near the Long Causeway at Stipernden, and another Warcock Hill at the north side of Thursden Valley. Mereclough near Burnley is another contender for the battle site as there is an area there called “Battlefield”. Bonfire Hill between Briercliffe and Swinden is another strong possibility. Or could it have taken place on the moors above Bacup, Lancashire, or even at Bromborough on the Wirral? We will probably never know.

Sources and other related websites:-

Hindle, H., Colne & Surrounding Areas (article in Pendle & Burnley) Magazine No. 4 (Christmas Issue), Valley Press, Ramsbottom, Bury, Lancs., 1987.

Clayton, John A., Valley of The Drawn Sword, Barrowford Press, 2006. 

Clayton, John A., Burnley And Pendle Archaeology – Part One – Ice Age to Early Bronze Age, Barrowford Press, 2914.

https://thejournalofantiquities.com/2012/05/01/walton-spire-nelson-lancashire/

https://thejournalofantiquities.com/2013/10/10/jeppe-knaves-grave-sabden-lancashire/

http://www.barrowford.org/page123.html

http://placenames.org.uk/browse/mads/epns-deep-32-d-mappedname-003089

                                                                             © Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2017.

 


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Round Dikes Earthwork, Addingham Low Moor, West Yorkshire

Round Dikes on Addingham Low Moor (from above).

Round Dikes on Addingham Low Moor (from above).

    OS grid reference: SE 0551 5012. Quite a substantial Iron Age earth-work situated below Counter Hill on Addingham Low Moor, West Yorkshire, that is locally called ‘Round Dikes’, ‘Round Dikes Camp’ and ‘Round Dikes Settlement’. This enclosed and almost oval-shaped earthwork on the moors to the east of Crossbank Road also supports a Bronze Age burial mound, but unfortunately this is now badly muti-lated. There are traces of an associated linear earthwork to the south-east of the site, and another burial mound, although this is now hardly recognizable at ground level. Round Dikes Earthwork can be reached from Crossbank Road, where a footpath runs north-east towards Counter Hill, through a couple of fields and over a couple of wall stiles for 400m. Just before the earthwork there are some gates and a short muddy path. The grassy earthwork is now in front of you!

Round Dikes Earthwork, Addingham Low Moor (the north side).

Round Dikes Earthwork,  (the north side).

    Round Dikes Earthwork roughly measures 87m x 79m and is oval shaped. It has a well-defined ditch with banks running around an inner area which would have been the camp or settlement’s inner sanctum; the banking at the north-side is very prominent and is 4-5 feet high in parts, whereas the banking further around the site is slightly less at 3-4 feet high. However it is thought this was a non-defensive camp or “entrenchment” probably of the Iron Age, and not of the Roman period. The inner part of the site probably contained maybe nine hut circles and some hearths, according to John Dixon in his work ‘Journeys Through Brigantia’ – Volume One. At the south-east side there is what looks to be an entrance, and close to that and just inside the camp’s enclosure, a spring which is now almost lost in reed beds! The ditch and banking at the S side is almost lost in dense foliage and reed beds, and the spring makes for very boggy conditions here.

    It would seem that the people of the Iron Age kept their stock: cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and maybe horses close to them and always within the bounds of their settlements or enclosures.

    The author J. C. Barringer in his work ‘The Yorkshire Dales’, says of these Iron Age people and their enclosures: These complexes of small enclosures were bounded by stone banks and contained round huts of about fifteen feet in diameter. The inference to be drawn from the archaeological evidence is that Iron Age peoples occupied many of the limestone plateau above the main valley floors and that they were agriculturalists to the extent of growing crops of oats and perhaps rye in their small enclosures.”

    He goes on to say: ‘Their small enclosures near their huts may have been crop growing areas, but most of their territory must have been used for grazing stock. The grazing of hillsides, would of course, hold back tree growth and in the case of goats severely inhibit it, so maintaining the clearance of the woodlands and perhaps increasing it in some areas.”

