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It is for this reason that I venture to give publicity to the discoveries I have been making in two of these betev ae tut guitwal, in the hope that they may find a fitting place in the pages of a Society whose aim is to preserve the few relics left to us of the manners and customs of our Keltic ancestors.
MORVAH HILL BARROW.
In the summer of 1863 my attention was directed to a line of three barrows, lying in a direction north-east and south-west, on the top of Morvah Hill, or Trevean, about four miles and a half north of the town of Penzance. On a closer examination, the north-easternmost one proved to have been torn to pieces some years before by a party of surveyors, who pitched their tent in the middle of the mound for greater security against the wind. In doing this, I was informed, several pieces of coarse pottery were found ;'no doubt the fragments of
Leaving this barrow in despair, I proceeded to examine the next one, which lay at about thirty yards distance. This appeared to be a heap of stones piled up against the face of a high carn of natural rocks. After making several fruitless attempts to find the place of interment here, I finally left it for the third and last barrow. This lay at a distance of about two hundred yards from the others, on the south-western brow of the
It proved to be a pile of stones and rubble raised on a base of natural rock, and enclosed by a ring of twenty stones set on edge, and fitted together with more than ordinary care and precision. The diameter of the barrow, which is nearly a perfect circle, is twenty-nine feet. Unlike the circles surrounding other barrows in the neighbourhood, this one was originally constructed of several layers of stones fitted together, one over the other, without mortar, and perhaps once forming a cone over the entire tumulus. Three stones fitted together in this manner may still be seen on the western side. On the northern side, as may be seen by the accompa
3RD SEN., VOL. XV.
nying plan, lies a large natural rock (A), at present uncovered. At the eastern extremity of this is a small circular basin, four or five inches deep, which from the appearance of the granite I am more inclined to attribute to artificial than to natural causes; and which, though it requires some assurance to do so, I venture to term an artificial rock-basin. The rock in which this is was resting, as we afterwards found, at each end on the natural soil, from which it had never been moved, although a pit had been dug in the centre, immediately underneath it.
Sinking a shaft in the centre of the barrow, at the depth of about eight feet, the workmen came to two natural granite rocks, one resting on the other, and sloping downward towards its eastern end (as see the plan). This rock is about four feet square; and when found was covered with a black, slimy substance, which being removed, a small cavity was observed in the upper end of the stone, from which a narrow trench or gully could be traced down the surface. Following this
trench, and having cleared away the earth and rubble from the middle of the barrow, we soon came to a flat stone about three feet square. Although every precaution was taken in opening this barrow, the miner in raising this stone, finding it very heavy, and in order to get a better purchase for his hands, suddenly stepped into the pit below. There was a crack; his foot sank about six inches; and I had the mortification of seeing the hundred fragments of the most richly ornamented urn which Cornwall has ever produced. Into such small pieces was it broken, that only two of them all could be joined together; and from these the accompanying drawing is made. The diameter at the base is five inches, from which the vessel expands as it rises until the greatest diameter is nine. The original height cannot be ascertained. As will be seen, it is ornamented by a chevron pattern of leaf-shaped indentations made while the clay was wet, by some pointed instrument. Above this appears to have been another pottery of the same kind, and below it are two irregular lines of circular dots. These dots were all made by the same instrument, and at first sight would seem to contain some minute device resembling a bird with wings expanded ; but whether this is really the case, or whether it is only an accident of the potter's tool, I will not venture to say. A corresponding line of dots is to be found inside the urn, near the mouth. Besides these ornaments there were four embossed handles; but a portion of one only remains. The urn itself is better baked, and shews more potter's skill than any I have seen; and the bones with which it was filled were so thoroughly burnt, that they adhered, like a white cement, to the sides of the vessel. The “ kist-vean” containing the urn was about eighteen inches in depth. The bottom of it was formed of the hard natural clay of the country, and the sides were constructed of granite stones set on edge. The breakage of the urn was, however, in some degree compensated for by the discovery among the earth in the kist-vean of eight or nine small Roman coins. These