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Monument record MDR2794 - Chambered Cairn, Minninglow, Ballidon

Type and Period (4)

  • (Early Neolithic to Early Bronze Age - 4000 BC to 1501 BC)
  • (Early Neolithic to Early Bronze Age - 4000 BC to 1501 BC)
  • (Early Neolithic to Early Bronze Age - 4000 BC to 1501 BC)
  • (Early Neolithic to Early Bronze Age - 4000 BC to 1501 BC)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

Minninglowe Hill is the location of two tumuli, one superimposed onto the other (SMR 901 and 902) and a chambered tomb (SMR 915), east of the tumuli. The chambered tomb was excavated by Bateman in 1843, 1849 and 1851, opening and clearing out chambers 1, 2 and 4. He discovered that much of the cairn had already been robbed. (1,2,8,9) Extensive stone robbing of the chambered cairn has exposed a series of chambers in the western half although other structures/ features are visible. Five chambers were identified originally but only 4 now survive. (9, 11) The chambered cairn, now oval in plan measures 45 metres by 38 metres and is a height of 2.4 metres. (10) Excavations: Chamber 2 was found to be previously disturbed by Bateman but he discovered a few human and animal bones. Other trenches were dug into the mound producing human fragments, Roman pottery and coins. In June 1843 excavations showed 'in one part of this wall [surrounding the mound], which was exposed by excavation, a gallery formed of stones set edgeways, with others across the top of them, was found to have its commencement. This was not explored, owing to the roofing stones having fallen in in some places.' (1,8) As noted by Barnatt (11) this suggests another passage to a lost chamber. Marsden excavated in 1973 to 1974 small trenches in chambers 1 to 4 and a T-shaped trench to the north-east. In chamber 1 he found two small beaker sherds under the blocking to the passage, four human vertebrae and a child's tibia. In chamber 2, amongst debris were infant bones and two Romano-British sherds. In chamber 3, the fill was probably unexcavated by Bateman explaining the recovery of many Romano-British sherds, one sherd of Samian ware, one colour coated sherd, five Roman coins and a few human bones. In addition a Bronze ear-ring, thought to be Roman, but later reinterpreted as early Bronze Age was found. In chamber 4 Bateman found minute fragments of human bone and Romano-British pottery and in a trench to the north-east drystone walling, eight courses and 0.75 metres high, and partially robbed was found. (8) Minning Low is a mound orientated east-west. Chamber 1 is 1.3 by 0.9 metres and 1.9 metres high with a capstone 2.6 by 1.6 metres. Two portal stones and backstone support capstone. Two septals, the inner being 0.7 metres high, the outer septal is much lower. Virtually all the stones in the chamber and passage lean inwards. Passage capstone 1.5 by 1.6 meters. Passage entrance consists of two small orthostats with drywalling revetment to either side, five to seven courses high. The area in front of the passage entrance is blocked with inclined stone slabs. The passage is 1.5 metres long, ½ metre wide and 1.05 metres high. The orthostats with drywalling are ten courses high. The passage and chamber are orientated east-west. Chamber 2 is 1.6 by 1.2 metres and 1.7 metres high. Capstone. Two portal stones and backstone support capstone. The floor paving has been removed. Inner septal is ½ metre high. Sill at entrance. The passage is 2.2 metres long, 0.6 metres wide and 1.3 metres high. One orthostat has collapsed. The chamber and passage are orientated north-south. Chamber 3 is 2.4 by 1.8 metres and 2.3 metres high. The capstone has gone. One side slab has split and leans inward. Septal or closed chamber side. Portal stones. The paving has been removed. It is orientated north-south. Chamber 4 in the west side of chamber and passage was robbed except for one fallen stone. Septal. It measures 1.35 by 1.5 metres and is c.1 metre high. The passage is 2.6 metres long. (9) Minning Low hill lies within the south-eastern uplands of the limestone plateau of Derbyshire. The monument includes the chambered tomb and two bowl barrows within a single constraint area which also incorporates the archaeologically sensitive areas between and around the earthworks up to, but not including, the encircling drystone wall. The chambered tomb is the easternmost of these earthworks and comprises an oval cairn measuring 45 metres by 38 metres and surviving to a height of 2.4 metres. A wedge-shaped chamber of limestone slabs (Chamber I) survives with its capstone in situ at the centre of the mound, while a second complete chamber (Chamber II) lies c.5 metres to the south and also retains its capstone in addition to part of its south-facing passage which is similarly covered by a capstone. The remains of Chamber III lie c.5 metres to the west, while those of Chamber IV lie near the edge of the barrow c.6 metres south of Chamber III. The collapsed slabs of Chamber V lie on the western edge and a single upright slab near the centre of the barrow has been interpreted as the remains of a small cist. During the partial excavations of the site by Thomas Bateman in 1843 and 1851, the mound was found to be constructed of coursed stone and the chambers to contain human bones, including one extended skeleton, fragments of Romano-British Derbyshire ware pottery and a number of Roman coins. The latter show that the barrow had been disturbed in the third or fourth century AD, but Beaker sherds found by Bateman in Chamber IV indicate a Late Neolithic or Bronze Age date for that particular chamber. This represents the latest phase of Prehistoric use since further excavation, carried out by Barry Marsden in 1973 to 1974, has led to the barrow being interpreted as a multi-period site, beginning with the construction of Chamber I and its drystone walled approach passage in the Early Neolithic period. There is no precise chronology for the remaining phases but an extended period of use throughout the Neolithic and into the Early Bronze Age is indicated. Marsden also found evidence of Roman re-use of the site in three Roman bronzes and pottery sherds recovered from Chamber III. He also found a drystone wall running through the north-west side of the barrow. This was traced for c.10 metres and was orientated east-west. (10) Barnatt interprets the site as having gone through 3 main constructional phases, i) Earlier Neolithic: small, circular mound with chamber 1, ii) enlargement to long mound, other chambers added at 90 degrees to the original chamber and the long axis of the long mound. iii) further enlargement to existing shape. The presence of beaker sherds under the blocking to the chamber 1 passage suggests a Late Neolithic/ early Bronze Age date to the blocking, and if this was contemporary with the formation of the long mound then most of the chambers must be at least of this age. (11) Several internments of the Roman-British period have undoubtably been made in to the earlier mound at Minning Low. These include Roman coins, along with portions of sepulchral urns etc. These are principally of Claudius Gothicus, Constantine the Great, Constantine jun., Valentinian, and Constantine II. (12) Photographic record. (13-14) Site monitoring was been carried out in 2008 and site appears not to be under threat. (15) A digital copy of a water-colour and site plan of Minning Low, made by General Pitt-Rivers, was sent to the HER via the Pitt Rivers Museum. It was drawn in 1883 when he was first Inspector of Ancient Monuments. It is from a newly-discovered album of images donated to the museum by the Pitt-Rivers family. (16)

