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Monument record MDR938 - Liffs Low Bowl Barrow, The Liffs, Hartington Nether Quarter

Type and Period (6)

  • (Late Neolithic - 3000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • (Late Neolithic - 3000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • (Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age - 3000 BC to 1501 BC)
  • (Bronze Age - 2350 BC to 701 BC)
  • (Early Neolithic - 4000 BC to 3001 BC) + Sci.Date
  • (Late Neolithic - 3000 BC to 2351 BC)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

A mutilated cairn, having no specific name, upon a ridge of high land near Biggin, called the "Liffs". It was opened on the 14th July 1843 when an important burial of the Secondary Neolithic Dorchester Culture was found consisting of an inhumation burial in an octagonal cist accompanied by a remarkable vessel of uncertain affinities, two polished flint axes, a perforated antler mace-head, two polished-edge knives, two flint 'spearheads', two flint arrowheads, two boars tusks and pieces of red ochre. (1,4). An antler mace-head with cylindrical perforation was found at Liffs Lowe. (1,3,6). The Ordnance Survey maps record the site at SK 15315766 as a tumulus. (5). Liffs Low became a scheduled monument on the 28th February 1963. Liffs Low bowl barrow is a sub-circular cairn situated on the south-western ridges of the limestone plateau of Derbyshire on the eastward side of The Liffs. The monument includes a mound measuring 18 metres by 14½ metres with an average height of c.1½ metres. A Neolithic date for the monument is indicated by its location beneath the crest of a hill and is corroborated by the partial excavations carried out by Thomas Bateman in 1843 when it was found that the cairn contained at least one cist with an inhumation burial accompanied by flint and antler artefacts and a pot of unusual form dating to the transition between the Neolithic and Beaker periods. A second partial excavation carried out in the 1930s revealed a second cist containing a skeleton and a beaker. Bronze staining on some of the bones indicates the re-use of the cairn in the early Bronze Age. (7,8). A substantial mound of earth and stone but so mutilated as to be almost a spoil mound. Resurveyed at 1:2500 in 1966. (9). No change. (10). Additional references. (11,12). In the 1930's excavation by Mr. Bridge, a relation of the then farmer uncovered a small cist with an inhumation. The skeleton has interesting palaeopathology and bronze staining on some bones. A Beaker was also recovered. (14). The 1930s excavation trench was emptied in 1983 to 1984 and the site's structure was examined by Barnatt. It has a complex constructional phasing sequence established involving pre-barrow activity, the construction of a primary earthen mound with secondary extensions to one side in stone with 'kerbing'. The context of Mr Bridge's finds was better understood and the work published. PRE-BARROW: a series of 41 stakeholes and two pits were found. No finds were made in direct association. Carbon 14 dates, on carbon from the fill of one pit (5000+/-80 BP (OxA 2290)) and on a discrete charcoal spread in the pre-barrow surface (4850+/-80 BP (OxA 2291)), suggest Earlier Neolithic activity of a non-settlement nature. PRIMARY EARTHEN BARROW: probably constructed of turves overlain by subsoil and under this primary barrow was a probable buried topsoil. A diameter of c. nine to ten metres is suggested reaching a height of 0.35 metres. Across the southern half there was indications that the surface of the earthen barrow had been covered with limestone slabs and it is thought this was probably associated with this primary barrow phase rather than a later addition. A limited quantity of calcined bone came from within the earthen barrow. Within the stony layer and sealed by it were more bone fragments from the skeleton recovered by Bridge, along with some more calcined bone. Barnatt suggests this skeleton must have been disturbed in prehistory. THE SOUTHERN ADDITION: in the southern half the stone capping of the earthen barrow was covered by loam with charcoal flecks. The latter was upto 0.65 metres thick and represented a clear and substantial enlargement. This may have been edged with limestone slabs. THE NORTHERN ADDITIONS - Lower Barrow: a pit running under the unexcavated portion of the primary barrow contained charcoal thought to be residual and dated to 4960+/-70 BP (OxA 2354). It is believed this pit may contain a burial. Dolomitic limestone slab additions appear to represent a later phase of construction. THE NORTHERN ADDITION - Upper barrow: above the lower barrow enlargement was a feature formed of limestone slabs forming a fan-shaped arrangement of slabs placed on the barrow crest with each slab set at c.40-50 degrees from vertical. Below this the barrow side was faced with small angular limestone. Slabs at the southern end of the barrow were on a carefully built limestone supporting wall. The latter is two to three courses high and increased in height from 0.23 metres at the south-west end to 0.4 metres at the north-eastern end. T his wall was built on the surface of the primary mound. (15-18). Stakeholes and pits under the barrow pre-date the mound but it is not clear if they are part of the pre-mound ritual activity or earlier settlement features. A few plain Neolithic sherds were found. One pit provided a charcoal date in the first half of the fourth millennium BC. Similar dates came from residual charcoal in the buried soil under the edge of the mound, and in redeposited turves within the construction of the mound. (16). Photographic record. (19,20). Photographs of site availble. (21)