Round Dikes Earthwork. Bronze Age Bowl Barrow (between the sheep!)

Round Dikes Earthwork. Bronze Age Bowl Barrow (between the sheep!)

    Near the south side of the site there is a small but very mutilated mound or bowl barrow which must be ascribed to the Bronze Age. This grassy mound is about 4 feet high but it is very damaged with a hollowed-out part at one side – due perhaps to robbery, or maybe from some illegal archaeological diggings in the past. So the site was obviously in use as a settlement long before the round dikes were built. And 200m further down hill to the south-east there are traces of a linear earthwork which was probably an extended part of the Round Dikes Camp. There is also another tumulus (bowl barrow) just below this earthwork at (grid ref: SE 0584 4993), although this has been largely lost due to plough-ing of the field.

    About ¾ of a mile to the west, at Woofa Bank, there is another large oval-shaped Iron Age enclosure with associated earthworks over to the north and east, and there is an interest-ing tumulus (bowl barrow) on the trackway (Millennium Way) to the south.

Sources and related websites:-

Barringer, J. C., The Yorkshire Dales, The Dalesman Publishing Company Ltd., Clapham, 1982.

Dixon, John & Phillip, Journeys Through Brigantia – Volume One – Walks in Craven, Airedale and Wharfedale, Aussteiger Publications, Barnoldswick, 1990.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Addingham

http://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=48311

http://www.ancientmonuments.info/en31498-late-prehistoric-enclosed-settlement-known

http://www.armadale.org.uk/rounddykes.htm


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Worsaw Hill Burial Mound, near Downham, Lancashire

Worsaw Hill burial mound in the shadow of Pendle Hill.

Worsaw Hill burial mound stands in the shadow of Pendle Hill.

    OS grid reference: SD 7793 4321. About halfway between the Pendle villages of Downham and Worston, Lancashire, is the 725 foot high Worsaw Hill, which is a Limestone reef knoll. At the south-eastern side of the summit there is a small, grassy mound that is thought to be a Bronze Age burial mound, although very little is known about its history. There are also faint earthworks on the top of the hill which might be the remains of an ancient settlement? And there is a cave near the base of the hill. The lower slopes and outcrops are good for fossil hunting, while the walls around the periphery of the hill are excellent for “crinodia” enthusiasts! From West Lane, just up the lane from the entrance to Radbrook Farm, follow the footpath on the opposite side of the lane up past the barn, keeping to the side of the hill for maybe another ½ mile. At the far north-east side of the hill walk up the lower slope to the summit and, close to the south-east side, the small circular mound is in front of you. From here you get an excellent panoramic view of Pendle Hill’s western flanks.

Worsaw Hill bowl barrow (as seen from the south).

Worsaw Hill bowl barrow (as seen from the south).

Worsaw Hill bowl barrow (as seen from the south)

Worsaw Hill bowl barrow (close up from the south)

    The burial mound, or bowl barrow, at the SE side of the summit of Worsaw Hill is thought to date from the Bronze Age. It is a round-shaped grassy mound that looks to be in a reasonably good condition, although there is a hollow at the centre, but whether this was caused by some  past archaeological excavation, or whether the central chamber has fallen in, or something else, we don’t know with any certainty. It is 5-6 feet in height though originally it would have been higher; and it measures about 16m x 13m (52ft x 42ft). There looks to have been ‘some’ sort of ancient settlement close by the mound as there are faint traces of rectangular earthworks, but whether this is of the same age as the barrow, we don’t know. Maybe it was a quarry-workers’ settlement as there are many bell pits and outcrops both on the summit and around the bottom of the hill. Limestone was obviously quarried here – the walls around the base of the hill being testament to this. At the base of the hill (NW side) there is a small cave and some think there was an ancient settlement close-by that. And there was perhaps a Romano-British settlement, farmstead, or signal station at nearby Worston, which is near a Roman road – the course of which can be seen at the western-side of the village.

