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Golden Barrow (destroyed)

Round Barrow(s)

<b>Golden Barrow (destroyed)</b>Posted by ChanceImage © Sir Richard Colt-Hoare, 1810, Ancient Wiltshire, Vol.i, p.99
Also known as:
  • Upton Lovell G2e
  • Monument No. 211440

Nearest Town:Warminster (9km WNW)
OS Ref (GB):   ST944401 / Sheet: 184
Latitude:51° 9' 34.4" N
Longitude:   2° 4' 48.32" W

Added by Rhiannon


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<b>Golden Barrow (destroyed)</b>Posted by Chance

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Details of barrow on Pastscape

A bowl barrow, excavated by Colt Hoare in 1803 and 1807, and originally recorded as Upton Lovell 2e by Goddard. Colt Hoare's excavations located a primary cremation and a secondary cremation or cremations which had grave goods including gold beads, a rectangular gold plate, two small gold cones, over 1,000 amber beads and some space plates, a tonged bronze awl, grape cup, small flat bronze dagger. Some of these finds are present in Devizes Museum accession number 225-33. In 1956 the barrow was visible as a slight mound, 18 inches high, surrounded by a ditch. However field investigations in 1968 located no visible remains of the barrow.
Chance Posted by Chance
28th May 2014ce

August 1st, Heytesbury 1803.
THE tumulus opened last Thursday in Upton Lovel parish, is situated a few yards north of the river Wily. It is of a pyramidical form, the base length 58 feet by 38 feet wide [g] and 22 feet in the slope, and stands from east to west. The northside of the barrow is extremely neat, the fouth side is much mutilated. On making a section lengthways on the barrow, at about two feet deep we found in a very shallow cist, human burnt bones piled in a little heap; and at the distance of a foot a considerable quantity of ashes which contained small fragments of human bones; above, and at two feet distant from the bones were found the following articles of pure gold, which are neatly wrought, and highly burnished, viz. about thirteen gold beads made in the form of a drum, having two ends to screw off and perforated in the sides; [i] 2ndly, a thin plate of the same metal 2.25 inches by 5.25 inches; this is very neatly ornamented, as you will see by the annexed drawing: [k] 3dly, a beautiful Bulla (as I conjecture) of a conical form; [1] the inside of this is a solid cone of wood, the gold -which completely covered it is very thin ; at the base are two holes for a thread or wire by which it was suspended; near the above were found four articles, viz. two of each, that appeared once to have covered the ends of slaves. [m] Among the gold ornaments lay several flat pieces of amber, the eighth of an inch in thickness, and about an inch wide ; there were all perforated lengthways, but were sadly broken in getting out. What is very extraordinary, there were also nearly one thousand amber beads of different sizes. Close to the pile of ashes we found a very small urn, a lance-head of brass, and a pin of the same metal. The urn is of a very extraordinary form, appearing exactly as though it had been stuck all over with small black grapes. In this barrow, contrary to the usual method of interment on the Downs, which are on or in the native soil, we found the cist nearly on the top; and this deviation was probably occasioned from the wetness of the foil, being near the river, or it might have been the manner of interring their great chieftains. From the vail quantity of beads, it might be conjectured that a female had been interred here, but it is well known that our British chiefs wore pearls, beads, etc. On some of the coins of Conobeline we fee beads or pearls on the head. We find in other respects similar method of interment to what we find in many other barrows ; the small urn, lance-head of brass, brass pin, etc. are common. From the profusion of valuable ornaments, for valuable they must have been at the period of their interment, we might rationally conclude this barrow to have been the sepulchre of some great chief; in all probability a chief of the Belgic Britons.
William Cunnington, Archaeologia, Vol. 15, p.122-26
Chance Posted by Chance
19th December 2011ce

TUMULUS XX (AW 98) Copy of a letter to H.P. Wyndham Esq July 28th 1803.
Sir I have this day opened a barrow in Upton Lovell it is situated in the meads a few yards north of the river Wylye. As the discoveries in this barrow are more important in their nature than any other ever yet made I hasten to inform you the particulars. This Barrow of a pyramidal form or rather like the common of houses, pointing East to West, is in the base 52 by 32 feet, the slope 22ft, the length on the top 22 feet. The North side of the barrow is extremely ? the south side is much mutilated. On making a section lengthways of the barrow, at about two feet deep we found in a very shallow cist human burnt bones piled in a little heap, and at a foots distance a considerable quantity of ashes, which also contained small fragments of human bones, upon which and at two feet distant from the bones were found the following articles of pure gold, which are neatly wrought and highly polished, viz about ten gold beads* made in the form of a drum ? two ends to ~off and perforated in the sides..see Plate XI fig 5 ~.a thin plate of the same metal# nearly 9 inches by 6 inches long , this is very neatly ornamented as you will see by Plate XI fig ?. by a beautiful Bulla of a conical form, see fig 3 in the same plate- and inside this is a solid cone of wood, the gold which completely covered it is very thin, at the base are two holes for a thread or wire by which it was suspended see fig 4. near the above were found of gold four articles viz.. two of which that appeared once t have covered the ends of staffs (some of my friends say they are small boxes. see plate XI fig 1 and 2. Among the gold ornaments lay several flat pieces of amber, about the eight of an inch in thickness , and about an inch wide, -they were all perforated lengthways but were sadly broken in getting out. (see plate two fig 2 when joined they were the exact form of those found in Deverell Barrow only bigger). What is every extraordinary there were also nearly one thousand amber beads of different sizes see Plate X fig 2.- Close to the pile of ashes we found a very small urn see Plate X fig 1. Also a lance head of brass and a pin of the same metal-see the same plate. The urn is of a very extraordinary form, appearing as though it had been studded all over with small black grapes. In this barrow, contrary to the usual custom of interment on the Downs, which is generally on, or in the native soil we found the cist nearly on the top of the barrow and this deviation was probably occasioned by the wetness of the soil, the barrow being near the river. We find in other respects a similar method of interment to what we find in many other barrows, the small urn, lance head of brass, brass pin etc are common. From the profusion of valuable ornaments, for valuable they must have been at the period of their interment, we might naturally conclude this barrow to have been the sepulchre of a great chief of the Belgic+ Britons. + Mr Coxe objects to the word Belgic, suppose we say a British chief near the time of Caesars invasion.
William Cunnington, Manuscript Letters, Vol., p.35-6
Chance Posted by Chance
19th December 2011ce

