Another visit to this site this time with a bit more information on the barrow itself. Deverel barrow is not as I thought last time the large, low round barrow easily visible from the footpath. It is in fact a clump of trees to the west of it with a circular flint wall surrounding what is left of the barrow.
Apologies to juamei, who I should never have doubted, the remains of the barrow is covered in sarsens. I counted 24, more could be hidden in the undergrowth. Most of the stones are about 18 inches across, the biggest is about 3 feet long and 2 feet high.
A group of the stones lay in a circle in the centre of the site, while the largest stone, which looks to be part of a cist is at the northwest corner of the barrow.
Incidently the information which lead to the correct site came from Peter Stanier's excellent book Dorset's Archaeology.
There are five barrows on this site. The most substantial is a medium sized bowl barrow in the middle of the group to east of what remains of Deverel barrow.
Adjacent to it is a small, low saucer barrow, which may well have been ploughed in the past. Also close by are two small bowl barrows, just around the corner, up a farm track.
This site is not the most spectacular I've seen, but it's archaeological importance cannot be underestimated. It, along with the now destroyed Rimbury barrow, show a significant cultural difference in the finds, from earlier local burials.
In some cases [during the excavations] when night was stealing on, and an urn had been but partially discovered, in order to ensure its preservation, I have bivouacked around the fire with my labourers till near midnight; no pleasant situation on a bleak and elevated Dorset Down in a November night.
Men were employed in dragging furze from an adjoining spot, and it was a fine subject for the talent of an artist to have described the venerable urn, smoking at the flame, while a red and flickering gleam played upon the countenances of the labourers, who stood around the fire, speaking in low and smothered tones, allowing their fears to work upon their imaginations, - their eyes fixed upon the flame and dead men's bone, - were afraid to look into the surrounding darkness.
The swell of the passing breeze as it fanned the fire, raised them from their reverie, or roused their attention from some direful story of goblin damned, which was gravely related and as faithfully believed. The effect produced by the narrative of the village thatcher added most strongly to the horror of their situation, as he gravely declared that his father and his elder brother had been most cruelly dragged about and beaten by some invisible hand, on the very down on which we stood. There was no danger of a deserter from my party, as fear kept them together...
'Most Haunted' eat your heart out. From p 28 of 'A Description of the Deverel Barrow, opened AD1825' by W.A. Miles (link below).
From the Salisbury and Winchester Journal, 2nd June 1828.
"notable antiquity of the Druids on Deverell down, which is only a short distance from the turnpike road....E.M.Pleydell, Esq. has had a wall about 46 yards in cicumference built around this ancient consecrated spot, within which are 25 stones, from 1 1/2 to 25cwt, now lying in the same plan of iconography as when the Druid's antimensum of earth was spread over this sacred spot. Here the Druids met as judges and arbiters for public and private judgements, took cognizance of murders, inheritances, and boundaries, and decreed rewards and punishments".
Deverel Barrow, round barrow (SY/819990) 1 mile NE of Milborne (A354), between Dorchester and Blandford; between Bagber and Deverel Farms. Finds in Dorchester Museum and Bristol Museum.
This barrow has a modern wall built around it. It was a bowl-barrow, with a mound 3 ft. high and about 40 ft. in diameter.
It was excavated in 1824 by W.A. Miles (whose initials can be found carved on the two large stones on the mound). Near, but not at the centre, a cremation was found in a collared urn. This gives the barrow a date c. 1,700-1,400 BC. Later, c. 1,250 BC. over 20 cremations were added to the mound which may have been enlarged to receive them. Many of these had been deposited in Middle Bronze Age barrel and bucket-shaped urns: most were found in pits, with stone slabs covering them.
Guide to prehistoric England - Nicholas Thomas 1976
This barrow was opened in the year 1824; and the various Urns which it contained are deposited, some in Whatcombe house, and some in the museum at Bristol. It has been inspected by Sir Richard C Hoare, Bart, F.A.S., who considers it to be more curious than any barrow yet discovered in this island. E.M.P.1827.
From the Salisbury & Winchester Journal, 2 june 1828.
One of the two sites that the Bronze age Deverel-Rimbury culture is named from. Rimbury being a now gone barrow near Weymouth. The barrow was excavated in 1824 and numerous creation urns were found. Visitors should expect to find sarcen stones on top of the mound which covered the inhumations.
(SY 81999900) Inscribed Stone on site of (NAT) Deverel Barrow (NR). (1)
SY 81999900 Deverel Barrow was excavated by W A Miles in 1824 when it measured 54 ft diameter and 12 ft high. Within the mound and resting on the old ground surface was a semi-circle of sarsen stones. Each of these stones, with the exception of the two largest, covered cists cut into the chalk, containing, in total, some seventeen cremations in globular and bucket urns set upright. Near the largest sarsen stone lay a cremation, possibly primary, in an inverted collared urn surrounded by flints. On the barrow floor were four more cremations in globular and bucket urns as well as four unaccompanied cremations. Five more chalk-cut cists containing cremation only, were also seen.
The globular and bucket urns and cremation ritual found within Deverel Barrow represented a culture phase within the Late Bronze Age period, now known as the Deverel-Rimbury culture (for Rimbury urnfield - see SY 68 SE 35).
Deverel Barrow is now almost entirely destroyed but its site is marked by a circular walled enclosure planted with trees. Inside, the only remains are a number of large stones on a slight mound.
An inscribed stone recording the excavation was set up in 1827 but this is now fragmented. (2). (2-3)
The site of Deverel Barrow is as described by R.C.H.M. (2) except that the inscribed stone fragments cannot now be identified. (4)
( 1) Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date) OS 6" 1968
( 2a) General reference - The Deverel Barrow 1826 (W A Miles)
( 2b) General reference - Celtic Tumuli of Dorset pt 3 No 59 (C Warne)
( 2c) General reference - Ant J 13 433-4
( 2d) General reference - Arch J 119 1962 57
( 2) General reference - RCHM Dorset 3 pt 2 1970 181-182 No 30
( 3) General reference - B A Round Barrow in Brit 1960 50 155-156 (P Ashbee)
( 4) Field Investigators Comments F1 JGB 29-MAY-81
A Description of the Deverel Barrow, Opened A.D. 1825: by William Augustus Miles.
The beginning of this pamphet consists of a fantastic amount of waffle. But then it gets better when he actually gets started on describing the excavation - and at the end are some nice drawings of the urns.
It's followed by a description of the "coal money" found at Kimmeridge - round carved pieces of the Kimmeridge shale, from the coast south of here.