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Scheduled Monument record MDR1534 - Gib Hill Bowl Barrow, south-west of Arbor Low, Middleton and Smerrill

Type and Period (3)

  • (Early Bronze Age - 2350 BC to 1501 BC)
  • (Early Bronze Age - 2350 BC to 1501 BC)
  • (Early Bronze Age - 2350 BC to 1501 BC)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

The first excavation of this site may have occurred as early as 1812 under the direction of a Mr. B. Thornhill of Stanton. Although an element of doubt pertains to this excavation, its finds may have included human hand bones and silver coins, the latter are undated but have been speculatively classed as Roman. There may also have been an excavation by a Mr. Normanshaw prior to 1824 which also recovered human bones. Samuel Mitchell linked these finds with the coins discovered by Mr Thornhill and suggested "there must have been a subsequent interment, most probably Roman.". Both the association and the dating are speculative. (24) The possible discovery of coins (?silver) in the Gib Hill round barrow has been attributed to an excavation said to have been conducted by a Mr B. Thornhill of Stanton. (2, 8, 11) Both the excavation and the suggested finds were however refuted by the Rev. Mr. Thornhill, who could only speculate that they might have been conducted by his late brother. A Roman dating is also speculative. (1, 24) Gib Hill was the subject of an excavation by Samuel Mitchell and William Bateman on 1st to 2nd June 1824. A trench was cut from the south-east side to the centre, finds consisted of charcoal, cremated human bones, a flint implement variously described as an "arrowhead", "dart or javelin point", and a polished axe fragment. Sources (2) and (8) also refer to the discovery at the centre of "a bed of very stiff reddish-brown clay, completely saturated with what was supposed to be animal matter, most probably arising from the decomposition of human bones". Nearer the surface were a small iron fibula and an amorphous piece of iron, whilst through the trench were "numerous pieces of burnt white flint". (1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 11) The final recorded excavation at the site was conducted by Thomas Bateman over the period 10th to 17th January 1848. On the 10th, a trench was cut about half way up the mound, finds consisted of a few splinters of animal bone and a burnt flint flake. 11th January: the trench was extended beyond the centre of the site, finds included more animal bones, a dog tooth, numerous burnt flint flakes and a "neatly formed arrowhead" of flint. 12th January: the trench was widened upon either side, this indicated that the centre of the barrow was formed of loose stones, whilst the outer parts were of tempered earth/hard clay. Finds consisted of an ornamented potsherd, a circular flint (scraper?), an "arrowpoint" and numerous flint chippings. 13th January: the trench was deepened, cutting through layers of clay "varied by layers of decomposed wood and charcoal", Bateman discovered animal bones and flints. 14th January: the trench was deepened further, laying bare a space 25 by 18 feet [7.6 by 5½ metres] to natural. This indicated that the main barrow had been raised over four smaller mounds, each of "indurated clay intermixed with wood and charcoal". On the natural soil beneath the mounds were flints, and the "large disconnected bones of oxen very much decayed". 15th January: a tunnel was driven at a right angle from the west side of the trench. When the tunnel collapsed it exposed a cist high in the mound, this consisted of four massive limestone slabs forming a rectangular structure measuring 2½ by 2 feet internally [¾ by 0.6 metres]. A fifth slab some four feet [1.2 metres] square, 10 inches thick, formed the capstone, positioned only 18 inches [0.45 metres] below the surface. The cist contained a food vessel and a human cremation. 