Crinoid fossils in Limestone wall.

Crinoid fossils in Limestone wall.

Crinoid fossils at Worsaw Hill in Lancashire.

Crinoid fossils at Worsaw Hill in Lancashire.

    Worsaw Hill, which is joined together with Crow Hill, are Limestone reef knolls, or mud mounds, that were formed over 300 million years ago in the Carboniferous period – at which time they lay beneath the sea, only the top of Pendle Hill would have been visible. Worsaw Hill is the largest reef knoll in the area, another being the one upon which Clitheroe Castle stands, which is part of the Clitheroe Limestone Formation that lies within the Chadian Stage. This ‘reef belt’ of Limestone stretches from Clitheroe to Worston and Downham to Chatburn. Other smaller reef knolls are to be seen around Downham, Twiston and Chatburn. Fossilised crinoidia which are tiny marine creatures, freshwater sea lilies, and corals are very evident in the Limestone quarried from these knolls, and also in the outcrops and scars on their side slopes. Often the walls around these knolls are built of Limestone with crinoid fossils.

    The authoress Jessica Lofthouse says of this area: “A thousand years ago Anglian farmers with an eye on good well-drained limestone pastures, sweet herbage for their flocks and herds, chose to settle down in a green land among coral reef knolls. One was Crow Hill, joined by Ridge to Worsa Hill named after one of their leaders. So Worsa’s Tun came into being. A little west of the settlement was a Roman highway; legionaries travelled it between  Ribchester and York, but now as a grass-floored track gone back to Nature walkers in high Summer need protection from beds of nettles which choke it. The bypass did not obliterate the line of it.”

Sources and related websites:-

Dixon, John & Phillip, Journeys Through Brigantia – Volume Nine – The Ribble Valley, Aussteiger Publications, Barnoldswick, 1993.

https://thejournalofantiquities.com/2016/03/13/fossil-valley-twiston-near-downham-lancashire/

http://www.kabrna.com/cpgs/craven/reef_belt.htm

https://b.geolocation.ws/v/E/4080662/worsaw-hill/en

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worston

Lofthouse, Jessica, Lancashire Countrygoer, Robert Hale, London, 1974.


Hameldon Pasture Round Barrows, Worsthorne, Lancashire

Hameldon Pasture Round Barrow I

Hameldon Pasture Round Barrow I

    OS grid reference: SD 8914 3262. Upon the windswept Hameldon Pasture near Worsthorne, Lancashire, are two prehistoric round barrows, but often referred to as cairn circles or round cairns. The small hill on which they are located is also known as Little Hameldon Hill, and to the local people it is Worsthorne Hill. Unfortunately, both monuments are now ‘much’ destroyed and robbed of their stonework. The larger barrow is called Hameldon Pasture I while the smaller one is Hameldon Pasture II. To reach the site take the Gorple Road at St John’s Church in Wors-thorne. Continue eastwards along this often quite rough track for about 1½ miles. Take the second footpath over the ladder stile on left-hand side (after power cables), then walk-on northwards for 290m to the hill and round barrows. The ladder stile was broken at the time of my visit and the footpath often quite boggy.

Hameldon Pasture Barrow I showing the boulder at the centre.

Hameldon Pasture Barrow I (showing the boulder at the centre).

    The larger of the two barrows (Hameldon Pasture I) is 0.3m high and has a circumference of 21m (almost 69 ft) but it is now much destroyed and difficult to make out in the grass. It was originally a bowl-shaped tumulus consisting of earth and stones – many of its stones having been robbed away and used in the walls down slope. At the centre there is a hollowed-out area 5m x 4m (16 ft x 13 ft) with two weather-worn gritstone boulders, the bigger one looks to have some tiny cup-marks at one side? A third, smaller boulder lies close by. When this barrow was excavated in 1886 a cist grave was found. This had two large flat stones covering it and other flat slabs at the sides and the ends. A number of arrowheads and tiny flints were also found.

