James William Davis.

History of the Yorkshire Geological and Polytechnic Society, 1837-1887. With biographical notices of some of its members online

. (page 29 of 45)
Online LibraryJames William DavisHistory of the Yorkshire Geological and Polytechnic Society, 1837-1887. With biographical notices of some of its members → online text (page 29 of 45)
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These were placed in hollows made in the chalk for their reception,
and were covered by a flat piece of flagstone on one, and a piece of
chalk on the other. From the cut and jagged edges of the leather,
it was probable that it had belonged to some ornamental part of the
dress. The fifth tumulus was similar to those already described.
Several urns are described which have been discovered by Mr. Tindal
and Mr. Cape, also of Bridlington, in the exploration of other mounds ;
and the paper concludes with a description of an attempt, with the
assistance of Lord Londesborough, to open a large mound known as
Willey Houe, about a mile from the village of Wold Newton. A
number of men cut a large trench on one side of the tumulus, but
after three or four days labour, finding that the work was likely to be
of a much more extensive character than was anticipated, the investi-
gation was relinquished.

A tumulus was opened at Thorpe Arch in 1859, a description of
which was given by Mr. F. B. Carroll, of Boston Spa. It is on the


summit of a small hill adjoining the Walton and Wetherby Road,
about eight feet in height, and rather more than two hundred feet in
circumference. The centre of the hill was found to be a large heap
of boulder stones, some of considerable dimensions, all in a rough and
unhewn state. The cairn itself was five feet in height, and twenty-
four feet in diameter. The top of the cairn was in the form of a
basin, in the bottom of which were found a number of charred bones
and small fragments of bronze, somewhat decayed, no doubt the
remains of an ornament or coin. Several pieces of flint were found
of a rude form. Above the cairn about two feet of earth was
deposited, and upon this was piled a heap of stones, leaving a second
basin-like cavity, one foot in depth and three feet in diameter. In
this occurred a second burial, with bones and flint implements. This
was again covered up with earth and a mound of stones. The mounds
were considered to be of early British construction.

At a meeting held at Ripon, in April, 1864, the Rev. J. C.
Atkinson, of Danby-in- Cleveland, recorded the results of some barrow
diggings in that district. The portion of Cleveland investigated con-
sisted of the parishes of Danby, Guisborough, Skelton, and Wester-
dale, an area comprising about 35,000 to 40,000 acres. The district
included in this area constitutes a deep valley, of no great width,
running east and west, from which two smaller valleys branch out ;
the barriers which separate these smaller valleys are narrow, promon-
tory-like ridges with moorland surfaces, and a height of 1,200 or
1,300 feet above sea level. Ancient ramparts and entrenchments are
found on these ridges without exception. The most westerly ridge
is a regularly-formed camp, with very extensive earthworks upon its
extremity, that is, at Crown End, in Westerdale. The other ridges
have similar entrenchments ; the one between Danby and Fryup
Dales has had four separate entrenchments drawn across it. They
were considered to be the defences of Celtic settlements. Together
with these entrenchments are a large number of tumuli, or barrows ;
seventy or eighty large ones had been observed, and some hundreds
of small ones. These are locally termed houes. The larger ones vary
from two or three feet to twelve or fourteen feet in height, and from
thirty to ninety feet in diameter. One large pile is probably 150 to


180 feet across. The smaller houes are twelve to eighteen or twenty
feet by one and a half to two feet in height. The latter appear to be
entirely barren of any remains betokening interment, and are com-
posed of rough stones piled together, often by the side of or above a
large slab that has been a fixture in the soil, probably dropped in
the place where it is now found by some glacial action. In the
larger mounds evidences of burial are found, usually consisting of a
stone cist, in which were placed urns. In addition to the primary
burial, the mounds appear to have been used for others of a later
date, and in one in which the original deposit had been made in the
centre of the mound, nine secondary interments were discovered along
its side. One of the latter contained a large urn twenty-four inches
high by seventeen and a half inches across the mouth, the contained
bones being a mere handful. In a comparatively small cairn, with a
slight covering of earth, at a point some six or seven feet south of
the centre, were found many fragments of urns, accompanied by
portions of calcined bones. These had not been broken by recent
disturbance, and on continuing the excavation it was clear that
repeated burials had been made in this cairn, and every inch seemed
to afford some evidence of its repeated disturbance. At the base a
small stone covered an urn which appeared to indicate the primary
burial, but around it were the ashes of more recent burials. The urn
contained besides calcined bones a small barrow-shaped vase, placed
bottom upwards, with one of its sides closing the mouth of an incense
cup laid sideways. Mr. Atkinson considered that the urn last-
mentioned must have been that of a conquering intruder who had
been buried in the tumulus erected to some previous chieftain, which
would probably account for the fragmentary character of the broken
urns. In another hone two urns were found, in one of which was a
beautifully wrought war-hammer of fine-grained polished granite, and
a rudely-formed incense cup inverted and empty, portions of four
bone pins, and some other bone ornaments. No traces of metal
implements or ornaments of any kind were found, but stone or flint
implements usually accompanied the interment, and the burnt con-
dition of the bones appeared to indicate that in each instance the
body had been cremated before burial. In some instances the


