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Scheduled Monument record MDR1537 - Round barrow, Arbor Low, Middleton and Smerrill

Type and Period (4)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

SK 1608 6354. H. Rooke excavated the barrow between 17th and 21st June 1782 and recovered pieces of large stags horns, smelted lead in addition to possible remains of birds and a human tooth. (1,4,6,14) The barrow was re-opened on 1st June 1824 by William Bateman and Samuel Mitchell, in cutting a trench across the mound from its south side they found human bones, animal remains and charcoal. (2-4,14) Barrow built on the bank of the Henge monument, the first excavation possibly occurred as early as c.1770, when the owner of the land, Mr. W. Normanshaw, may have discovered a human skull. (3,4) This correlation may however be erroneous and there is some evidence to suggest that this excavation occurred at nearby Gib Hill barrow. (24,28) Thomas Bateman excavated the barrow on two occasions. The first of these on 22nd to 23rd May 1845 was the more productive, in addition to the shoulder blade, antler of a red deer and rat's bones, he located a six sided cist composed of ten limestones set on edge. This contained a human cremation, a flint implement, a bone pin and a piece of iron pyrites. In addition at the west end of the cist were two "urns" and the rim of a third vessel. (4,9). His second excavation on 16th June 1845 consisted of a trench cut "through part of the tumulus still remaining unexplored", a few pieces of antler tine represented the only finds. (4) The two urns have been classified as Food Vessels of Manby's Type 3 (iii) and 4 (ii). (3). In contrast, it has also been claimed that they have strong affinities to Peterborough Ware. (24,28). A vase, with short broad striated lines across it, filled with burnt bones, found in a cist and a cup-shaped vase ornamented with short vertical incised lines, both found in a cist in a round barrow at Arbor Low. (11). A large barrow on the bank of Arbor Low with no evidence of a ditch. It is 25 metres in diameter and has a maximum height of 2.4 metres. It is now in a considerably disturbed area. (4). Re-surveyed at 1/2500. Field report of 19th August 1952 is correct. (5). A round barrow east of the south entrance of the henge [SMR 10108]. Piggott's Class II pottery was found. (13,23). Tumulus. (19). Barnatt's survey on 20th October 1988 gave the following dimensions: length of 24 metres, breadth of 21 metres and height of two metres. The bowl barrow lies on the bank of Arbor Low henge and post dates the bank, as this has been robbed to either side to build the barrow. (24,28). A few metres beyond the henge [SMR 10108] is a low barrow with a diameter of 10 metres by 11 and half metres. It was excavated by Bateman in 1844 but he discovered it had already been disturbed and the rock cut grave was empty aside from a corroded piece of iron. This suggests at least one burial in the mound was Romano-British or Anglian. (25). A further burial was found outside the circle in 1845 when Thomas Bateman partially excavated the large bowl barrow superimposed on the south-east side of the henge. This barrow, which is c.21 metres in diameter and survives to a height of c. two and half metres, was at least partly constructed from material taken from the henge bank and so, in its present form, must be of later date. However, near the centre of the barrow, on the old land surface, Bateman found a limestone cist or grave containing, in addition to the remains of a human cremation and artefacts of flint and bone, two unusual pots which are similar to Late Neolithic Peterborough ware. The dating of these pots, and the location of the cist on the old land surface, indicate that the burial may in fact be earlier than the barrow and predates or is contemporary with the henge. The construction of the barrow suggests the later re-use of the burial place, probably in the Bronze Age. (26) An unusual feature of the Peak District is the frequency that round barrows are superimposed onto other monuments. This is the case with the round barrow at Arbor Low, which is superimposed onto the henge monument. (27). A large barrow is placed near the south entrance to the circle and adjoining the east side and external face of the vallum on which it partly rests. Between 1770 and 1824, three unsuccessful attempts had been made to discover an interment, but a fourth, made by Bateman on May 23rd, 1845, resulted in its discovery. A large slab was found to cover a six-sided cist, constructed of ten pieces of limestone of different sizes placed on end, and having a floor formed of three other pieces. No soil had penetrated the cist, and its original contents had been undisturbed. These consisted of two small urns, human bones, a bone pin, a small flint weapon and a piece of iron pyrites. (29)

Sources/Archives (29)

  • <1> Article in serial: Pegge, Rev. S. 1785. 'A Disquisition on the Lows or Barrows in the Peak District', Archaeologia. Volume 7.
  • <2> Unpublished document: Mitchell, S. 1842. Memoranda Dated 26-12-1842, in T. Bateman Correspondence, vol.2..
  • <3> 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.
  • <4> Bibliographic reference: Bateman, T. 1848. Vestiges of the Antiquities of Derbyshire. pp 31, 64-66.
  • <5> Bibliographic reference: Bateman, T, 1850: MS, B.26..
  • <6> Unpublished document: Rooke, H. Notebooks.
  • <7> Bibliographic reference: Bateman, T. 1855. Descriptive Catalogue of the Antiquities at Lomberdale House. G51, N3-4, O19.
  • <8> Bibliographic reference: Bateman, T. 1859: 3..
  • <9> Bibliographic reference: Bateman, T. 1861. Ten Years' Diggings in Celtic and Saxon Grave Hills. pp 283-284.
  • <10> Article in serial: 1894. Antiquary 29. p51.
  • <11> Bibliographic reference: Howarth, E. 1899. Catalogue of the Bateman Collection of Antiquities in the Sheffield Public Museum. pp 114-115, 176, illus.
  • <12> Bibliographic reference: Bateman, T. n.d.. Illustrations of Antiquity.
  • <13> Article in serial: Gray, H S G. 1902. 'Arbor Low Stone Circle: Excavation in 1901 and 1902', Archaeologia. Volume 58 (26?).
  • <14> 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 155-172..
  • <15> Bibliographic reference: Abercromby, J. 1912. Bronze Age Pottery of the British Isles.
  • <16> Article in serial: Jackson, W. 1951. 'Peterborough (Neolithic B) pottery from High Wheeldon Cave, Earl Sterndale, near Buxton', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 71, pp 72-77. pp 72-77..
  • <17> Personal Observation: F1 FC 19-AUG-52.
  • <18> Article in serial: Archaeological Journal. Vol. 88,. pp 115-116, fig.18.3.
  • <19> Map: Ordnance Survey (OS). 1955. 6".
  • <20> Article in serial: Manby, T. 1957. 'Food vessels of the Peak District', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 77, pp 1-29. p5.
  • <21> Personal Observation: F2 BHS 29-MAR-66.
  • <22> Bibliographic reference: Marsden, B. 1977. The Burial Mounds of Derbyshire. pp 70-71.
  • <23> Index: North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust (NDAT). North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust Index. 1499.
  • <24> Unpublished document: Barnatt, J. 1989. The Peak District Barrow Survey (updated 1994). Site 8:8.
  • <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: Arbor Low henge, large irregular stone circle, linear bank and bowl barrow.
  • <27> Bibliographic reference: Barnatt, J and Collis, J. 1996. Barrows in the Peak District: Recent Research. p22.
  • <28> Photograph: Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA). Slide Collection. 10109.1.
  • <29> Article in serial: Brushfield, T N. 1900. Journal of the British Archaeological Association. Volume 6 (N.S.).



Grid reference Centred SK 1607 6353 (22m by 23m) (Centre)

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Record last edited

Aug 1 2020 12:41PM

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