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Old Ditch Longbarrow

Long Barrow


I have been reading David Field's wonderful book "Earthen long Barrows" recently, which has much to say about Old Ditch. This is one of a group of long mounds around the source of the river Till. Excavated by William Cunnington on one of his early digs in 1802, apparently by putting an unsympathetic trench longitudinally along the mound, ending 26m from the east end (I suppose the significance of the eastern end had not been discovered yet). A layer of decayed turf extended out from a central mound of it, leading him to make possibly the earliest suggestion of a pre-existing circular mound later replaced by the long 'un. Three skeletons laid out in an H shape on a pavement of flints at the west (?) end confused him as he had assumed a big barrow meant lots of dead folk, probably from a battle. But there was a large number of bird bones placed in there too

More intriguing to me is the classic shallow pit covered by the mound, 90cm x 50cm and 75cm deep, "cut with such exactness in the solid marl as though it had been done by a chisel" according to Cunnington. Characteristically, there was nothing in there...

Later, John Thurnam came by and thought it might be worth having a peek in the east end and found a cairn of flints covering another pavement of them, on which remains of one individual had evidently been cremated then covered up. How long between this cairn and the long mound is a mystery.

There were later two Bronze Age cremations placed near the surface of the mound in a shallow cist. One was examined by Cunnington but the first had been scattered by the excavators before he could get to it. No respect.

And apparently this is the only rectangular long barrow on Salisbury Plain. Years of maths classes have knocked any excitement that might hold out of me...
UncleRob Posted by UncleRob
11th June 2009ce

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