urns exhibited a clumsiness of manufacture, together with consider-
able thickness, and a more obviously rude appearance than any of the
others ; and these were in every instance found in the centre of the
houe, and indicated the first interment. Mr. Atkinson concluded that
the most recent interment met with in this portion of Cleveland
dates back more than twenty-five centuries, whilst with respect to
the earliest they appear to indicate an era so remote that a century
or two more or less makes no practical difference.

At a succeeding meeting the same year, the description of some
barrows near Bridlington was given by Mr. Edward Tindall. Five of
them had been opened in the neighbourhood, and previously des-
cribed by Mr. Wright. In October, 1857, in conjunction with
Captain Collision, Mr. Tindall commenced his investigations. The
tumulus opened occupied an elevated position between Bridlington
and Buckton. It is about 100 j^ards in circumference and 9 feet in
height. On approaching the centre of the tumulus by means of a
trench, a quantity of flint chippings were discovered, amongst which
occurred one or two examples of arrow heads. In the centre of the
tumulus was a human skeleton. Between the jaws of the skull was
found a leaf-shaped arrow head, which appeared to have entered the
back of the head and passed forward to the mouth. The skeleton
was laid on its back in a trench dug in the chalk, 2 feet wide, 18
inches deep, and 5i feet in length. On the surface of the chalk
surrounding this trench were twelve circular holes, about 9 inches in
diameter and 12 inches deep, in which were deposited calcined bones
and particles of charcoal. The purpose of this peculiar feature could
not be conjectured, they may have either served to have received the
ashes of sacrifices at the death of the occupant of the central cist,
or may have been food offerings. An urn was found near the skeleton,
it was broken, but had contained ashes and a small quantity of burned
earth. Mr. Tindal states that the flint implements found in tumuli
invariably seemed to indicate more modern and elaborate workman-
ship than those discovered in the soil overlying chalk, apart from
interments. On the conclusion of the paper, the Rev. W. C. Lucas
stated that though he had had considerable experience in the investi-
gation of tumuli, he did not remember any instance in which circular
holes around the trench had been found.


Mr. Henry Denny, at a meeting at Leeds in August, 1866, read
an important paper on early British tumuli on the Hambleton Hills,
near Thirsk. In this paper, the area embraced the region occupied by
the moors of Boltby, Eskwith, Hawnby and Kepwick Moors, and South-
woods ; the numerous tumuli on which had been examined by the Rev.
W. Greenwell, of Durham ; Mr. Craster, of Middlesbro' ; Mr. Verity,
of Southwood ; and Mr. Murray, of Daleside. Accompanied by Mr.
Fox and Mr. Abraham Horsfall, of Leeds, Mr. Denny had spent some
days prosecuting with great zeal the laborious task of grave-digging,
with the result that they opened some tumuli, which the author then
proceeded to describe. One skeleton which was discovered, that of a
female, had round the neck a necklace consisting of about 120 variously-
shaped beads of jet and Kimmeridge coal, similar to a necklace found
by Mr. Greenwell in Northumberland, the beads of which were also
of jet and shale. Several fragments of pottery were found which had
apparently been drinking vessels, and urns mixed with bones and
chippings of flints. A second tumulus opened near the preceding
one, contained, besides the skeleton, a portion of the brow antler of
a red deer. No pottery or personal ornaments were found. The
body was laid on the surface of the ground, the stones being heaped
above it covered with soil. In the village of Hawnby there are
numerous indications of tumuli. The locality forms a spur running
out from the western side of the Hambleton Hills overhanging the
village. It is crossed by an ancient dyke, and on the west side there
is a group of tumuli, one large one in the centre, and eight or nine
small ones surrounding it. These have been examined by Mr. Murray
and Mr. Verity. The larger tumulus was 120 feet in circumference,
and 4 feet in height. It contained the skeleton of a young female,
evidently of high rank, from the various decorative articles and
personal ornaments which accompanied it. At the head was a bowl
of thin bronze, with three handles about 11 inches in diameter. It
had a wooden cover, with bronze straps arranged in a diamond pattern
across it. The young lady's waist had been encircled by a leathern
girdle, of which the buckle or clasp was made of two pleats of gold,
one of which, set with four garnet-coloured glass ornaments, still
remained ; they had been rivettecl to the leather with gold rivets.


