Hindlow round cairn, Derbyshire: some info on the human remains and radiocarbon dates

 

So today I thought I’d share some information about one of the case studies from my PhD.  This was one of five sites I did case studies on, and was the first to be radiocarbon dated.

Hindlow was a round cairn in Derbyshire, the site was originally investigated my Thomas Bateman  in 1845.  Bateman discovered the remains of three adults and a child, of which he removed only the skulls; he did not find a primary burial.   In 1953 the cairn was fully excavated by Paul Ashbee and his wife as the cairn was about to be destroyed.  During this excavation the burials of around 23 individuals were discovered; four of the skeletons were articulated and in stratified sequences with earlier disturbed burials.  Mortuary processes at the site included both cremation and inhumation; there was only one burial which was associated with an artefact.

So my work on this site firstly involved the re-examination of the human remains in order to find out as much details as possible about these individuals.  I also assessed the archaeological context in attempt to understand the use and development of this site.

The majority of the remains are inhumations, with only three cremation deposits. Five of the adult inhumed individuals are highly fragmented and also at times scattered.

Overall there was a majority of at least seven adult males but also there were five neonates and one young infant.  There were female individuals but these were earlier in the sequence and more fragmented.  All age groups were represented in the assemblage.

The palaeopathological evidence included indications of osteoarthritis and joint degeneration of the spine, which together probably indicate strenuous activity, perhaps agriculture.  Other indications of disease included osteoporosis, linear enamel hypoplasia, periostitis and mandibular abscess.

In comparison with the rest of the inhumed sample, the Hindlow individuals had a low prevalence of linear enamel hypoplasia and periodontal disease, and none of these individuals had suffered from cribra orbitalia.  On the surface these individuals seem healthy but this is possibly due to not surviving long enough to develop lesions.

after Ashbee and Ashbee 1981

Plan of Hindlow, Derbyshire, after Ashbee and Ashbee 1981

The sequence of Hindlow cairn was thought by Ashbee to follow two phases of cairn construction, associated with two distinct phases of burials. A number of the human remains were recently radiocarbon dated to examine the validity of this chronology.

The results of the radiocarbon dates indicate that burial 2 (previously thought by to be associated with the later phase barrow elaboration) dates to around the same time as a cremation in the SE quadrant area of burials.

Date Burial Dates BP Cal BC (95.4%) (unmodelled) Modelled dates Cal BC
OxA-25385 Bateman cremation 4244 ±32BP 2915-2703 2914-2699
OxA-25384 Scatter 1 3783 ±32BP 2335- 2057 2281-2040
OxA-25380 Burial 1 3682 ±32BP 2193- 1963 2187-1959
OxA-25383 Burial 8 (scatter 2) 3617 ±32BP 2119- 1890 2118-1891
OxA-25382 Burial 2 3565 ±31BP 2022- 1777 2024-1820
OxA-25386 Main cremation 3564 ±33BP 2022- 1776 2024-1787
OxA-25387 Burial 5 3523 ±32BP 1936- 1753 1952-1776
OxA-25381 Burial 4 3312 ±30BP 1681- 1518 1680-1520

 

One of the most surprising results of the radiocarbon dates was that of the cremated remains which had been disturbed by Bateman’s excavation.   Ashbee discovered these remains in the central area of the pre-barrow surface, the result of 2915-2703 cal BC is Neolithic which was unexpected.  However this date does demonstrate the variation in the use of these burial sites.

The latest dated burial (burial 4) is also interesting in that it is a late date for an inhumation, another individual, which was not dated was positioned slightly above burial 4.  This means that these two individuals were contemporary or that burial 3 was deposited even later.

I currently have a publication on Hindlow in press (this should be released this year) and I will also hopefully be publishing further details in the future.

that’s all for now

Sam

 

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