Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

ary kind of evidence does not seem entitled to much credit, as the view of the stones themselves, and their relative situations, are almost demonstrative of the contrary. Within the circle are some smaller stones, scattered irregularly; and near the centre are three larger ones, erroneously supposed to have once formed a cromlech.

The width of the ditch, which immediately surrounds the area on which the stones are placed, is about six yards; the height of the bank or vallum, on the inside, is from six to eight yards ; but this varies throughout the whole circumference, which on the top is nearly two hundred and seventy yards. The vallum seems to have been formed of the earth thrown up from the ditch. To the enclosed area are two entrances, each of the width of ten or twelve yards; and opening on the north and south. On the east side of the southern entrance is a large barrow, standing in the same line of circumference as the vallum, but wholly detached, excepting at the bottom. This barrow was opened in June, 1782, by H. Rooke, esq. and the horns of a stag were discovered in it:* and June 1, 1824, by Mr. Samuel Mitchell of Sheffield, and the engraving here inserted is copied from an accurate drawing made by that gentleman.

[graphic]

About the distance of half a mile from Arbor-low, to the west, is another large barrow, called End-low, in which ashes and burnt bones have been found. From this, numerous barrows may be seen on the distant eminences; and in some of them, urns, human bones, ashes, and other memorials of the customs of remote ages, have been discovered. The names of several places in this neighbourhood are also indicative of antiquity, though the places themselves are now of little account; as Aldvark, five miles south of Arbor-low, on the Roman road from Buxton to Little Chester; Aldport, on another ancient way leading from Aldwark towards Bakewell, and some others.

Near to Wardlow, a barrow was examined in the year 1759, by the Rev. Mr. Evat of Ashford. There were discovered in it about seventeen human bodies. These appeared to have been laid on the surface of the ground, upon long flat stones. They were enclosed by two side walls, and the head and breast of each were protected from the incumbent weight of stone by a flat one laid over that part of the top. Two bodies near the middle of the barrow were walled up and covered from head to foot, in the form of a long chest, with a stone cover to each. Jaw bones, teeth, &c. were found undecayed, but none of the larger ones of the body. The low was thirty-two yards in diameter and five feet high. The coffins were two feet deep, and the complete ones seven feet six inches long.

At the summit of the eminence which rises above the little village of CHELMORTON, there are two considerable barrows, within a short distance of each other. The circumference of the largest is nearly eighty yards; that of the smallest about seventy: on the top of both is a circular cavity or bason. A barrow, about the size of the former of those now mentioned, described by Pilkington, as being situate about a quarter of a mile north-east from Chelmorton, was opened in the year 1782, by some labouring men who were searching for stone to build a walled fence in a neighbouring field. “After removing a thin covering of moss and soil from the lower extremity of the mount or barrow, they discovered a kind of breast-work, or regular wall of single stones, formed without mortar. Not apprehensive of meeting with any thing extraordinary beyond this wall, they proceeded with their work, but were soon surprised with the sight of several human bodies. They found that the wall was at the end of a cell or coffin, in which the bodies had been deposited. The breadth of the cell within was two feet; but its depth was not fully ascertained, though supposed to be about a yard. The sides consisted of stones about eight inches thick and two feet wide; they were placed on their edge, and formed a kind of partition : the stones used for the covering were from one to three inches thick, but not larger.

* Pilkington's View of Derbyshire, Vol. II. page 461.

“Though some of the stones and a small quantity of the soil had fallen into the vault, yet several human bodies or skeletons might be clearly distinguished, lying at full length, with their heads towards the centre of the mount. The bones had never been disturbed, and were apparently united at the different joints, but by the slightest motion were found to be entirely loose and unconnected: upon examination, they were discovered to be remarkably strong and sound; the ribs, in particular, were so little decayed, that they would easily bend without breaking. Those who saw the bones thought that they were uncommonly large; and it was imagined that the persons to whom they belonged, must have been, when alive, at least seven feet high: the teeth were sound and perfect. From the number of bones and skulls, and the dimensions of the vault, it was supposed that it contained about four or five human bodies; and though only one vault was opened, it was presumed that others were carried throughout the whole circumference of the mount, and might be about twenty in number."*

Between Chelmorton and Buxton, within about one mile of the latter, near a hill called Staden low, are the remains of some ancient earth-works, which Dr. Stukeley has noticed in the second volume of his Itinerary. Since his time the ground has been enclosed and cultivated, but sufficient vestiges may be distinguished to ascertain the form of these memorials of antiquity. They consist of two divisions; an ellipsis and an oblong square. The former, supposed by the Doctor to have been a place for shows, is encompassed by a shallow ditch, nearly a yard and a half wide; and a mound or bank, about one foot high, and seven yards and a half broad; the enclosed area measures forty-five yards from south-east to north-west, and sixty-six from north-east to southwest. The square division is bounded by a vallum, now nearly levelled by the plough, and extends in length forty-five yards and in breadth twenty-four. A small semicircular cove of earth is mentioned by Stukeley as being at the side of the circle furthest from the square.