Hameldon Pasture Round Barrow II.

Hameldon Pasture Round Barrow II.

    The second barrow lies 55m to the south-west at (SD 8912 3259) and is identified as ‘Hameldon Pasture II’. But it is also known as a round cairn or cairn circle. This much destroyed round barrow measures 12.5m x 10.8m (41 ft x 35 ft) and is 0.3m high. The large hollow (depression) at the centre is 2.5m x 1.5m (8 ft x 5 ft); there are traces of a second hollow. Several stones lie in the centre and around the edges – indicative of an outer kerb. When the cairn was excavated in 1843 by Mr Studley Martin*, of Liverpool, an undecorated urn containing the bones of an adult and child was found in a stone cist, but the stones from this have been robbed away for other use in the ‘immediate’ locality.

Hameldon Pasture Round Barrow II.

Hameldon Pasture Round Barrow II.

    *Mr Studley Martin the 19th century Liverpool writer and antiquarian was a guest of the Reverend William Thursby of Ormerod House near Hurstwood, Burnley, Lancashire, in 1843. During his sojourn in the Burnley area he visited the two prehistoric barrows upon Hameldon Pasture, and was ‘seemingly’ delighted to find an undecorated funery urn in the smaller of the two tumuli. Martin was also associated with the prehistoric Calder Stones at Allerton, Liverpool.

Sources:-

Hall, Brian, Burnley (A Short History), Burnley and District Historical Society, 1977.

https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1008919

http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=11195

http://www.burnleyexpress.net/news/nostalgia/worsthorne-a-village-history-1-1688523

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worsthorne-with-Hurstwood


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Little Painley Burial Mound, Gisburn, Lancashire

Little Painley tumulus, near Gisburn, Lancs.

Little Painley tumulus, near Gisburn, Lancs.

    OS grid reference: SD 8284 5012. In the middle of a farmer’s field at Little Painley near Gisburn, Lancashire, there is a clump of tall trees which surround an ancient burial mound/bowl barrow. The very distinctive low mound is still quite prominent even after thousands of years. However it is now surrounded by a barbed-wire fence and also the site is more difficult to reach from the road due to a gate and recently erected fences, although as these fields are for the growing of crops and vegitables in the Summer months, I suppose that is to be expected. The burial mound (tumulus) is located on the left-hand side of the A682 (Long Preston) road 1¼ miles to the north of Gisburn church and just past ‘The Temple’, which is an 18th century tree-clad mound. Little Painley prehistoric burial mound is situated on private land and on a low hill surrounded by fields that have crops growing in them in the Summer months. So, if you do wish to take a closer look it is advisable to ‘keep’ to the fence-side of the field.

Little Painley Burial Mound, near Gisburn, close-up.

Little Painley Burial Mound, near Gisburn, close-up.

    The barrow stands on a low hill at the eastern side of the River Ribble and is said to have a diameter of 20m (68 ft) and is maybe 2-3 feet high. It was built of earth and stones in the Bronze Age – sometime between 2,500-1,600 BC. There is a surrounding ditch 2.5m (6 ft) across and 0.5m (1 ft 6 inches) deep. At the SW side there are traces of an outer bank some 2.5m (6 ft) in width and about 0.3m ( nearly 1 ft) high, although these features are often hard to see properly due to the trees, and in the Summer months – the long grass. The trees here were planted in the 1960s. When this barrow was excavated in the early 1900s one or more collared funery urns of the ‘Pennine type’ were found indicating that there was probably a settlement near by. The author John Dixon in his work ‘Journeys Through Brigantia’ (Volume One), suggests the settlement was centred on Bolton-by-Bowland, where a number of Bronze Age axe heads have been found. It is perhaps likely, then, that a chieftain and his close family were buried here at the Little Painley barrow.

    And John Dixon goes on to say: “These isolated finds provide a tantalizing insight into Bronze Age society. However, the evidence we have tends to pose as many questions as they resolve. A ditched bowl barrow is evidence of a society with a level of social organization capable of converting surplus economic value into funeral monuments. This society suppor-ted a primitive ceramic and metallurgy technology and must have conducted trade with people outside of Craven, and it was probably a hierarchical warrior society.”

    Sir E.B. Tylor in his work of ‘Anthropology’ (Vol II) says something very similar. He says that: “Prehistoric burial-places in our own country are still wonders to us for the labour they must have cost their barbaric builders. Most conspicuous are the great burial-mounds of earth or cairns of stones. Some of the largest of these appear to date from the stone-age. But their use lasted on through the bronze-age into the iron-age.”

    About ½ a mile to the north beside the River Ribble, just south of Paythorne bridge, stands Castle Haugh, a late 11th century earthwork consisting of a large ditched mound with a ‘motte’ at the centre. This stronghold was probably the residence of Roger the Poitevin, a Norman baron who held the lands around here. He is mentioned in ‘The Domesday Book’ (1086) under the entry for Bernulfeswick (Barnoldswick) in Craven.

Sources:

Dixon, John & Phillip, Journeys Through Brigantia (Volume One), Aussteiger Publications, Barnoldswick, 1990.

http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=11487

Tylor, Edward B. (Sir),  Anthropology (Vol II), Watts & Co., London, 1946.


Carne Beacon, Veryan, Cornwall

Carne Beacon, Cornwall (photo credit: Mick Sharp)

Carne Beacon, Cornwall (photo credit: Mick Sharp)

OS grid reference SW 9126 3863. On the hilltop overlooking the beautiful Gerrans Bay in south Cornwall stands a fairly prominent ancient burial mound or round barrow (tumulus), dating from prehistoric times, rather than the more recent so-called Dark Ages, as was often thought from the Cornish legend of the saintly King Gerrenius. The man-made mound known as ‘Carne Beacon’ is covered in trees, bushes and grass and stands at the south-side of a farmer’s field (near Churchtown farm) ringed by a barbed-wire fence, but with a gate at one side for access. The site can be reached from the village of Veryan 1 mile to the north, or from the hamlet of Carne half a mile south, via footpaths around the edges of the field where the mound is located. The A3078 St Just and Tregony road is roughly one-and-a-half miles to the west of Carne Beacon. Just to the north of the ancient burial mound are the earthworks of an Iron-Age fort or settlement known as ‘the Veryan Rounds’.

Carn Beacon is between 15 and 28 feet (upto 6 metres) in height, depending on which part of it you’re standing on, and it has a circumference around the base of 370 feet (113 metres). During World War II it was used as a lookout post; a concrete pillar can still be seen on the top of the mound from this structure. It is considered to be the largest Bronze-Age burial mound in England. According to the ‘often accepted’ legend, a golden boat with golden oars was buried inside the mound in the 6th century AD along with a Dark-Age king; the boat in question had been rowed across Gerrans Bay from Dingerrin carrying the body of the saintly King Gerrenius (Geraint) of Dumnonia (Devon) who had died in his palace there circa 555 AD. But there was also a St Geraint or Gerran who lived about the same time and founded the church of St Gerrans-in-Roseland, which has rather added confusion to the legend, perhaps, although we known that a certain King Geraint figured in the ‘Register of Llandaff’ concerning St Theliau (Teilo) a 6th century Welsh churchman who had cause to travel through this part of the country on his travels to Brittany at that particular time and was well received by that king; so are the two saints Gerrenius and Geraint one and the same, quite probably. One legend informs us that St Just, son of King Geraint, had been converted to christianity by the Irish female saint, Boriana (Buryan). St Just in Roseland, Cornwall, is named for him. A St Geraint is commemorated on the 16th May. Some accounts also confuse things more by saying that King Gerrenius lived in the 7th or 8th century?

