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Tyne and Wear HER(114): Houghton-le-Spring, Copt Hill, Neolithic cremations - Details

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Houghton-le-Spring, Copt Hill, Neolithic cremations



Religious Ritual and Funerary






Excavations of this barrow in 1877 by Dr. Greenwell revealed a Neolithic deposit of cremated bones, perhaps surrounded by boulders, occupying a space 34 feet by 6 feet, with at each end an oblong stone-lined hole filled with charcoal and covered with limestone. The excavator believed that this site was a "flue cremation", but Young, the most recent writer on the subject, suggests that the feature may have been the burnt and collapsed remains of an axial mortuary structure, resembling a low ridge tent, i.e. the two holes may have been large postholes to support a ridge pole. It was not possible to say how many bodies had been placed there, and no artifacts were found associated with them. The burial was situated some 5 feet south of the centre of the mound, and aligned east-west.




<< HER 114 >> C.T. Trechmann,1914, Prehistoric Burials in the County of Durham, Archaeologia Aeliana, 3, XI, pp. 123-30 R. Miket, 1984, The Prehistory of Tyne and Wear, pp. 53, 55 R. Young, 1985, The Copt Hill, Houghton-le-Spring, round cairn: a reassessment, Archaeologia Aeliana, 5, XIII, pp. 7-17 I.A. Kinnes & I.H. Longworth, 1985, Catalogue of the...prehistoric...material in the Greenwell Collection burial 1

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