Top Low, Blore.
Top Low is located upon the summit of a hill standing between the Staffordshire Moorlands villages of Blore and Swinscoe. It is an oval mound of stone and earth 1m high with maximum dimensions of 22m by 20m. Two pits upon the summit of the mound are evidence of excavation. Samuel Carrington opened Top Low in May 1849 and Thomas Pape reopened it in 1929. The field surmounting the top of the hill is shown on a tithe map of the parish dated 1845 as bearing the name Top Low Field.
The report on Carrington's excavations of 5th and 12th May 1849 contained in Bateman's "Ten Years Diggings.." occupy six pages (including the plan of the distribution of the graves kindly added to this site by Chris Collyer). Carrington describes Top Low as being "an elliptical-shaped barrow, about 15 yards wide" the barrow was presumed to have started out as a round barrow whose shape has altered over time as numerous subsequent interments were added to it. Carrington found an interesting variety of funerary practices in evidence at Top Low with 14 interments in total. Two cremation deposits were found, one housed in a pottery vessel and one a loose pile of burnt bones accompanied by a flint implement. 11 interments were complete or partial crouched inhumations, mostly adults. These were interred in various grave forms - some lain in stone-lined cists, some surrounded by lines of stone slabs, some with upright stones erected at the head and feet whilst others were placed upon or leaned against stone slabs. However, the most unusual deposit was found at the very centre of the mound where a small, roughly built cist contained the ritual animal burial of a young hog accompanied by an antler tine. Also found were a bronze clasp, a lozenge decorated drinking cup, a complete 'A' type beaker, a broken leaf-shaped flint arrowhead and fragments of a second beaker.
Pape's 1929 excavation of Top Low was confused from the start as he was not aware that the barrow he was excavating was Top Low, even though he found the skeletal remains of several individuals all mixed up and piled together (probably reinterred by Carrington's workmen during backfilling). He did find a fragment of a polished greenstone axe. Pape's excavation report was published in the Transactions of the North Staffs Field Club simply as "Excavation of a round barrow at Swinscoe". Even after completing the dig Pape admitted that he was not sure if the site was Top Low but he had "an uneasy suspicion" that it was.
There is no public access to Top Low but both field walls between the barrow and the public footpath were down when I visited. There is a free public car park beside the Blore to Ilam road which is just a short walk via public footpaths from the hill which Top Low and Net Low sit upon.
Scheduled Ancient Monument No. =1009654. Scheduled as Top Low bowl barrow. NMR = SK14 NW1. RSM = 13576.
Net Low, Blore
Net Low is located upon the lower slopes of the same hill Top Low surmounts and some have labelled it Top Low II. However, this barrow does seem to correspond with one "in a field called Nettles" opened by Carrington in 1849 which he thought was called Net Lows. The name of the field in which this barrow sits is shown as 'Blore Netlow' on a tithe map of the parish dated 1845. Net Low sits upon a natural knoll on the side of the valley to the South-West of St. Bartholomew's church, Blore. It is an oval earthen mound 0.7m high with maximum dimensions of 13m by 10m.
Samuel Carrington opened Net Low on 2nd June 1849. On the South-West side of the barrow he found a paved cist containing calcined bones and a broken urn of red clay which contained a small vase or incense cup of the same fabric. This may have been the primary interment. Nearby his excavation trench uncovered the disturbed remains of an skeleton which has been interpreted as an Anglo-Saxon secondary inhumation. Near to the skeleton the base of a wheel turned pottery vessel and an iron ring one and quarter inches in diameter were found.
Thomas Pape re-excavated Net Low in 1927 finding disturbed charcoal, teeth (including a human tooth) and the Anglo-Saxon secondary inhumation.
Public footpaths run along the valley bottom below the site and along the hillside above it allowing the barrow to be viewed easily.
Scheduled Ancient Monument No. =1009652. Scheduled as bowl barrow 380m SW of Blore church. NMR = SK14 NW2 RSM = 13575.
This elongated barrow has nearly five pages devoted to it in Bateman's "Ten years diggings" book which goes into detail about the various cists and bone remains found. In cist 4 on the plan he found 'the skeleton of a young hog inside a roughly built cist' and he later notes 'we are inclined to assign the post of honour to the cist containing the hog, which was placed nearest the centre'.