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Celtic period are found in good condition, and in some instances perfect and sound, those of the Anglo-Saxons have, almost invariably, entirely disappeared. Thus in a Celtic barrow the primary interment of that period may be found in perfect condition, while the secondary interment, thatof the Anglo-Saxon, although some centuries later in date, and some three or four feet nearer the surface, will have decayed away and completely disappeared. Thus, in a barrow at Wyaston which had been raised over the body of a Saxon lady every indication of the body had disappeared with the exception of the enamel coating of the teeth, while a splendid necklace of beads, a silver ring, silver earrings, and a silver brooch or fibula, remained in situ where the flesh and bones had once been. Another instance (to which I shall have occasion again to allude) which may be named was the barrow at Benty Grange-a mound not more than two feet in elevation, but of considerable dimensions, and surrounded by a small fosse or trench, raised over the remains of a Saxon of high rank. In this mound, although a curious and unique helmet, the silver mountings of a leather drinking cup, some highly interesting and beautiful enamelled ornaments, and other objects, as well as indications of the garments, remained, not a vestige of the body, with the exception of some of the hair, was to be seen. The lovely and delicate form of the female and the form of the stalwart warrior or noble had alike returned to their parent earth, leaving no trace behind, save the enamels of her teeth and traces of his hair alone, while the ornaments they wore and took pride in, and the surroundings of their stations remained to tell their tale at this distant date. In a barrow at Tissington in which the primary (Celtic) interment was perfect, the later Saxon one had entirely disappeared, while the sword and umbone of the shield remained as they had been placed.
The mode of interment with the funeral fire, as well as the raising of the barrow, is curiously illustrated by the opening of two Saxon graves at Winster. A large wood fire had, apparently, been made upon the natural surface of the ground. In this a part of the stones to be used for covering the body, and some of the weapons of the deceased, were burned. After the fire was exhausted the body was laid on the spot where it had been kindled, the spear, sword, or what not, placed about it, and the stones which had been burnt piled over it. The soil was then heaped up to the required height.
The instances I have given and most others which have been examined) of interment of the entire body, have occurred in the district of the Peak. In the lowlands of the county the interments appear mostly to have been by cremation, and here somewhat extensive cemeteries-either as groups of small low barrows containing interments of burnt bones-or otherwise,
have been found. In some of these the body has simply been burned, the calcined bones gathered into a small heap and then the mound raised over them. In others, and more usually, the calcined bones have been carefully collected together, piaced in cinerary urns, and buried.
Two of the most extensive and remarkable cemeteries of this kind are those at Kingston and at King's Newton, both near Derby.* At the first of these places an extensive cemetery was discovered in 1844, and resulted in the exhumation of a large number of urns; indeed, so large a number, that, unfortunately, at least two hundred were totally destroyed by the workmen before the fact of the discovery became known. On the surface no indication of burials existed, but as the ground had some sixty years before been under plough cultivation, and as the mounds would originally have been very low, this is not remarkable. The urns had been placed on the ground in shallow pits or trenches. They were filled with burnt bones, and the mouth of each had been covered with a flat stone. They were, when found, close to the surface, so that the mounds could only have been slightly elevated when first formed. Of the form of the urns I shall have to speak later on.
The cemetery at King's Newton, though not so large as the one just named, was an extensive one. It was discovered during the present autumn (1867), and a large number of fragmentary urns were exhumed. The mode of interment was precisely similar to that at Kingston, and the urns were of the same character as those there discovered.
There were no traces of mounds having been raised, although most probably, they had originally existed.
Cremation was the predominating practice among the Angles, including Mercia, and the modes of burning the body, and of interment of the calcined bones in ornamental urns, which I have described, in the two cemeteries just spoken of, are characteristic of that kingdom. This mode is curiously illustrated in the Anglo-Saxon poem of “Beowulf,” which evidently describes the custom of the Angles. The following extract forcibly illustrates the mode of interment. The funeral pile having been raised, and hung round with shields, helmets, and coats of mail,
. the heroes, weeping,
their dear lord. It is a singular fact, and worthy of note, that the two most extensive Saron cemeteries—indeed, the only two worthy the name of cemeteries—discovered in Derbyshire, are at Kingston (King's Town) and at King's Newton (King's New Town), and that at each the urns are of remarkably fine character.