Sources/Archives (16)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: Bateman, T. 1848. Vestiges of the Antiquities of Derbyshire. pp 39-40.
  • <2> Bibliographic reference: Bateman, T. 1861. Ten Years' Diggings in Celtic and Saxon Grave Hills. pp 54,82.
  • <3> Map: Ordnance Survey (OS). 1955. 6".
  • <4> Article in serial: Manby, T. 1958. 'Chambered tombs of Derbyshire', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 78, pp 25-39. pp 31-34.
  • <5> Personal Observation: F1 BHS 20-APR-66.
  • <6> Bibliographic reference: Marsden, B. 1977. The Burial Mounds of Derbyshire. p4.
  • <7> Index: NDAT. 0165. 0165.
  • <8> Article in serial: Marsden, B. 1982. 'Excavations at the Minning Low chambered cairn (Ballidon 1), Ballidon, Derbyshire', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. pp 8-22.
  • <9> Unpublished document: Barnatt, J. 1989. The Peak District Barrow Survey (updated 1994). Site 10:5.
  • <10> Scheduling record: English Heritage. 1993. Scheduling Notification: Chambered carirn and two bowl barrows on Minning Low. Cat. No.: 5. 5.
  • <11> Bibliographic reference: Barnatt, J & Collis, J. 1996. 'A review & interpretation of extant sites & past excavations', in Barrows in the Peak District. pp 3-94.
  • <12> Article in serial: Watkin, W. 1886. 'The Roman minor settlements, camps, discoveries of coins etc, and roads in Derbyshire', Derbyshire Archaeology Journal. Volume 8, pp 190-215. p 192.
  • <13> Photograph: Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA). Slide Collection. 915.1-27.
  • <14> Photograph: Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA). Black and white photograph collection. 422.24a.
  • <15> Unpublished document: Golds, R (PDNPA). 2008. Scheduled Monument Monitoring Form: Minning Low Chambered Tomb and Bowl Barrows.
  • <16> Photograph: Photograph Collection, Conservation & Design section, Derbyshire County Council. HER Images (digital).



Grid reference Centred SK 2094 5727 (40m by 37m) (Centre)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (6)

  • EDR3174
  • EDR368
  • EDR533
  • EDR534
  • EDR535
  • EDR1251

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Record last edited

Jan 14 2015 4:11PM

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