Monument record MDR22861 - Burial Mound, Vicarage Garden, Repton

Type and Period (1)

  • (Saxon - 873 AD to 920 AD (post))

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Full Description

This feature was first recognised as a burial mound in the late 17th century, when a workman, Thomas Walker, opened the mound looking for building stone. A local antiquarian published an account of the discovery forty years after the event. According to the published account, Walker first found a stone wall in the mound. He then dug along the line of the wall, to find that the wall had once been a part of a stone structure. Within the remains of the structure he reportedly found a large stone coffin with a large number of human bones neatly arranged around it. Upon opening the coffin, Walker is said to have discovered the skeleton of a ‘Nine Foot long’ body. Other accounts indicate that the mound was opened on two subsequent occasions; once in the late 18th century and again in 1914. On both occasions the excavators only reported finding was a mass of human bone. The Biddles identified that the mound had originally been oval in shape, with its longest axis orientated roughly west to east. A stone kerb had originally marked the edge of the mound. Three, possibly four, stone-filled pits were located at the margins of the mound. One of these pits was situated at the northwest corner, another lay at the southwest corner, and a third lay just to the south of the mound. What might have been a fourth pit lay just to the north of the mound. The Biddles believed these pits might have contained offerings. Two metres from the south-west of the corner of the mound was a burial containing the skeletons of four young people. The first body was of a child buried in the Christian manner, lying supine orientated west to east. Three crouched burials had been placed over the supine body. Two children had been placed, back-to-back, over its legs, whilst a youth had been placed next to the original child’s upper body. Traces of what appeared to be a marker were discovered just to the south of the grave. As the antiquarian account had suggested, the mound had been erected over an existing structure. This structure was originally entered from the west, by a couple of descending steps. These steps led into a chamber roughly 3 metres square. A smaller chamber lay to the east of the first chamber. The Biddles believed that the structure had originally served as a mausoleum. This belief rested not only on the building lay partly below the ground, but also that the outer faces of walls had been faced with well dressed stone, the interior had been faced with stucco and glass had been used in the windows. The building appears to have fallen into decay some time before the mound was placed over it. The western chamber seems to have been used as a workshop shortly before the construction of the mound. Evidence for this came in the form of the discovery of iron tongs, along with a litter of metal waste, charcoal, broken glass and broken carved stones on the floor of this chamber. The discovery of a large number of disarticulated human bones in the eastern chamber confirmed reports of the earlier intrusions. The vast majority of these bones were jumbled together in disorganised mass. At the very bottom of this jumble, a few limb bones were found to be stacked in an orderly manner. This provided further corroboration of 18th century account of Walker’s original discovery. An initial analysis of the, bones conducted not long after their recovery, suggested that they represent the remains of at least 264 individuals, most of whom were described as ‘robust’. Further study of the bones conducted in the early 1990s managed to determine the age and gender of 253 of these individuals. This suggested that 82% of the individuals whose bones were found in the mound were male and only 18% were female. Even more notable was the observation that 97% of those discovered in the mound were adults and only 3% were juveniles. These findings appear to confirm the hypothesis that the burial within the mound was associated in some way with the winter camp of the Viking army. This theory seemed to be confirmed by the artefacts that were found within the mass burial.

Sources/Archives (3)

  • --- Article in serial: Degg, S. 1728. An account of an human skeleton of an extraordinary size, found in a repository at Repton in Derby-shire. 35.
  • <1> Article in serial: Biddle, M. and Kjolbye-Biddle, B.. 1992. 'Repton and the Vikings', Antiquity. Vol 66, pp36-51.
  • <2> Article in monograph: Biddle, M. and Kjolbye-Biddle, B.. 2001. Repton and the ‘Great Heathen Army’, 873-4..



Grid reference Centred SK 3022 2716 (13m by 12m)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (1)

  • EDR4528

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External Links (0)

Record last edited

Aug 1 2018 2:18PM

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