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Monument record MDR1899 - Five Wells Chambered Cairn, Taddington

Type and Period (4)

  • (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • (Early Neolithic to Late Bronze Age - 4000 BC to 701 BC)
  • (Early Neolithic to Late Bronze Age - 4000 BC to 701 BC)
  • (Early Neolithic to Late Bronze Age - 4000 BC to 701 BC)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

On the summit of Five Wells Hill, near Taddington is 'one of the most perfect examples now existing of the sepulchral architecture of the aboriginal inhabitants of Britain'. The mound has two vaults in the centre of the cairn, each approached by a separate gallery or avenue formed by large limestones standing edgeways. The mound was robbed when the surrounding moors where enclosed as much of the stone was used to build these boundaries. On the 25th August 1846 the two galleries 'were cleared out'. The only artefacts which have been left by these previous robbers was a flint arrow-point and numerous bones, some calcined, of both sexes, roughly equating to c.12 individuals. (3). Barbed and tanged arrowhead found amongst other flints on top of the mound by Salt in 1900. The two secondary burials found in 1901 (see SMR 13515) may be Bronze Age rather than Neolithic. (7). Large scale survey. (8) The chambered tomb at Five Wells near Taddington should certainly be classed with the monuments of passage-grave derivation on account of its circular cairn and chambers with passage approach which suggest the Boyne culture or some allied group. (9). [SK 12387104] TUMULUS. (10). Excavation produced twelve burials, a fragment of doubtful Western Neolithic, and some Peterborough pottery and flint tools. (12) Five Wells chambered tomb is situated on Taddington Moor on the limestone plateau of Derbyshire. The monument includes a roughly circular burial-mound measuring 23m by 22m and surviving to a height of c.1m. Originally the mound would have been somewhat higher, but most of the surface was robbed of its stone in the eighteenth century. Stone was also taken in the late nineteenth century from the western part and a number of pits on the south side were created in the mid-twentieth century when material was taken for hard-core. Visible today are the remains of two limestone orthostat chambers, situated back to back and orientated east-west with approach passages leading from the western and eastern edges of the mound. These internal features have paved floors and were covered by a cairn measuring 16m by 14.5m which was built of horizontally laid limestone slabs and covered in turn by a mound of earth and stone. In addition to the recovery of skeletal remains and pottery by workmen prior to the mid-eighteenth century, there have been four partial excavations of the monument carried out by Bateman in 1846, Jewitt in 1862, Lukis in 1865 and Salt between 1899 and 1901. Bateman recovered the remains of at least twelve individuals in the two chambers along with burnt bones and a flint, while Jewitt found pottery and a flint and Lukis found the remains of three skeletons in the western passage. Salt found further human remains within the chambers and passages along with flint implements, which included a leaf-shaped arrowhead and a plano-convex knife, and sherds of pottery of the types known as Neolithic plain ware and Peterborough ware. A barbed and tanged arrowhead was found on the surface of the mound and Salt also uncovered a cist in the north-western part of the monument which was placed outside the cairn but within the earth mound. This contained a contracted inhumation and, along with another inhumation and some burnt bone found in a pit in the top of the mound, is believed to be a secondary burial. The architectural features and archaeological remains indicate that the barrow was in use from the Early Neolithic, with a period of re-use either in the Late Neolithic or to the Bronze Age. (13) A much mutilated mound of earth and stone in which the remains of two chambers are visible. Maximum height 2.3m. Resurveyed at 1/2500 Buxton Museum hold all the material from the excavation. (14) According to Batemen, stone robbers found several skeletons in an orthostatic chamber. Most of the mound was removed for walling, leaving two roofless chambers back-to-back, with passages leading to the edge of the mound. Bateman excavated in 1846 finding the remains of at least 12 skeletons in the two chambers. Llewellyn Jewitt found, in 1862, some flints and pottery. F.D. Lukis found, in May 1865 three skeletons in the west chamber. Micah Salt in 1899-1901 found two more skeletons with flint, one in a cist built against the retaining wall of the cairn. He also found Grimston and Mortlake pottery, flint arrowheads and a plano-convex knife. (16) Most of the robbing took place in the 18th century but part of the western passage was removed between 1888 and 1899. A similar pit to the southeast may be of similar date. The two chambers are orientated east-west and have approach passages that were 2½ and 5.0m long. They were built into a stone cairn of horizontally laid stone slabs with an outer vertical face of 16.0m x 14½m diameter. Beyond this the mound was of soil and stone. The cist found by Salt in 1899 lay here, abutting the central podium in the north-west quadrant. The only details of early excavation are in Jewitt (1811) which notes that workmen found skeletal material in the east passage. Bateman notes bones found when the moor was enclosed but his source is unknown. Lukis (1868) also notes stone robbing prior to 1865 when skeletons and several pots were discovered. The skeletal material found in 1846 by Bateman was accompanied by burnt bones and a flint. Jewitt found only one flint and a few sherds. The skeletons found by Lukis were in the west passage (not the chamber as stated in Marsden) and were accompanied with animal bones (modern?). Salt's excavation found a human bone, sherds of Neolithic plain ware, Peterborough ware, a leaf arrowhead, a flake knife and a flake in the chambers and passages. A barbed and tanged arrowhead was found on the mound surface whilst the secondary cist contained a contracted inhumation with a flint flake. A second decayed inhumation with some burnt bone was found in a pit in the mound top. (9-18). Some of the contents are in Buxton Museum. (17). Chambered tomb located on the crest of a ridgetop with a good view of the ridgetop itself within 1km and all around within 5km. It was excavated by workman pre 1811 who found one to two inhumations in the eastern passage. Workman again excavation the barrow in the 18th century finding many human bones in the chambers. Bateman dug on the site in 1846 when he discovered two chambers , at least 12 inhumations and a flint. Workman again dug here ore 1865 who found pots and skeletons in an unspecified context. Jewitt dug in 1862 who also found sherds of pottery and a flint in an unspecified context. Lukis excavated here in 1865 and found two to three inhumations in the west passage, with animal teeth. Finally, Salt and Ward dug between 1899 to 1901. They found sherds of Neolithic plainware, Peterborough ware, a flint knife, a leaf arrowhead, flakes, a cist with a contracted inhumation and flake, a pit within the mound with an inhumation and cremation inside and within the mound itself a barbed and tanged arrowhead and pottery sherds. (19).