Sources/Archives (21)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: Bateman, T. 1848. Vestiges of the Antiquities of Derbyshire. pp 41-43, illus.
  • <2> Bibliographic reference: Jewitt, L. 1870. Grave Mounds and their Contents. Fig. 29.
  • <3> Article in serial: Piggott, S. 1931. 'The Neolithic Pottery of the British Isles', Archaeological Journal. Volume 88, p131. p131.
  • <4> Bibliographic reference: Piggot, S. 1954. Neolithic Cultures of the British Isles. p356.
  • <5> Map: Ordnance Survey (OS). 1955. 6".
  • <6> Article in serial: Davidson, T. 1956. 'Elf-shot cattle', Journal of Antiquities. pp 149-155. pp 149-155.
  • <7> Article in serial: Heathcote, J. 1963. 'Scheduled Ancient Monuments in Derbyshire', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 83, pp 94-96. p95.
  • <8> Scheduling record: English Heritage. 1965. Scheduling Notification: Liffs Low Bowl Barrow. 13303. Cat. No.: 176.
  • <9> Personal Observation: F1 FRH 06-JUL-66.
  • <10> Personal Observation: F2 FDC 05-JAN-72.
  • <11> Bibliographic reference: Marsden, B. 1977. The Burial Mounds of Derbyshire. p7.
  • <12> Bibliographic reference: Kinnes , I A. 1979. Round Barrows and Ring Ditches in the British Neolithic. p17,65.
  • <13> Index: NDAT. 1101. 1101.
  • <14> Index: OS. SK 15 NE 8. SK 15 NE 8.
  • <15> Unpublished document: Barnatt, J. 1989. The Peak District Barrow Survey (updated 1994). Site 9:2.
  • <16> Unpublished document: Barnatt, J (PDNPA). 1990. Biggin Grange, Hartington Nether Quarter, Derbyshire, archaeological survey, 1990. p1.
  • <17> Article in serial: Barnatt, J (PPJPB). 1995. 'Neolithic and Bronze Age radiocarbon dates from the Peak District: a review', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Vol 115, pp 5-19.
  • <18> Bibliographic reference: Barnatt, J and Collis, J. 1996. 'A Multiphased Barrow at Liff's Low, near Biggin, Derbyshire', in Barrows in the Peak District. pp 95-136.
  • <19> Photograph: Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA). Slide Collection. 6909.1-17.
  • <20> Photograph: Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA). Black and white photograph collection. 461.1-28.
  • <21> Unpublished document: Marriott, J (PDNPA). 2011. Scheduled Monument Monitoring Form: Liffs Low Bowl Barrow.



Grid reference Centred SK 1531 5766 (20m by 20m) (Centre)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (6)

  • EDR630
  • EDR3991
  • EDR3137
  • EDR3138
  • EDR814
  • EDR846

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Record last edited

Jun 22 2015 8:51AM

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