It is very probable, from the derivation of the names of many villages in this county ending in the syllable Low, that they were sacred places in the time of the Druids, and may be supposed to contain barrows not hitherto discovered. We may rely upon this conclusion with more certainty, as barrows have been opened at Wardlow and Hurdlow.— The Swarkstone-Lows consisted formerly of three very large mounds, but one of them has been levelled by the plough; and the other two remain in very great preservation. At this ancient pass a battle was undoubtedly fought, although history makes no mention of such an occurrence. — At the small village of. Priestcliff is a low, situate on a lofty eminence, surrounded by a deep valley; and on this eminence there is a singular well, fed by a clear spring, which is said never to fail.—On the top of the Great Finn, in the township of Taddington, there are many ancient British remains.

Mr. Bray, who has described the Woodlands, in his Tour through Derbyshire, observes, that a large stone, lying on the side of a hill to the right of the village, was removed some years ago, and that under it fifteen or sixteen beads were found, about two inches in diameter, and the thickness of the stem of a large tobacco-pipe: one was of amber, the rest of glass; some black and.

* Pilkington's View of Derbyshire, Vol. II. page 426.

white, others of different colours. These he imagines to have been amulets, used by the Druids. There are some remains of antiquity near the village of Edale, supposed to be druidical.

This gentleman has also mentioned a pile of unhewn masses of stone, called a Druid's altar, which stood in a rough heathy pasture, named Nether Moor, on the summit of a hill, but was destroyed some years ago for the sake of the stone. “ The altar was circular, about sixty-six feet in diameter, composed of rough stone of various sizes, rudely piled together, without mortar or cement, in the form of a haycock, about eighteen feet perpendicular height. The top was hollow, in the form of a bason, about four feet deep and six feet in diameter: the stone on the inside of this bason was black, and much burned, as if large fires had been often made in it.” Mr. Pilkington has observed on this passage, that heaps of stone, of a similar appearance, are too common in this part of the country to be supposed druidical altars; and that, on Stanwich Top, there are at least three of this kind.

On STANTON Moor, a rocky, uncultivated waste, about two miles in length and one and a half broad, are numerous remains of antiquity, as rocking stones, barrows, rock basons, circles of erect stones, &c. which have generally been supposed of druidical origin; and perhaps with truth, as to the principal mass, though certainly erroneous with respect to the entire detail.

At the south end of the moor, close to the village of Birchover, is a remarkable assemblage of gritstone rocks, which extends in length between seventy and eighty yards, and rises to the height of about forty or fifty. This massive pile is distinguished by the name of the Router or Roo-tor rocks; an appellation that appears to have been derived from the various rocking stones near the

[graphic]

summit; as it is a common expression in the provincial dialect, that a thing roos backward and forward.* Its general position is undoubtedly natural, and was probably occasioned by the sinking of the surrounding strata ; but the forms and arrangement of many stones on the upper part, display evident traces of design.

Near the east end is a vast block of an irregular shape, and estimated to weigh about fifty tons, which several writers have noticed as a rocking stone, that could be shook by the pressure of the hand; yet it is now immoveable, through having been forced from its equilibrium by the mischievous efforts of fourteen young men, who assembled for the purpose on Whit-Sunday, in the year 1799. Its height is about ten feet, and its circumference in the widest part nearly thirty: its bottom has somewhat of a convex form; and the rock on which it stands appears to have been hollowed to receive it. At a little distance northward is a second rocking stone, not very dissimilar in shape to an egg, which may be moved by the strength of a single finger, though twelve feet in length and fourteen in girth. More directly north is another rocking stone, resembling the latter both in figure and facility of motion; and at the west end are seven stones piled on each other, various in size and form, but two or three very large; all which may be shook by the pressure of one hand, and this at various places.

Archæologia, Vol. VI. page 110.

