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Dressing The Stones
Raising The Foreign Stones
Salisbury Plain
Stonehenge
Stonehenge Summarised Useful Facts For The Attention Of Visitors
Tenons And Mortices
The Barrows Of Salisbury Plain
The Building Of Stonehenge
The Druid Question
The Earthwork
The Foreign Stones
The Hele Stone Or Friar's Heel
The Legend Of The Friar's Heel
The Lithology Of Stonehenge
The Men Of The Barrows
The Process Of Erection
The Round Barrows
The Slaughtering Stone
The Stones Without The Circle
The Story Of The Sarsens
Valedictory
What Was Stonehenge?
When Was Stonehenge Erected?



The Barrows Of Salisbury Plain








It is impossible to approach Stonehenge without passing numbers of
burial mounds or Barrows. North, south, east, or west they meet the
eye, some singly, some in groups. In the immediate neighbourhood of
Stonehenge there are two Long Barrows and three hundred Round ones,
or, in other words, one-fourth of the Barrows in Wiltshire are to be
found within a short distance of the Altar Stone of Stonehenge. This
cannot altogether be accidental. The suggestion at once rises to the
mind that these burial places clustering about the circle of
Stonehenge are strongly reminiscent of the graveyard about the village
church of to-day. The Rev. William Gilpin, writing in 1798, when as
yet the Plain was unbroken by the plough and cultivation, recognised
this fact at once. All the Plain, at least that part of it near
Stonehenge, is one vast cemetery.... From many places we counted above
a hundred of them at once; sometimes as if huddled together, without
any design, in other places rising in a kind of order. Most of them
are placed on the more elevated parts of the Plain, and generally in
sight of the great Temple. At one time it was considered that these
Barrows were the monuments erected to the memory of warriors who had
fallen in battle. Though this popular conception is still current, it
seems hardly likely that a victorious army would tarry after the day
was won to erect these laborious monuments, all of which are designed
and laid out with no little skill. A far more reasonable hypothesis,
and one more in accordance with fact, is that they represent the
graves of exalted personages, and that their erection extended over a
considerable period.

The Barrows may be roughly divided into two classes: (i) the Long
Barrow; (ii) the Round Barrow, with its three variants, the Bowl, the
Bell, and Disc Barrow.

The Long Barrow is the older form, and may usually be referred to the
Neolithic Age. Wiltshire is specially rich in Long Barrows. There are
no fewer than seventy-two within its limits, and fourteen others have
been destroyed within the past century. They are usually found
standing alone, and very seldom is it possible to find two of them
within sight. They are also, as a rule, found upon rising ground.
Their construction is somewhat curious. They vary from two to four
hundred feet in length, thirty to fifty feet in breadth, and from
three to twelve feet in height. The earth of which they are composed
was dug out from a trench on either side of the mound. This trench
did not, however, continue round the two ends of the barrow. They lie
usually, but not always, east and west, and the eastern end is higher
than that at the west. Within the higher end is the sepulchral
deposit.


Two such Long Barrows are within a short distance of Stonehenge. No
metal objects have been found in these Long Barrows, though
leaf-shaped flint arrow-heads, most delicately chipped, are almost
invariably met with, and occasionally rough, hand-made, undecorated
pottery. Most Long Barrows have been used for secondary interments,
i.e. other bodies at a later date have been buried in them. These
secondary interments are sometimes associated with bronze or even
iron. Interesting as the Long Barrows are, however, they are only
mentioned as being, so far as present information goes, the earliest
form of regular sepulture in this country. It is highly improbable
that they have any connection with Stonehenge, which must have been
erected at an age when the Long Barrow with its inhumed body was
passing away, and the plain was being peopled with a new race, the
round-headed people, whose method of burial was considerably
different.





Next: The Round Barrows

Previous: The Druid Question



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