Then began on the hill
mingled with weeping." The body having been burned, and the ashes collected together, the warriors and friends of the deceased raised a mound over the remains "high and broad;"
" and they built up
during ten days
With interments in urns, but few articles, either of personal ornament or otherwise, are found. With those, where the body has been placed entire in the grave, the objects are numerous, and, in some instances, are elaborate and beautiful in ornamentation. Among the articles which the Saxon grave-mounds of Derbyshire have produced are swords, knives, seaxes, spear-heads, umbones of shields, , buckles, helmets, querns, drinking cups, enamels, gold, silver, and bronze articles, baskets, buckets, draughtsmen, combs, beads and necklaces, rings, ear-rings, caskets, armlets, fibulæ, articles for the chatelaine, pottery, etc. Of some of these I will now proceed to speak.
The sword of the Anglo-Saxon period, as evidenced by the Derbyshire barrows, is of the form shown on the accompanying engraving, from a barrow at Tissington. This sword, which is thirty-four inches in length, and two and a half inches in breadth, is, of course, of iron. It had been originally enclosed in a wooden scabbard, or sheath, which had, apparently, been covered with leather, and mounted with elaborately ornamented silver.
The chape, which was of silver, was simply rounded, and
the rivets which attached it, as also those which attached the leather, remained. Another fine example was found at Brushfield, by the side of the body shown on page 460. It, too, had been enclosed in a sheath of wood, which had been covered with leather, ornamented with lines and lozenges.
The shield was usually placed in Saxon interments over the middle of the body, as indicated in the plan on page 460; but of this, indications only were in this instance found. In the Tissington barrow before spoken of, a portion of the edge of the shield was found adhering to the sword, as shown in
the engraving, and the umbone, or central boss of the shield was also found. This umbone, here engraved is of iron, conical in form, and measures nine inches in height. It is the largest yet found in Derbyshire, and is in form similar to examples found at Sibertswold, and in other localities. When found, the umbone was surrounded with a mass of decayed wood, the remains of the shield, and small fragments of corroded iron, which were, doubtless, a part of its mountings.
The knives found in the Derby
shire barrows are of the general forms. They are usually found, sometimes one and sometimes two, lying by the skeleton on the opposite side from the sword, though, in some instances, the knife and sword have been found lying side by side, as in the interment on page 460.
Spear heads also of iron are occasionally found. Two of these, lying on the right side of the head, will be seen in the engraving on page 460. They are short and socketed.
One of the most remarkable objects of the Saxon era which has been exhumed is the helmet already alluded to. This highlyinteresting relic was discovered by Mr. Bateman at Benty Grange, in 1848. The barrow was of but slight elevation, and contained the remains of a body which had been laid on the natural surface of the earth, as already named. Among the articles remaining—for the body, with the exception of a portion of the hair, had entirely disappeared—was the remarkable helmet here engraved. This helmet “consists of a skeleton formed of iron bands radiating from the crown of the head, and riveted to a circle of the same metal, which encompassed the brow; from the impression on the metal it is evident that the outside was covered with plates of horn, disposed diagonally, so as to produce a herring-bone pattern.
The ends of these plates were secured beneath with strips of horn corresponding with the iron framework, and attached to it by ornamental rivets of silver, at intervals of about an inch
and a half from each other. On the bottom of the front rib, which projects so as to form a nasal, is a small silver cross (shown in the engraving), slightly ornamented round the edges
by a beaded moulding, and on the crown of the helmet is an elliptical bronze plate, supporting the figure of an animal carved in iron, with bronze eyes, now much corroded, but perfectly distinct, as the representation of a hog. There are, too, many fragments, some or less ornamented with silver, which have been riveted to some part of the helmet in a manner not to be explained or even understood. There are also some small buckles of iron, which probably served to fasten it upon the head.” The boar, which is here borne as a crest on the top of the helmet, was, it appears, according to Tacitus, borne as a charm against the dangers of war, and this custom is curiously illustrated by the poem of“ Beowulf,” which is thus translated :
VOL. XII.-NO. VI.