Friday, March 14, 2008

The Barrows

"The Nineteenth Century-
During this century the study of prehistory took shape, due to discoveries in several fields of knowledge. However, there were also set-backs. For instance, the period 1840-1870 was the golden age of barrow looting. Local societies arranged "excavations" for the Sunday afternoon enjoyment of their members who frequently included ladies. Indeed, archeological studies have always offered equal opportunities to those females who have the stanima to compete. In 1870 J. H. Parker informed the Oxford Architectural and Historical Society that 'to find out whether a young lady knows anything of Archaeology or not, is a test whether she has been highly educated or not. The daughters of our higher nobility...are almost always well acquainted with Archaeology. Some of my favorite pupils have been young ladies of this class, our future Duchesses and Countesses.'
However, barrow digging could be as tedious for the diggers as reading most of the accounts of it can be for the modern scholar. Thomas Wright records an unrewarding afternoon in 1854 in which, after procuring a plentiful supply of provisions for picnicking, 'we all felt somewhat of a dissapointment as our men labored hour after hour, and no sepulchral chamber presented itself, and not even a burial-urn could be found to reward our patience'. But all enjoyment was not lost on this occasion, as they contrived to pass the time between eating and digging 'in games of various descriptions- not exactly such as those with which the builders of the mound celebrated when they laid the deceased on his funeral pile- and in other amusements.'"
------From The Origins of Britain- Lloyd and Jennifer Lang 1980

In this spirit, The Duke of Greystoke has opened the longbarrow on his estate to public exploration! Come discover the secrets of the tomb. It is advised to set view to midnight, grab a torch, read the notes as you go thru, and scroll your view perspective somwhat in, as these passages can be cramped. Find the Barrow entrance under the dolmen stones found near the barn, pack a picnic, and enjoy!