Weaver Hills Burials

The largest of the Barrows with a bench in front. Approx 12m diameter and about 2m high. It commands some of the best views in Staffordshire

There are a group of three Bowl barrows on the weaver hills that I wanted to locate and investigate. Bowl barrows are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. These have been left untouched and unexcavated which makes them very rare indeed within Staffordshire. Historic England say for certain that these “will contain undisturbed archaeological deposits.” I’m immensely fascinated by the thought of what could be found underneath one – we could come face to face with a person and their belongings who lived around these parts over 2,000 years before Jesus was born. The mind boggles!

There are some artefacts in the Potteries Museum from these hills so I was keen to explore these Scheduled Monuments for myself.

The first barrow overlooking the town of Ashbourne, 7 miles in the distance. The sheep are having a field day.

The two closest together are located right on the top of the highest points overlooking the east towards Ashbourne and Wootton. The first (with the Sheep on the top) is around 1.5m high with a slight dip in the centre. The second has a fenced off tree on top and is the largest of the barrows standing around 2m tall. It has a spectacular viewing bench in front of it and a curious large, ancient looking stone laid flat. A third has a slightly wider diameter but is not as tall but there is an old, disused concrete surface over the top of it with some very curious objects embedded into the concrete and a locked cover over something. This is perhaps something to do with the war but I would love to know more about it.

Panoramic view with the largest barrow to the left. Alton towers can be seen in the hazy distance.

I wondered in particular about the people buried here, they would have been significantly important people to have had bestowed up on them such important spots designated for their burials. Perhaps they were warriors or religious leaders of their times. As they were being constructed the view over the planes would have not looked dissimilar to what it would have today.

Centre of a Bowl Barrow, overlooking Ellastone and Wootton looking over towards Leicestershire
The barrow with the concrete construction on the top with the large barrow to the left and the highest point marker on the other side of the hills – the construction is a complete curiosity!
Found on the Weaver Hills (and housed in the Potteries Museum), this Stone was decorated with cups and at least one ring probably in the late Neolithic period, around 5,000 years ago. These are symbolic devices of a society that was not literate. The distribution of rock art may indicate an association with ancient trackways and particular viewpoints across the prehistoric landscape. It may have provided ‘messages’ to people passing through the area

Date of visit – 18 January 2020

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