Tumulus (destroyed): OS Grid Reference – SD 866 309
Archaeology & History
The grid reference given here is an approximation as we don’t have the exact position of the tomb that could once be seen in the fields immediately south of Cliviger Laithe farm — but it’s a pretty good approximation! Overlooking the once proud cairn of Cliviger Law some 800 yards below to the southeast, Geoffrey Watson (1952) told us the site was “on the summit of the hill…which tailed off near Barcroft Hall,” but this area of the fields have been dug and quarried away in recent years, leaving no trace of the original tumulus that stood here. It also appears that the discovery of the site was quite an accident, Mr Booth (1899) telling us how the urns that were unearthed here were located “while some men were engaged in digging there.” As a result of this, we have little by way of description of the burial mound itself, but thankfully the prehistoric vase which they unearthed was kept intact. Of this artifact Mr Booth told:
“The vase came into the possession of a Mr Roberts…who lived at the old hall near the church at Worsthorne… By the kind permission of Mr Roberts I had an opportunity of making an examination of the interesting object. The urn itself was of a similar character to those already found in our locality* and measured 14 inches in depth, about 8 inches across the mouth, and 36 inches in circumference at its widest part… The vase “bulged” out in the middle, as these cinerary urns invariably do, and from thence it tapered down to a base of about 3 or 4 inches in diameter. It was ornamented at the top by the usual deep collar of about 5 inches in depth, the upper and lower edges of which were ornamented (with) encircling lines… The vase contained a large quantity of calcined human bones. Dr Dean gave as his opinion that there were the remains of two if not three human bodies, one of which was the body of a child… Besides the bones, the vases contained a quantity of charcoal and ashes, and also a very friable bone pin.”
The tomb evidently made a good enough impression on the Lancashire historian J.F. Tattersall as he took to writing a poem about the place! It went:
In this lone cairn upon the mountain head,
On one far morning of the misty past,
The earliest wanderers o’er these moorlands cast
A kinsman’s ashes to their narrow bed.
Now we, by Nature’s kindly guidance led
By marvellous ways, through revolutions vast
Of Time, her latest children, not the last,
Gather again around the ancient dead.
- Bennett, Walter, The History of Burnley – volume 1, Burnley County Council 1946.
- Booth, Thomas, Ancient Grave Mounds on the Slopes of the Pennine Range, R. Chambers: Todmorden 1899.
- Watson, Geoffrey G., Early Man in the Halifax District, Halifax Scientific Society 1952.
* see the Catlow urn for example
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian