Keighley Train Station, West Yorkshire

Cist:  OS Grid Reference – SE 0656 4131

Archaeology & History

This little known site, long since destroyed during the construction of Keighley Railway Station, was found in a curious spot, close to the bottom of the Aire Valley.  Most (known) prehistoric burials occur on the higher grounds in this area.  And though we don’t appear to have the exact location of the find, it was pretty close to either side of Keighley’s old railway station (which is shown as 100 yards to the other side of the road of the present station on the 1852 OS map).  This may position the site as being on the grounds opposite and below St. Anne’s Church; otherwise it was getting closer to where the River Worth runs by.  In Keighley & Holmes’ early (1858) work they told that,

“Whilst excavating for the Railway within about a hundred yards of the Keighley station, one of the labourers discovered three urns containing a quantity of human bones.  Two of them were unluckily broken, one being large enough to hold eight or nine quarts.  The one brought away whole, and seen by the present writer, may hold about a quart; it is somewhat distastefully designed, moulded by hand out of the common clay, without glaze, and rudely ornamented on the outside by some sharp implement.  The once animated contents of each urn were covered by a square flat stone.”

This final remark seems to indicate the urns were located in a cist (a small stone grave), but we don’t know whether this was found within the remains of a denuded tumulus or stone cairn.  However, considering the lack of any remarks about a large pile of stones (which would have been very noticeable) covering this burial site, it would seem more probable that this site was originally an earth-covered tumulus, whose visibility and knowledge had long since diminished in this part of Airedale.


  1. Keighley, William & Homes, Robert, Keighley, Past and Present, R. Aked: Keighley 1858.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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