Cairns: OS Grid Reference – SK 2091 5731
Also Known as:
- Roystone Cairn
You can see the copse of trees here from all directions it seems, and there seem various ways in. Don’t think there’s a direct footpath, but from all accounts the locals are friendly and you can cross the fields from various directions. From either Pikehall to the north, Aldwark to the east, or Brassington from the south, head towards the distinct wooded copse atop of the hill and you’ll get there!
Archaeology & History
Highlighted on the earliest OS-map of the region and described by a number of early northern antiquarians, this superb-looking view in Pete Glastonbury’s photo (right) catches the remains of at least two prehistoric tombs.
In Barry Marsden’s (1977) brief notes of the site he describes,
“Disturbed mound in plantation with exposed limestone cist. Primary cist rifled. Secondary cremation. A second barrow had been raised against the earlier cairn, containing a primary cremation in situ., with a burnt bronze razor, 2 flint knives and a bone tool.”
Barnatt & Collis (1986) give more detailed descriptions of the respective tombs. The first is categorized as a passage grave chambered cairn:
“This large but mutilated barrow measures c.45 x 38m and in parts is over 2m high. It had been much robbed for stone before the site was first recorded in the late 18th century. The ruined remains of four chambers can be seen. In 1843 Bateman located a fifth partially-collapsed chamber passage, now lost somewhere within the mound. Rooke recorded a further one of two structures to the north and possibly west sides of the mound (Douglas 1793), that had gone or been reburied in Bateman’s day. Small excavations by Marsden in 1973-4 clarified the design of the four visible chambers. Each originally had tall portals, back stone, side slabs, low septal slabs and short entrance passages. Drystone walling had been used to fill gaps between orthostats and in places to increase the heights of the sides.”
Although human remains were found here, the authors tell how the site was initially plundered as far back as the Romano-British period. It had once been a long cairn, aligned ENE-WSW, but they give no notice of any potential astronomical orientation (does anyone know?).
- Barnatt, John & Collis, John, Barrows in the Peak District, J.R. Collis: Sheffield 1986.
- Bateman, Thomas, Vestiges of the Antiquities of Derbyshire, London 1848.
- Douglas, J., Naenia Britannica, London 1793.
- Marsden, Barry M., The Burial Mounds of Derbyshire, privately printed: Bingley 1977.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian