Rolleston’s Barrow, Rushmore, Tollard Royal, Wiltshire

Tumulus:  OS Grid Reference – ST 95552 18233

Archaeology & History

Plan of Rollestons Barrow, 1880

In what today seems a barely visible tumulus, amidst the large cluster that could once be found upon the large estate grounds of Rushmore House, were once the overgrown ruins of an old tumulus.  It seems to have been rediscovered in the 19th century, when the legendary antiquarian, General Pitt-Rivers, moved onto the huge estate.  It was all but hidden even in his day, he told, but being “of such slight elevation that, like many others, it had never been noticed.”  It was the first of all the barrows they excavated on his Estate, and is to be found “near the house on the south side of the lower south coach road.”

So, in 1880, he got some of the estate lads to help him and Rolleston start a dig into the old tomb – and they weren’t to be disappointed.  It wasn’t anything special, but it was the first amongst many hereby.  In Pitt-River’s (1888) massive tome on the prehistory of the region, he told us:

“This was the first barrow opened at Rushmore, on the 10th August, 1880. Professor Rolleston and the Rev. H. Winwood were present at the opening. The elevation was so slight that it had hitherto escaped notice.  In the centre, 1 foot 6 inches beneath the crest, a layer of charcoal and ashes, 9 feet by 6 feet, was found containing a burnt body.  The body appears to have been burnt on the spot, and not gathered up after cremation, but a mound raised over the funereal pile.  A few fragments of bronze, probably the remains of some implement which had corroded or been burnt, were found in the ashes, and in the body of the barrow two flint scrapers, a well-formed flint borer, and a boat-shaped flint…were found (see illustration above, PB).  A few scattered fragments of pottery found in the barrow were of a superior and harder baked quality than is usual in barrows.  No trace of a ditch was found around the barrow, but towards the north of the centre, a depression—EE on plan—which might, or might not, have been a grave, but filled with mould and without remains, was discovered.  The barrow is undoubtedly of the Bronze Age, and is interesting on account of it being the last at the opening of which Professor Rolleston assisted shortly before his death.”

As a result of this, he decided to name to barrow after his old friend and also planted a beech tree on top of the barrow in remembrance of him.

References:

  1. Pitt-Rivers, A.H.L.F., Excavations in Cranborne Chase, near Rushmore – volume 2, Harrison & Sons: London 1888.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

loading map - please wait...

  50.963501, -2.064711 Rolleston\'s Barrow

Old Pleck Barrow, Rushmore, Tollard Royal, Wiltshire

Tumulus (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference — ST 95459 17548

Old Pleck on 1889 OS-map

Archaeology & History

This long-lost burial mound was one in a large group of prehistoric tombs that were explored in the 19th century by the legendary antiquarian, General Pitt-Rivers. It had already been destroyed before the General came to live on his Rushmore estate in southern Wiltshire, but thankfully, his diligence as an inquirer prevailed and he was able to recover at least something of the old site.  Shown on the 1889 OS-map of the area (despite already having been destroyed), in Pitt-River’s (1888) extensive writings he told how, in the scattered woodlands hereby, was

Pitt-Rivers 1888 site-map
Old Pleck Barrow urn

a collection of large barrows near the South Lodge.  They were covered with a thick grove of hazel and other underwood.  One of the barrows—marked by a dotted circle (see sketch-map, left, PB)—had been destroyed before my arrival at Rushmore in 1880.  The earth of the barrow had been removed and a good urn found in it, which had been broken and scattered, but I was fortunate enough to recover one of the fragments which had been preserved by the estate carpenter.

From a sketch that was made of the urn remnant, Pitt-Rivers told how “the character of its ornamentation” resembled that on another urn found in one of the nearby tumuli.

References:

  1. Pitt-Rivers, A.H.L.F., Excavations in Cranborne Chase, near Rushmore – volume 2, Harrison & Sons: London 1888.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian 

 

loading map - please wait...

  50.957341, -2.066026 Old Pleck Barrow