17th January: Bateman examined the fill which had fallen from the cist, this included a molar tooth and lower jaw of a horse, in addition to a white flint. The cist was removed and re-erected at Lomberdale House (restored to the site in 1938, now reburied). The dimensions of the barrow are 46 metres long, 26 metres in breadth and c.3½ metres high. (3, 8, 24) A circular, ditchless barrow, with a "tail" bank to the north-east. Apparently reconstructed by Ministry of Works. (15) Gib Hill should be dated c.1600-1400 B.C. (16) Gib Hill has a barrow superimposed on the western end and only 19½ metres of the lower mound is exposed. If it runs under the full length of the upper mound it would be 46 metres long. The surrounding quarry scoops are of uncertain interpretation and some or all may be more modern. Excavations of the bowl barrow by W. Bateman and Mitchell in 1824, and T. Bateman in 1848, penetrated the lower mound. In 1824 the lower mound was found to be of clay, this contained charcoal, cremated bones , possible decomposed bones, a flint and a polished axe fragment. In 1848 the clay was said to form four smaller mounds, whilst beneath them, on the natural soil, were flints and the "large disconnected bones of oxen very much decayed". The barrow is ?46 metres long and 28 metres in breadth. (24) Some distance to the south-west of Arbor Low [SMR 10108] is a massive barrow known as Gib Hill. This has been argued [by Authority 8] to be a Neolithic oval barrow with an Earlier Bronze Age round barrow superimposed at one end. The tenant, Mr Normanshaw found a human skull in the barrow (or in the henge bank). The owner, Mr Thornhill, may have also dug the site in 1812, discovering human bones and Roman coins. William Bateman and Samuel Mitchell excavated the barrow in 1824 and then Thomas Bateman re-excavated it in 1848. Immediately to the west of Gib Hill is an area of ancient stone quarrying, amongst which may be an unfinished henge in the form of a curved ditch. (25) The monument is located 200 metres south-west of Arbor Low henge in the central uplands of the limestone plateau of Derbyshire. It includes, within a single constraint area, a large bowl barrow superimposed on an earlier oval barrow. The barrows' construction ditches are also included within the monument and extend approximately 10 metres on either side. Associated with the monument, but covered by a separate scheduling, is the linear bank and ditch which passes through Gib Hill plantation and curves round the monument 60 metres to the south-east. In addition, close to the monument on its north-west side, is a semi-circular quarried feature. This, in the past, has been suggested to be an unfinished henge. Although the feature has been partially excavated the results were inconclusive. It may, in fact, be a modern feature, contemporary with other quarry pits in the vicinity, and has, therefore, been excluded from the scheduling. The oval barrow comprises a two metre high mound measuring 27 metres by 46 metres. Its long axis appears to be orientated on Arbor Low henge. The bowl barrow was constructed on the south-west end of the oval barrow and is a steep-sided sub-circular mound with a diameter of 24 metres by 27 metres and a height of c. three metres. A number of partial excavations of the site have been carried out. The most notable of these were by William Bateman and Samuel Mitchell in 1824 and by Thomas Bateman in 1848. Previous investigations were poorly recorded and do not necessarily relate to Gib Hill. One of these is a possible excavation by the owner, Mr Thornhill, in 1812, when human bones and Roman coins were reputedly found. During Bateman and Mitchell's excavation, a smaller mound of stiff clay was found on the old land surface beneath the oval barrow. It measured three to four yards across by one and half yards high and contained layers of charcoal and cremated human bone together with a possible arrowhead and a fragment of polished stone axe. Within the oval mound itself, Bateman and Mitchell found numerous flints and an iron brooch. The flints may have been residual; that is to say, part of the construction material of the mound. The brooch, however, indicates the later re-use of the barrow, possibly in the Romano-British or Anglian periods. During his excavation, Thomas Bateman recorded that the oval mound consisted of limestone and soil. Within it, on the old land surface beneath, he found four small clay mounds arranged in a square. The clay was mixed with charcoal and wood, possibly from further cremations, and underneath were found several flints and ox bones. On the surface of the oval barrow, beneath the later bowl barrow, he found a square cist or grave containing a cremation and a pottery food vessel. The latter indicates an Early Bronze Age date for the bowl barrow. The oval barrow dates to the Neolithic period and may be slightly later than the mounds underneath, though their precise relationship has yet to be determined. Together with Arbor Low [SMR 10108], Gib Hill has been in State care since 1884. (26)

Sources/Archives (30)