On the northern banks of the river Wily is a barrow, which from the nature and richness of its contents we have denominated the GOLDEN BARROW. It was opened for the first time in the year 1803. At the depth of two feet we found a little pile of burned human bones placed in a shallow bason-like cist., and at the distance of one foot from the bones was a considerable quantity of ashes intermixed with small fragments of burned bones. About two feet from the pile of bones, the following articles were discovered. 1. Thirteen gold beads made in the form of a drum, having two ends to screw off, and perforated in two places on the sides for the purpose of stringing. 2. A thin plate of the same metal, six inches in length, and nearly three in width, richly wrought, and perforated at the four corners. 3. Another ornament in form of a cone, decorated with circles and zigzags, and fitted closely to a piece of dark wood, like ebony, on which the marks of the pattern still appear impressed ; the bottom part of this article is also perforated. The above are all of pure but thin gold, neatly worked, and highly burnished. The large flat plate must have been, like the cone, strengthened by a strip of wood behind; and the whole, by their several perforations, are strongly marked as forming the decorative accoutrements of some distinguished British chieftain. Besides the above, were two small articles in gold, resembling little boxes, about an inch in diameter, with a top, in the form of a cone, to take off. I cannot conjecture to what purpose these were appropriated, as they bear no sign of perforation. The whole of these have been correctly drawn of their original size, and form the interesting contents of TUMULI PLATE X. Besides the above precious articles of gold, we discovered some large plates of amber, similar to those delineated in TUMULI, PLATE ITI. and above a thousand beads of the same substance, and of different sizes; also a curious little cup, studded over with projecting knobs, which appear to have been first made in the form of glass stoppers to a bottle, and afterwards inserted into -the circular holes of the CLIP, which had been previously drilled -fur receiving them : between these grapelike protuberances are other perforations, which still remain open. Such was the result of our researches in the year 1803 ; but not being completely satisfied, and still thinking that the primary interment had escaped our vigilance, I was anxious that a further trial should be made, which took place in July, 1807, and was attended with success ; for, on the same level, and within a few inches of the very spot where the golden trinkets and the amber beads had been found, we discovered two cups, the one placed within the other. The largest of these was covered with a profusion of zigzag ornaments, but on taking out, was unfortunately broken to pieces ; the smaller one, containing about a pint, is quite plain, and in good preservation. These cups, together with the necklace of amber beads, and a small lance head, and pin of brass, which were found near the pile of ashes in the same barrow, form the contents of (TUMULI, PLATE XI.) Still pursuing our excavations to the floor of the barrow, we there found an oblong cist, about eighteen inches deep, which contained a simple interment of burned bones, unaccompanied with either arms or trinkets. This was certainly the primary funereal deposit ; but, however rich in materials, or elegant in form, the articles found nearer the surface of the barrow may be deemed, their high antiquity cannot be disputed ; for although the grape cup exceeds in beauty and novelty of design any we have as yet discovered, the other two cups of unbaked clay, and rude workmanship, bespeak the uncivilized aera to which the construction of this sepulchral mound may be justly attributed.
Sir Richard Colt-Hoare, 1810, Ancient Wiltshire, Vol.i, p.98-100
Chance Posted by Chance
19th December 2011ce

This barrow is long lost. But I hope the TMA Eds will permit its inclusion as it held the most amazing (and famous) collection of grave goods, and (some of) these, at least, have survived; you can see them in Devizes museum. Also, the truly obsessed will get a kick out of visiting the spot, without the need for the barrow to even be present...

Eagles and Field* say that early OS maps place the barrow at ST94444010, but the exact site isn't definitely known. Aerial photos show at least seven round mounds in the vicinity, so perhaps it'll never be certain.

Curiously, the mound was already built and occupied by a cremation when the two new cremations and their accompanying wealth were added - it's a shame we can only speculate about the story behind this.

*B Eagles and D Field - William Cunnington and the long barrows of the River Wylye. In 'Monuments and Material Culture' ed. R Cleal and J Pollard, 2004.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
21st June 2006ce
Edited 21st June 2006ce

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Metalworker or shaman: Early Bronze Age Upton Loveli G2a burial


Article from Antiquity June, 2000 on the Upton Loveli G2a burial and the gold finds
Chance Posted by Chance
11th January 2012ce

Wiltshire Heritage Museum


Information about the excavation and contents of the barrow.

With delicious photos here.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
21st June 2006ce
Edited 20th December 2011ce