The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Swarth Howe

Barrow / Cairn Cemetery


THOMAS CHAPMAN, Esq. communicated an Account, by Mr. SAMUEL ANDERSON of Whitby, of the Opening of an ancient British Barrow, known as Swarthoue.

This Barrow stands on a lofty ridge of land, four miles from Whitby, and eighty yards from the high road leading from that place to Guisborough. It is the centre one of three Barrows having a direction W.N.W. and E.S.E., and is the largest of the ancient British Tumuli in its immediate vicinity.

There has been at one time a line of large stones pointing from one Barrow to the other, but only two of these now remain. On these are several markings, corresponding with those on a stone found within the Barrow.

The circumference of Swarthoue is 280 feet at its base. An opening was commenced on the N.W. side, removing a section to the centre, and going down to the surface of the ground on which it is based; the cutting was then continued in a westerly direction, and, after reaching the surface again, traces of an interment were discovered, with an urn of the usual character.

A further search led to the discovery of two spear-heads of flint, and two ornaments of jet; one of them a ring punctured with two holes as if for suspension, the other with one hole only.

On the N.W. side were discovered traces of dark matter, apparently the decomposed remains of a human body which had been buried entire. Further excavations were proceeded with to the south, and to the eastward, when a stone flag was found to cover a vault measuring internally three feet by two feet, and about sixteen inches deep, the sides being formed of two stones each, and the ends of one only. Within this Cist or Coffin nothing was discovered save a little charcoal and some dark decomposed matter. A little further a portion of a bone Pin, and a small Urn embedded in charcoal, and calcined bones, were found.

This Barrow had been laid slightly concave, or "dished" at the top. It had three walls running across it from north to south, about five feet in length and three feet apart, four feet in height and about two feet thick, many of the stones being so large that they were as much as two strong men could lift. The only object of importance found within these walls was a marked or carved stone of a character similar to that already mentioned.
From the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of London, volume 3, 1856.

But what were these markings or carvings? Cupmarks? or the undulating of the stone in Fitzcoraldo's photo, or something else?
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
19th April 2013ce
Edited 19th April 2013ce

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