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Tyne and Wear HER(451): Sunderland, Hasting Hill barrow, inhumations - Details

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Sunderland, Hasting Hill barrow, inhumations



Religious Ritual and Funerary




Bronze Age


A number of inhumation burials are recorded from Hasting Hill barrow: [1] Before his excavation of the barrow in 1911, Trechmann was informed by the tenant, Mr. Thomas Brown of East Herrington, that on 5 October 1827, "a contracted skeleton had been found there having the hair on its head, and that the finders concluded that a murder had been committed.” It is likely that the supposed hair on the head was probably plant roots, and as the contracted position of the skeleton suggests that it was of prehistoric origin. [2] The primary burial of the barrow was about 5 feet south-west of the centre of the mound, and had an E-W long axis. It consisted of the contracted skeleton of a man, c. 50 years old, 5 feet 4.5 inches tall, in a cist. With the burial was a beaker, a flint knife, a bone pin, the tip of an antler, some fish, bird and animal bones, and shells. The cist was constructed of a hole cut 2 feet deep into the natural limestone, and lined with slabs of sandstone and magnesian limestone, to provide a grave 3 feet x 1 foot 10 inches, x 1 foot 9 inches deep. The principal coverstone was a triangular slab of sandstone, 3 feet long, 8 inches thick, and roughly dressed at the edges. The pottery beaker was 144 mm high, rim diam 140 mm, decorated with oblique incisions, and with a line of incised upright chevrons around the base. The flint knife was 2 inches in length, made from a flake of grey translucent flint. The bone pin was 2.5 inches long, made from a mammalian bone ground to a point and slightly curved, but without a head. [3] A large oblong cist internally measuring about 2 feet 9 inches in length and 1 foot 9 inches in breadth was found near the eastern edge of the mound, formed chiefly of slabs of magnesian limestone. Cover-stones had been present, but had been largely removed or destroyed. It contained a crouched inhumation of a man c. 5 feet tall "of considerably advanced age", a decorated Food Vessel in dark red-brown fabric, 15.3 cm high with 12.7 cm rim diameter, and two flints, one behind the skull of the skeleton, the other near its feet. [4] A skeleton, in a shallow oval grave cut out of the natural limestone, was found at the base of the barrow about 6 feet north of the centre of the mound. The contracted skeleton was that of a woman aged c. 60, and 4 feet 8 inches - 5 feet tall. The grave was 4 feet x 3 feet and only a few inches deep. The body had been surrounded by small limestone boulders, and covered with slabs of limestone and sandstone, a quasi cist. No object was found accompanying this burial. [5] A cist measuring 2 feet 2 in x 1 feet 2 inches x 1 foot 1 inch deep was found on the north-east edge of the mound sunk a few inches into the natural limestone. It had been constructed of magnesian limestone and its coverstones were in place. In the cist there was the skeleton of a child, and behind its head a decorated food vessel in light brown fabric, 10 cm high, with 10.8 cm rim diameter and 6.4 cm base diameter. Also present were a flint splinter and an ox tooth.




<< HER 451 >> C.T. Trechmann, 1914, Prehistoric Burials in the County of Durham, Archaeologia Aeliana, 3, XI, pp. 135-6 R. Miket, 1984, The Prehistory of Tyne and Wear, p. 68

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