Near the head were two pins, one of gold, 2 inches in length, with a
flat, pear-shaped head ; the other silver, of larger size, with two
holes perforated through the upper part, probably by a bodkin.
There were several rings of silver wire, the ends twisted together ;
blue glass beads ; a portion of a knife ; and several much-corroded
fragments of iron, a small circular hole perforated in the centre,
probably a whorl of a spindle ; and an oblong bronze ornament of
unknown use. The bones of the body were much decayed. A singular
custom was indicated by the cutting edge of the front teeth being
filed into three points, a peculiarity which may have denoted the
rank or tribe to which the deceased belonged. Mr. Denny remarks
that Dr. Barnard Davis records in Crania Britannica, the possession
of an Ashantee skull, the upper front teeth of which had been
chipped to points. This remarkable circumstance shows that a simi-
larity of custom has prevailed between two tribes so widely separated
by time and locality as this native of Western Africa of the present
day and the young lady of Anglo-Saxon birth, probably interred in
the fourth or fifth century of our era, the only difference being that
in one the upper front teeth are filed, and in the other the lower.

Of the eight smaller tumuli only two or three contained the
remains of interments. In one of them, near the thorax of the body,
was found a small circular bronze box, attached to which was a
bronze chain, a ring-shaped fibulae, and a small iron knife. These
objects are now in the Leeds Museum. Another tumulus contained
a spear head of bronze ten inches long. On the Hambleton training
ground are two flat tumuli, one of which is Cleave Dyke. They had
been opened by Mr. Greenwell and others, and some particulars were
given with respect to their contents. Cleave Dyke entrenchment
exhibits a peculiarity of construction. It consists of parallel entrench-
ments, between which is extended a raised portion at about every
three yards. It is somewhat difficult to conceive what can have been
the purpose of these divisions ; it is surmised that they may either
have been used as sunk pits or earthworks in warfare so as to com-
mand a better position, or they may have been covered with wattle
boughs and formed the rudimentary huts of this ancient British people.
The whole district appears to have been very thickly populated.


In December, 1859, a meeting was held at Sheffield, at which
Mr. Denny contributed a paper on the geological and archseological
contents of the Victoria and Dowkabottom Caves in Craven. To the
eastward of Settle, and also near Arncliife, caves have long been
known in the mountain limestone. Hitherto they had been regarded
as subterraneous wonders, and had received little or no considera-
tion as the abodes of man and other animals. In August of this
year Mr. Denny, accompanied by Mr. O'Callaghan, visited Mr.
Jackson, of Settle, who had recently discovered a cave at King's Scar,
a mile and a half from Settle, at an elevation of 1,460 feet above sea
level. Mr. Jackson had already obtained from the cave ornaments,
coins, pottery, and mammalian remains, which were inspected at his
house. The cave had probably three entrances, two of which were
then partialty closed by the debris of the superincumbent precipitous
rock. The descent into the cave was rather difficult. Entering by
a steep fissure it was necessary to crawl through a low and narrow
passage into a cave, in which the visitor could scarcely stand upright ;
then through a second contracted aperture into a lofty cavern. The
floor was covered with stalagmite and clay, and strewn over with
blocks of limestone which had fallen from the roof. From this cavern
a third and nearly closed passage afforded an entrance to another large
compartment. Besides these caves were lateral fissures, whose termi-
nations were unknown. The floor of the cave consisted first of loose
stones and loamy soil, beneath which were charcoal ashes mixed
with bones, antiquarian relics, and earth ; below was clay, stalagmite
and rock. In some parts the stalagmite rose to the surface, and
immediately beneath was clay, with bones and relics. In other parts
the loamy clay with charcoal ashes, containing bones, pottery, and
other ancient remains, rested upon a solid limestone floor.

