Ashleigh Barrow, Darwen, Lancashire

Tumulus (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SD 696 208

Also Known as:

  1. Whitehall Tumulus
Ashleigh Barrow urns (after John Dixon)

Archaeology & History

Early accounts of this site tell of its destruction in the 19th century, but a modern reconstruction of the site has been made close to where it once stood.  And this tomb sounded quite impressive!  Within the ‘tomb’ were found a large number of urns, one of which was curiously empty.  In John Dixon’s excellent Journeys through Brigantia (2003) work he told that,

“Contemporary reports about its excavation state that it was of circular form about 30 yards in diameter, being formed on a naze or promontory of an undulating plateau overlooking the Darwen valley.  Its height was said to vary between 10 to 12 feet on the east side and between 2 or 3 feet on the west, the centre being about 6 feet in diameter and consisting of a slight hollow.

“Ten interments appear to have been made, one being just a heap of burnt bones, the others, having been enclosed in urns, the majority of which are badly broken, consisted of ashes and fragments of bone together with unrecognizable pieces of bronze.  Two urns also contained ‘incense cups’ and another a 7½-inch bronze knife or dagger.

“The design of the urns is similar to those from the Middle Bronze Age… All but two of the urns were found within an area 21 feet by 14 feet, whilst one was 40 feet away.  They were, with one exception, placed in the Earth with the orifice pointing upwards and were covered with slabs, the depth at which they were found varying from 1 to 2 feet.”

Remains of the urns can be seen on display in the Darwen Library.


Once again in John Dixon’s (2003) fine Journey’s through Brigantia volume, we read of folklore relating to the respect of the dead which local people used to give this old tomb, telling:

“Many superstitions were attached to the barrow and its destruction in the 1860s, with the country people speaking of the place being haunted by ‘boggarts’ and children having been known to take off their clogs or shoes and walk past it barefoot in the night time.”


  1. Dixon, John, Journeys through Brigantia – volume 11: East Lancashire Pennines, Aussteiger Publications: Barnoldswick 2003.

© John Dixon & Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

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2 thoughts on “Ashleigh Barrow, Darwen, Lancashire”

  1. A delightful site page from Mr John Dixon and Mr Paul Bennett, many thanks to both of you. The works of John Dixon never fail to bring sheer enjoyment to one and all, and will continue to do so, I am quite certain.

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