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Reprinted jrom the Journal of the Northamptonshire Natural History Society.-Vol. XIV.    No.  109.    March, 1907.
Opening a Round Barrow at Rushden
by T.  J.  GEORGE

Scattered over England are a large number of the grave mounds of the early inhabitants of our island. These are in much greater numbers in some districts than in others. The writer has stood on Maiden Castle, one of the largest and grandest earthworks in Britain, and counted upwards of forty round barrows dotting the horizon. In Wiltshire, the barrows amount to nearly two thousand; they are also numerous in Cornwall, Gloucestershire, on the Cotswolds, in Derbyshire, and on the Wolds in East Yorkshire.

In those early times—the Stone and Bronze Ages—the central parts of what is now England were but thinly populated, compared with the districts having large tracts of down-laud, for it is there that the vestiges of the primitive people, in the shape of their pit dwellings, their camps, and their burial mounds, still remain to be seen in great profusion.

In our own county, barrows are both scarce and as a rule small in size. Several are mentioned in Wetton's "Guide to Northampton and its Vicinity," as follows: one in a field on the left side of the road from Northampton to Brixworth; it is in an arable field and has a large tree on the top of it, and stands nearly opposite to the Lodge of Boughton Park; less than a mile further on, the road to Pitsford turns off from the main road, and about a quarter of a mile from the turn the road just shaves the outside of a Tumulus, which is named in Eyre's Map of Northamptonshire as "Lyman's Hill." In the neighbourhood of Brixworth village were several Tumuli, now destroyed. Between Brixworth and Lamport, at the corner of the road leading to Hanging Houghton, a hamlet of Lamport, stands a fair-sized mound; other Tumuli are to be seen in Lamport Park. Four Tumuli are mentioned on page 184 of Wetton's Guide as being close to the village of Grafton Regis. Clifford's Hill is not a burial mound, but south of it, in Brafield parish, there was a Tumulus which was destroyed at the enclosure. At Northampton there is a Tumulus in Cow Meadow, but this, so far as is known, is of Saxon date, at least remains of the Saxon pagan period were obtained from it in the year 1844; three or more Barrows are to be seen in the meadows near to Beesley's Mill, one of them showing signs of having been opened at some time. On the left side of the road from Addington to Woodford are three of the largest Barrows in the county ; altogether there are not less than sixty to seventy round Barrows which have existed or which are still remaining, though it is impossible to say whether they belong to the Bronze Age or to the Roman or Saxon periods.

During the winter before last, the writer was staying with some friends at Rushden, and a small party walked one Sunday evening to locate the position of a Tumulus marked on the Ordnance Map, in a field near to Higham Ferrers Station (L. & N.-W.). The Tumulus was found, though it was an extremely shallow one, in fact so much so that one of the party, Mr. G. Mason, was sceptical of its being artificial, and he said that he knew of a much better and more pronounced mound on some property with which he was connected, and promised to get permission from the occupier to have it opened. So Mr. W. Hensman, of Rushden, towards the end of last summer, kindly made all arrangements, engaged men to dig, obtained permission from the occupier of the land on which the Barrow stands, and fixed the date.

This Barrow is quite in the flat of the meadows, standing in a field between the L. & N.-W. railway and the line from Wellingborough to Higham; within a hundred yards of this Barrow is another one in the next field a few yards from the hedge, and between the two is a slight swelling in the ground which possibly may be the remains of a third one.

On the 16th of October, 1906, my friend—Mr. E. B. Turner—and I, went over by an early train. Mr. Hensman met us at Rushden Station, and on reaching the spot we found two men awaiting instructions. We began by digging a trench 4ft. wide from the South side of the Barrow, which was from 60ft. to 70ft. in diameter. It was soon found out that the mound was made of fine sand, which could not have been obtained from less than half a mile from the spot. Before many barrow-loads had been removed, our hopes were raised by finding several flint flakes scattered in amongst the sand, but the majority of these were simple flakes. However, before the morning was over a well-marked flint knife (figure A on the Plate) was found about 18 inches from the surface; this has a shoulder which evidently was made intentionally. Not very far from this was the round-ended scraper (figure B). This also has a shoulder to it. After clearing the trench past the centre of the mound, a cutting; 4ft. wide was made from it towards the East, and more plain flakes were obtained, though no remains of any skeleton were discovered during the first day's digging; but on reaching the spot on the following morning, it was found that the men had come upon an interment. This was in the form of a heap of calcined bones, and judging from the thickness of the remains of the skull, it is considered to be that of a man. Not far from the interment were found two small fragments of reddish pottery, which resemble in colour and body that of the visual Bronze Age Pottery, though it was quite plain. Besides these remains, the chief find on the second day was a nicely-worked pointed implement or weapon (figure C) and the two round scrapers (figures D and C).

A third day finished our digging operations, nothing else of importance being found, so after throwing into the bottom of the trenches some copper coins of the current reign, for the benefit of any future explorers, the men were set to till in again.

The interment was not in the centre of the mound, but about 2ft. towards the West, and about 3ft. 3ins. from the surface. The flint flakes were distributed over the whole mound, that is, as far as we dug; altogether about two-thirds of the mound was moved.

From the interment being that of a cremated body, the Barrow is Bronze Age, as cremation was not introduced until that Period. It also shows the overlap into the Bronze Age of the use of stone. The flint flakes, scrapers, and the pointed instrument, are all paralleled by similar articles obtained by Mr. J. R. Mortimer in opening the Barrows in East Yorkshire. Many of these are figured in his recent work, 'Forty years' Researches in British and Saxon Burial Mounds of East Yorkshire.' Figure 85 on Plate XI. closely resembles our pointed implement. Mr. Mortimer calls it a javelin head, which our specimen might well have been, though it would equally well serve as a borer.

The Neolithic site in Duston Parish has yielded specimens of much the same type as the Rushden Barrow, and in the Northampton Museum is a pointed flint found near Hunsbury Camp, which is almost identical with figure C. What is rather surprising to the writer is the finding of a Bronze

Burial mound in one of the meadows of the Nene Valley. There are other mounds in the Valley, but until they are examined it is impossible to say they are burial mounds, or to what period they may have belonged.




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