The antiquarian, John Whittaker, in his work ‘The Ancient Cathedral of Cornwall’ says that “when Gerrenius died, he was brought from his castle of Dingerein and ferried with great pomp across Gerrans Bay in a barge plated with gold”. The site of Dingerein or Dingerrin castle, a sort of crescent-shaped earthwork, can be found near Trewithian, Cornwall, some 4 miles to the west of Carne Beacon. It seems that the good Dr Whittaker never got the chance to excavate the great mound, even though the local people had got word that he was going to do so and had been given the ‘day off’ work for this wonderful event.

English: Carne Beacon

Carne Beacon (Photo credit: Tony Atkin – Wikipedia)

In 1855 the mound was finally excavated, but sadly, or perhaps unfortunately, no golden boat with golden oars was found – only a cist-type grave inside slabs of stone, like a small chamber, was found along with some ashes of burnt bones and charcoal. Whether these ashes were those of King Gerrenius of Dumnonia we may never know. But this very ‘fanciful’ legend has proved to be a good story told down the centuries. The cist grave (cairn) would most probably date from the Bronze-Age. The almost circular-shaped earthworks a short distance to the north of Carne Beacon is all that now remains of an Iron-Age hillfort or settlement that is locally called ‘the Rounds’, ‘Veryan Rounds’ or ‘the Ringarounds’.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veryan

Whittaker, John Dr., The Ancient Cathedral of Cornwall History Surveyed, (2 vols), London, 1804.

Westwood, Jennifer, Gothick Cornwall, Shire Publications Ltd., Princess Risborough, Buckinghamshire, 1992.

Readers Digest., Folklore Myths and Legends of Britain, Readers Digest Association Limited., London, 1977.

Farmer, David., The Oxford Dictionary of Saints, (5th Edition), Oxford University Press, 2004.

Spencer, Ray., A Guide to the Saints of Wales and the West Country, Llanerch Enterprises, Lampeter, Dyfed, 1991.

National Trust: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/roseland/things-to-see-and-do/view-page/item944365/


Kirkcarrion, Middleton-in-Teesdale, County Durham

NY9391 2380. Some 2 miles to the south-west of Middleton-in-Teesdale, County Durham, is the Lunedale Ridge close by Harter Fell. On top of the ridge, that can be seen for miles around, there is a tree-covered burial mound or round barrow, locally known as Kirkcarrion or Caryn’s Castle. It stands some 380 feet high. Access is by footpath from the B6276 Brough road.

English: Kirkcarrion A clump of trees surmount...

Kirkcarrion, near Middleton. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The prehistoric barrow is located in the middle of a clump of pine trees at the top of a rock-strewn hill known as Lunedale Ridge and, locally Kirkcarrion or Caryn’s Castle, after a Brigantean prince who was buried here in pre-Roman times, but it is much more likely that a Bronze-Age tribal chieftain was buried in the barrow. His or someone else’s ghost is still said to haunt the ancient citadel. In 1804 a local farm labourer removed some stones from the mound and uncovered a cist burial or sepulcharal grave, but not realising what he was doing he calmly took the stones away to build some walls on Crossthwaite Common. A funery urn with charried bones inside was found at the same time.

The antiquities from the cist burial eventually came into the hands of the landowner, Lord Strathmore, who promptly took them to his castle at Streatlam near Barnard Castle, County Durham, where the artefacts were put on display. Another excavation was carried out in 1849 but there does not appear to be any record of what, if anything, was found at that time. Lord Strathmore built walls around the burial mound and planted pine trees as a mark of his respect for the ancient burial site. Today, the place is an atmospheric, mystical place; no doubt this was something that the ancient people found very much to their liking, a place where they could bury the chief of their tribe, a high place that was, perhaps, for them nearer to “their” god or gods.