The Dowkabottom Caves, near Arncliife, are situated on a lofty
plateau of the rocky crags of the Kilnsey Range, 1,250 feet above the
sea, from which a descent is made into a lofty chamber from whose
roof hang large masses of stalactite. Turning by a narrow passage to
the left, a large, lofty cave is entered, a considerable portion of the
floor of which is covered with stalagmite, owing to the constant flow
of a rapid stream of water through it from the extreme end of a


narrow gallery of considerable extent. "Whitaker, in his " History of
Craven/' thus describes the scenery in which Dowkabottom Cave is
located : " Dowkabottom Hole is about two miles north from Kiln-
sey Crag, high up in the hills, and surrounded by cliffs of limestone.
The entrance is an oblong chasm in the surface, overhung with ivy
and fern ; at the south end is a narrow but lofty opening into a
cavern of no great extent. The view downward from the north is
tremendous. On this side it is very lofty, and extends to a con-
siderable distance. The rocks at the top, and particularly near the
entrance, hang down in the most picturesque shapes, and both these
and the sides are covered with petrified moss, richly tinted."
In the first chamber of the Dowkabottom Cave some very large
stones occupied the surface ; on the removal of these was found a
layer of charcoal ashes nearly 2 feet in thickness, amongst which
was a fragment of a bronze fibulae. Mr. Hodgson, who excavated
this spot along with Mr. Farrer, of Ingleborough House, discovered
the remains of three human skeletons laid in the bed of clay about
a foot deep. Underneath the clay was a layer of soft stalagmite,
and at the base of this several skulls and bones of the wolf and goat,
and the horns of a deer were found. On the first examination of
these different caves by Mr. Jackson, the bones and teeth of animals
were found, with relics of human art scattered indiscriminately over
the floor, or just below the surface in the charcoal ashes previously
alluded to, and the first specimens obtained, consisting of various
articles of British and Roman art, coins, bones and teeth of the tiger,
hyaena, bear, and wild boar, (the latter identified by Dr. Buckland),
were deposited in the British Museum, and a description was read
before the Society of Antiquaries of London, by Mr. C. R. Smith.
The number of personal ornaments and implements of various kinds
indicated that the several caves were for a considerable period the
abode of human beings. The investigations of Mr. Jackson had
resulted in the accumulation of a considerable number of these
objects. He found about 24 fibulae of bronze, and five of iron, of
various sizes and appearances, many in fine preservation and highly
ornamented, some apparently plated with silver. Two bronze armlets
and four fragments of others, two rings, and bronze articles like studs,


one long comb, (probably used for the back of the head), and frag-
ments of another. Portions of what appear to have been small-tooth
combs made of bone had been found. Six bronze pins, (one of them
with a flat head the size of a shilling, and plated), bone needles,
bone spoons, with the handles rudely carved, and the bowls with a
hole in the centre ; remains of knives, a key, bone arrow heads and
other implements, and the head of an adze made of trap ; the canine
teeth probably of the wolf, perforated for ornament ; fragments of
glass, mostly for ornament ; and pottery of the ordinary Roman red
or Saurian ware ; and some flint and stone implements, together with
Roman coins of the date of Trajan and Constantino, were embraced
in Mr. Jackson's collection. In the exploration of the Dowkabottom
Cave already alluded to, in addition to the bones mentioned, were
jaws and skulls of the short-horned ox, the sheep, and the goat, bones
of the horse, skulls and jaws of the wild boar, the horns of the red
deer, and pottery of Roman character, and other remains of man.
It was well known that Yorkshire was inhabited at remote periods by
the hyaena, bear, tiger, and wolf ; that such animals reside in caves,
and their bones were frequently found in a fossil state in the caves
in other parts of the country ; and it was probable that the carnivorous
species inhabited the caves and carried the remains of other animals
into them for food. This conjecture was rendered probable from the
fact that when the caves were first discovered the skulls and bones
of various animals were strewn over the floors in considerable num-
bers, but as they were not considered of value in comparison with
the relics of human art they were neglected, broken, and destroyed.
The animals identified by Mr. Denny, occurring in the Victoria Cave,
were the cave tiger, the bear, (Ursus arctos), the badger, hysena, fox,
wild boar, hare, water-rat, short- horned ox, and the horse ; whilst
from the Dowkabottom Cave were obtained the wolf, the wild dog,
ox, wild boar, water-rat, red deer, sheep, goat, short-horned ox, and
the horse. The facies of the two sets of animal remains appears to
indicate that whilst the Victoria Cave was occupied by hyaenas, and
that they dragged into it the remains of other animals brought there
for food, the Dowkabottom Cave was not a den of hyenas, but appears
to have been the abode of bears and wolves.