Sources/Archives (21)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: Pilkington, J. 1783. A View of the Present State of Derbyshire.
  • <2> Bibliographic reference: Jewitt, A. 1811. History of Buxton.
  • <3> Bibliographic reference: Bateman, T. 1848. Vestiges of the Antiquities of Derbyshire. pp 21 & 91.
  • <4> Bibliographic reference: Bateman, T. n.d.. Illustrations of Antiquity.
  • <5> Article in serial: 1851. Journal of British Archaeological Association. Vol 7. p 118.
  • <6> Article in serial: Lukis, F C. 1867-8. 'Archaeological notes made by Captain F D Lukis, HM 64th Regiment, during a visit to Buxton, in 1865', The Reliquary. Volume 8, pp 81-87.
  • <7> Article in serial: Ward, J. 1901. 'Five Wells Tumulus, Derbyshire', The Reliquary. Vol. 7 (NS), pp 229-242.
  • <8> Bibliographic reference: A.O. Archives, No. 2114.
  • <9> Bibliographic reference: Piggott, S. 1954. Neolithic Cultures of the British Isles. pp 267-269.
  • <10> Map: Ordnance Survey (OS). 1955. 6".
  • <11> Article in serial: Manby, T. 1958. 'Chambered tombs of Derbyshire', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 78, pp 25-39.
  • <12> Bibliographic reference: Thomas, N. 1960. A Guide to Prehistoric England. p 67.
  • <13> Scheduling record: Ministry of Works. 1961. Ancient Monuments of England and Wales. 13367.
  • <14> Personal Observation: F1 BHS 07-JAN-66.
  • <15> Article in serial: Radley, J & Plant, M. 1967. 'Two Neolithic sites at Taddington', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 87, pp 149-154.
  • <16> Bibliographic reference: Marsden, B. 1977. The Burial Mounds of Derbyshire. p 6.
  • <17> Index: North Derbyshire Archaeological Committee (NDAC). North Derbyshire Archaeological Committee Index. 1977: 1861.
  • <18> Bibliographic reference: Hawke-Smith, C F. 1979. 'Man-Land Relations in British Prehistory: The Dove-Derwent Interfluve, Derbyshire', British Archaeological Report. Series 64 (170).
  • <19> Unpublished document: Barnatt, J. 1989. The Peak District Barrow Survey (updated 1994). Site 5:6.
  • <20> Photograph: Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA). Slide Collection. 13515.1-25.
  • <21> Photograph: Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA). Black and white photograph collection. 431.9-15; 440.8a-10a.



Grid reference Centred SK 1237 7103 (23m by 23m) (Centre)

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Record last edited

Mar 16 2010 10:36AM

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