It should be observed, that the huge masses which occupy the summit of the Router rocks, range from east to west along the middle of the hill, and have had a narrow passage and two chambers or caves cut within them. The largest cave has a remarkable sound, and has thence been named the Echo; its length is sixteen feet, its width twelve, and its height about nine. The origin of these excavations cannot have been very remote, as the marks of the pick on the sides are very visible and fresh. They were probably formed about the same period as an elbow chair near the west end on the north side, which has been rudely shaped on the face of a large mass of stone, and has a seat for one person on each side of it. This, we have been informed, was executed by the direction of Mr. Thomas Eyre, who inhabited the ancient manor-house, called Router hall, near the foot of the hill on the south, between seventy and eighty years ago, and used frequently to entertain company on this elevated spot. A hollow, in the stone which forms the highest point of these rocks, Mr. Rooke supposes to have been a rock bason; he also mentions a second rock bason on the north-west side.

Nearly a quarter of a mile west of Router is another assemblage of large rocks, forming a similar kind of hill, called Bradley Tor; on the upper part of which is a rocking stone thirty-two feet in circumference, of an orbicular shape, and raised above the ground by two stones, having a passage between them. Its conformity to the description of the Tolmên given by Dr. Borlase in his Antiquities of Cornwall, has induced an opinion of its having been a rock idol.

Near the south-west side of Stanton Moor is an elevated ridge, which rises into three craggy eminences, respectively named, Carclif' rocks, Graned Tor and Durwood Tor. On the top of the former are several rock basons, varying in diameter from two to three feet; and near the bottom, towards the west, is a small cave, called the Hermitage, at the east end of which is a rude figure of a crucifix, between three and four feet high, sculptured in high relief on the solid rock. In the inner part is a seat, and a recess, apparently intended for a sleeping place.

Graned Tor, called also Robin Hood's Stride and Mock Beggar's Hall, is a singular heap of rocks, which Mr. Rooke supposes to have been anciently a "curious group of druidical monuments."*

[graphic]

On one rock, that seems, from its present position, to have fallen from the top, and is twenty-nine feet in circumference, are four rock basins; and at the bottom of another, a rock basin of an oval form, four feet in length and two feet ten inches wide, which “evidently appears to have been cut with a tool.”+ This basin is sheltered by a massive stone, placed in a sloping direction against the rock. The uppermost points of this Tor are two vast stones, standing upright, each eighteen feet high and about twenty-two yards asunder, which at a distance resemble the chimneys of an ancient mansion-house, froin which circumstance the pile obtained its appellation of Mock Beggar's Hall. Round the bottom of the hill there seems to have been a fence of broken masses of stone. On the top of Durwood Tor are three rock basins, artificially formed; and an impending crag or rock canopy, which overhangs what has been denominated an “augurial seat.” At Durwood, on removing a large stone, an urn was discovered half full of burnt bones; and near it two ancient Ruerns or hand-mill stones, flat at top and somewhat convex on the under sides, about four inches and a half thick and nearly a foot in diameter; the

upper stone is so much less than the under, that, being placed on it, it could be turned round within its rim. Similar stones have been found in Yorkshire and Wiltshire, and such kind are yet in common use in the Hebrides.

In a field north of Graned Tor, called Nine-stone close, are the remains of a Druidical Circle, about thirteen yards in diameter, now consisting of seven rude stones of various dimensions; one of them is about eight feet in height and nine in circumference. Between seventy and eighty yards to the south are two other stones, of similar dimensions, standing erect.

About a quarter of a mile west of the little valley which separates Hartle Moor from Stanton Moor, is an ancient work, called Castle Ring, which Mr. Rooke supposes to have been a British encampment. Its form is elliptical ; its shortest diameter, from south-east to north-west is one hundred and sixty-five feet; its length, from north-east to south-west is two hundred and fortythree feet. It was encompassed by a deep ditch and double vallum, but part of the latter has been levelled by the plough.

In a small enclosure, adjoining the north-west end of Stanton Moor, are some remarkably situate rocks; on two of which the following inscriptions were cut in Roman capitals about one hundred and seventy years ago, by an ancestor of the Callon family, who possessed the estate. rustica quæ sine dubitatione proxima et quasi consanguinea sapientiæ est, tam discentibus eget quam magistris."-"Nihil est homini libero dignius, et quod mihi ad sapientis vitam proxime videlur accedere.

About half a mile north-east from the Router rocks, on Stanton Moor, is a druidical circle, eleven yards in diameter, called The Nine Ladies, composed of the same number of rude stones,

« Res

[graphic]

from three to four feet in height, and of different breadths. A single stone named the King, stands at the distance of thirty-four yards. Near this circle are several cairns and barrows, most of which have been opened, and various remains of ancient customs discovered in them. In one of

* Archæologia, Vol. XII. page 47.

+ Ibid.

Gough's Additions to the Britannia.

« ZurückWeiter »