Having recently been engaged with several other gentlemen in opening a barrow or tumulus in the parish of Gillingham, Dorset, and known as Langbury Hill, I am desirous to lay the results before your readers, and to ask their opinion relative to the appearances presented. The barrow in question is a long low mound of earth, measuring,- in its present state, about one hundred feet from its eastern to its western extremity, by about thirty feet wide, while the highest part is some six feet above the level of the surrounding field.
Tradition states that it was the burial place of those who were slain in a battle between the Saxons and Danes ; doubtless referring to the battle of Penn, fought in 1016 between Edmund Ironside and Canute, the village of Penn being only a few miles distant, in a northerly direction.
The tradition proceeds to inform us that the blood shed on this occasion flowed as far as to a place still called Slaughter's Gate, and which is distant about a quarter of a mile from the barrow.
(102) Longbury or Slaughter Barrow (78752723), a long barrow, lies N. of Bainly Bottom at an altitude of about 320 ft., on the Corallian Beds; it is orientated E.–W. and measures 130 ft. in length, 40 ft. in width and up to 6½ ft. in height. When opened in 1802 several skeletons, perhaps primary burials, were found on the original ground level; when opened again in 1855 several other skeletons were found, perhaps secondary or intrusive, and fragments of 'some very rude earthen vessel'. A small excavation in 1951–2 gave no significant results. In 1953 part of a secondary or intrusive skeleton was found in the upper part of the mound. (C.T.D., Pt. 3, No. 84; Notes & Queries, 1st series, XII (1855), 364; Hutchins III, 615 (note), 662; Dorset Procs. 73(1951), 113; 76 (1954), 96.)
(ST 78752723) Longbury (NAT) Long Barrow (NR). (1)
A grass covered long barrow orientated east-west which has been extensively mutilated. It is 40.0m long and averages 13.0m in width, and is approximately 1.4m in height throughout.
6.0m from the east end a V-shaped trench has been dug across the mound from north to south, this trench is 3.5m wide at the top and does not go below the natural surface; it shows the composition of the mound to be a mixture of earth and small stone slabs.
There are four other depressions along the top of the mound, and the west end has been almost destroyed for 9.0m by a silage pit, the upcast from which has been thrown to the north. There are no visible side ditches. (2)
Longbury or Slaughter Barrow. A long barrow aligned east-west, and measuring 130ft long, 40ft wide and 6 1/2ft high. In 1802 the barrow was opened, when several skeletons, perhaps primary burials, were found on the original ground level. In 1855 it was again opened at
the east end when several skeletons were found, perhaps secondary or intrusive, and fragments of "some very rude earthen vessel". A small excavation by T Porter in 1951-2 produced no significant results. In 1953 part of a seconday or intrusive skeleton was found in the upper part of the mound. (3-4) ST 78752723. 'Longbury' (name in local use). No change except the silage pit at the west end has now been levelled, and the material
spread to the north and south at this point. This has resulted in the long barrow being reduced to an apparent length of 36.0m; it remains under grass. 1:2500 AM revised. (5)
This long barrow is now unique in Dorset as being the only long barrow not sited on the chalk downland. Another long barrow, now sadly destroyed, was in existence at Holdenhurst in Bournemouth. The destroyed barrow was excavated by Stuart Piggott in the thirties, this was the first time a mechanical digger is known to have been used in an archaeological dig.
Longbury has been excavated at least three times, in 1802 when skeletons were found, 1855 sherds of a "very rude vessel" and lastly in 1951 - 4 when a secondary burial and a crouched interment were discovered. The finds from this dig are on view in Gillingham museum.
The information on Magic says Longbury is unusual for its low lying and inconspicuous position. It has a broad view to the east though - and it's orientated east-west. It's about 35m long and between 1.5 and 2m high. There were excavations in 1802, 1855 and 1951, and agriculture has also taken its toll - it's a bit battered.
"The results of part excavation suggests that the barrow mound was constructed of soil covered by limestone slabs and capped with soil. The 1802 excavations revealed several skeletons on the original ground surface. In 1855 further skeletons were found just below the turf together with some unidentified pottery. In 1954 a skeleton, thought to be a crouched burial, was found just below the surface in the eroded section of the 1951 excavation."