  • <1> Unpublished document: Thornhill, B. 1822. 'Unpublished letters from Rev. B. Thornhill to W. Bateman 20-12-1822/7-12-1826' in W. Bateman Correspondence, Vol.3.
  • <2> Bibliographic reference: Mitchell, S. 1824. Unpublished Letters to W. Bateman dated 3-7-1824; 6-8-1824, in T. Bateman, Collectania Antiqua, section 16.
  • <3> Unpublished document: Bateman, T. Descriptions of, and Observations on, Further Discoveries in the Barrows of Derbyshire.
  • <4> Unpublished document: Bateman, T. 1843. 'A Description of Tumuli Opened by Thomas Bateman Esq. of Bakewell in the summer of 1843', Collectania Antiquia. Section 17. p 57.
  • <5> Bibliographic reference: Mitchell, S. 1842. Unpublished Memoranda Dated 26-12-1842 in T. Bateman Correspondence, vol.2.
  • <6> Bibliographic reference: Bateman, T. 1848. Vestiges of the Antiquities of Derbyshire. p 31.
  • <7> Bibliographic reference: Bateman, T. 1855. Descriptive Catalogue of the Antiquities at Lomberdale House. N79, O56.
  • <8> Bibliographic reference: Bateman, T. 1861. Ten Years' Diggings in Celtic and Saxon Grave Hills. pp 17-20.
  • <9> Bibliographic reference: Howarth, E. 1899. Catalogue of the Bateman Collection of Antiquities in the Sheffield Public Museum.
  • <10> Bibliographic reference: Haverfield, F. 1905. 'Romano-British Derbyshire', in Victoria County History, Derbyshire, Vol 1. p 259.
  • <11> Article in serial: Ward, J. 1908. 'Notes on some Derbyshire antiquities from Samuel Mitchell's memoranda', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 30, pp 155-172. pp 163-166.
  • <12> Bibliographic reference: Abercromby, J. 1912. Bronze Age Pottery of the British Isles Volume 1. Volume 1. p 138.
  • <13> Article in serial: Heathcote, J. 1940. 'Bronze Age cist at Gib Hill', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. pp 66-68, photographs.
  • <14> Personal Observation: F1 FC 19-AUG-52.
  • <15> Article in serial: Manby, T. 1957. 'Food vessels of the Peak District', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 77, pp 1-29.
  • <16> Bibliographic reference: Thomas, N. 1960. A Guide to Prehistoric England. pp 66-67.
  • <17> Personal Observation: F2 FC 28-APR-66.
  • <18> Article in serial: Radley, J. 1968. 'The origin of Arbor Low henge monument', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 88.
  • <19> Aerial Photograph: 1972. AP: DCC Survey: 8-1972: Flight 15, Photo 011..
  • <20> Bibliographic reference: Marsden, B. 1977. The Burial Mounds of Derbyshire. pp 71-72.
  • <21> Index: North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust (NDAT). North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust Index. 1502, unnumbered.
  • <22> Bibliographic reference: Green, H S. 1980. The Flint Arrowheads of the British Isles, BAR (British Series). Vol 75. p 433.
  • <23> Bibliographic reference: Bateman, T. n.d.. Illustrations of Antiquity.
  • <24> Unpublished document: Barnatt, J. 1989. The Peak District Barrow Survey (updated 1994). Site 8:7.
  • <25> Unpublished document: Barnatt, J (PDNPA). 1993. Upper Oldhams Farm, Stanton Estate Land, Middleton-by-Youlgreave, Derbyshire, archaeological survey, 1993, archaeological interpretation.
  • <26> Scheduling record: English Heritage. 1994. Scheduling Notification: Gib Hill Oval and Bowl Barrow. 11501.
  • <27> Article in serial: Hoey, L R. 1995. 'Yorkshire Monasticism, Archaeology, Art and Architecture', Journal of British Archaeological Association Journal of the British Archaeological Association: vol.15. p 153.
  • <28> Photograph: Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA). Colour photograph collection. Film. 508.1-7.
  • <29> Photograph: Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA). Black and white photograph collection. 465.3-4.
  • <30> Photograph: Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA). Slide Collection. 10114.1-17.



Grid reference Centred SK 1582 6332 (32m by 23m) (Centre)

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Record last edited

Aug 1 2020 12:43PM

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