In March, 1865, Mr. Farrer, of Ingleborough House, along with
Mr. Denny, contributed the results of further explorations in the
Dowkabottom Cave. The surface of the western chamber was com-
posed of 14 inches of broken stone, earth, and charcoal, in which were
found fragments of pottery, part composed of coarse black earth, and the
other of red Samian pottery. Below was a bed of clay 18 inches thick,
resting on a stratum of soft stalagmite, about 3 feet thick, in which the
bones of several animals were obtained. The soft stalagmite rested
on a bed of hard stalagmite, 8 inches in thickness, upon which lay a
nearly perfect skeleton of a very fine specimen of the gigantic red
deer, with antlers of great beauty. An excavation was made to the
depth of 6 feet, passing through clay mixed with stones and gravel ;
and a boring rod was inserted for a further distance of 6 feet through
soft clay, without reaching any bottom. The chamber eastwards
from the opening was also examined, and beneath 18 inches of clay
the hard stalagmite was dug through down to the rock, 4 yards and
a half in thickness. A flint implement was found, along with horns
of the red deer, and a portion of the left antler of the gigantic Irish
elk (Megaceros Hibernicus), which forms the second instance of
the remains occurring in Yorkshire. Shortly before the reading of
the paper, whilst exploring the west chamber, about 4 yards from the
spot where the skeleton of the red deer was discovered, a slight
hollow or grave was disclosed, which had been dug in the hard stalag-
mite, measuring 1 foot long, 8 inches wide, and H inches in depth,
in which were the remains of a skeleton of a child probably 2 years
of age. The bones were in a very imperfect and fragile condition,
and were embedded in the superimposed soft stalagmite. The whole
of the bones and other objects obtained during these excavations are
stated to have been presented to the Museum of the Leeds Philo-
sophical Society by Mr. Farrer. The two chambers extend conjointly
390 feet in length, and as the entrance to another fresh cave had
been discovered, additional and important results might be expected,
it being Mr. Farrer's intention to make a further examination of the
new cave.

At a meeting held at Leeds in May, 1861, the Rev. John Ken-
rick, F.S.A., of York, contributed a paper on the Rev. Mr. M'Enery's


researches in the bone cave of Kent's Hole, near Torquay, and their
relation to the archaeology and palaeontology of Britain. The scene
of these researches is somewhat remote from Yorkshire, but the value
of the discoveries had a considerable influence on the cave work
throughout the whole country, and for this reason it may not be
inappropriate to give a short account of the cave. The mountain
limestone of South Devon, like that of Yorkshire, is full of ancient
water-courses and caves. Kent's Cavern, one of these, is about a
mile and a half eastward from Torquay. Like similar caves its floor
was more or less covered with stalagmite, and it had been of general
interest for centuries before the scientific interest of its contents was
discovered. Mr. Northmore, in 1824, was the first to make an
investigation of the cave. He had embraced what was called the
helioarkite origin of mythology, a religion consisting of the worship
of the sun, combined with the deification of Noah as the symbol of
the deluge, Mr. Northmore had a belief that this worship had been
widely different over the ancient world, and had its share in pro-
ducing Druidism ; its rites were celebrated in caverns, and Mr.
Northmore was convinced that he should find in Kent's Hole evi-
dence of the performance of helioarkite and mithraic worship. In
the course of his exploration he found a tusk of a hyaena, bones of
bears, and others. Mr. Northinore's researches were followed by those
of Mr. Trevelyan, who obtained a large number of specimens of the
teeth of rhinoceros and other animals, which he took up to London,
and submitted to the inspection of Dr. Buckland. At this point
Mr. M'Enery took up the investigation and carried it on for several

Online LibraryJames William DavisHistory of the Yorkshire Geological and Polytechnic Society, 1837-1887. With biographical notices of some of its members → online text (page 29 of 45)