[Vannin Lior (Yn Lioar Manninagh) Vol 1 No 1 pp11/3]



(Read 1st November, 1888.)

ON Friday, 26th October, some members of our Society and their friends were present at the opening of a Tumulus, opposite to the Vicarage, Kirk Michael, on the White House farm. A good portion of the N.E. side of the Mound had been removed some years ago to make room for a Cottage to be built; on the S.E. side also part had been levelled, and the hedge of a field now runs along it. When perfect the diameter would have been about 39 feet, and the height as it stands is 7 feet.

The formation of the mound was peculiar, and in some respects resembled that of one (about twice its diameter, but only 6ft. high) on Farway Down, South Devon,—Waring’s Rude Stone Monuments, Plate 30, Fig. 2 a,—and of "an early Scandinavian gravemound"—Id. Plate 31, Figure 2. Operations were commenced by digging a trench from the S.W. toward the centre to the level of the original surface; at the same time some of the party were engaged in removing the soil from the top of the mound. Another trench was opened more to the West, and subsequently the surface soil was removed from West to East; the formation thus disclosed was found to have been as follows :—First a bed of red sand which at the highest part of the mound attained a thickness of 2½ feet, upon this was heaped a Cairn of broken quartz, the pieces varying from 1in. to 6in. or 7in. diameter. On the West side these pieces were very small, getting larger as the centre was approached. In the highest part this bed of quartz measured about 2½ ft. in depth; above the broken quartz was another 2ft. of red sand, including about 6ins. of surface soil. It was in this sand and, resting directly on the quartz, that the Urns were met with; in it also were found some pieces of charcoal and some flint flakes; below the quartz also some pieces of charcoal were met with, and there was a layer of silver sand.

No fewer than six Urns were discovered at a depth of 1 foot to 2 feet from the surface;. they all, with one exception, contained burned bones. Of two only very small and few fragments were saved, the remainder having evidently crumbled away, and all were more or less broken by the roots of gorse, brambles and grass, which had penetrated and pierced them through and through. In size the Urns ranged from 8in. to 12in. high. None bore any ornament except the first which is marked more or less all over by lines of faintly incised short strokes close together without definite design. They were all close together near the top of the mound.. Nos. 1, 4, 2 lay almost in a line from East to West, 4 being about 5ft. 6in. West of 1 ; and 2 about 3ft. West of 4. No. 3 was about 5ft. 6in. S.W. of 4, and about 3ft. 3in. S.S.W. of 2. No. 5 was about 4ft. S.S.E. of 4; and No. 6 about 2ft. N.W. of 1.

Description of the Urns: No. 1. Found broken and lying on its side, close to the surface, suggesting the idea that it had been at one time exhumed and re-buried. The entire height must have been 11in. or 12in.; depth of rim or border, 1½in.; the thickness of its walls were, at the rim ¾ in., the rest about ½ in. The lip was plain and square with the rim, 4½ below it was a second faint moulding from which the walls converged, and about 5in. nearer the bottom they inclined at a sharper angle. Burnt bones and earth were found in and around it. It was of a brown colour, and bore an irregular ornamentation, consisting of faint strokes, giving it the appearance of being scribbled all over. The ornament on the border consisted of diagonal lines formed by holes punctured by some sharp instrument while the clay was plastic, and so as to give a series of triangular or V shaped figures (with apex towards the mouth of the Urn), the base of the triangle measuring 1½ to 2in., and the spaces between them about ½ in. Each figure contained a smaller V, sometimes two. Between the points of these triangles, similarly punctured holes formed a line round the rim. The contents were a mass of calcined bones, sand, and fibres of grass roots. Sections of the walls showed the inside to be dark, almost black; ~the outside, about 1/3 of the thickness, reddish, the face faded brown; surface smooth.

No. 2 was in fragments when found, but the diameter of its mouth, placed downwards, could be traced and appeared to have been about 12in. It had a border at least gin. deep and a moulding lower down as in No. 1. It was without ornamentation, with smooth surface of a yellowish red colour, inside black.

No. 3 was almost perfect when found, but much cracked, so that it could not be moved without breaking. It rested mouth down, directly on the bed of broken quartz. The entire height was about 8in., depth of border 2½in., diameter at the base was 3½in and at the widest, just below the rim, 7in, and, at the mouth 6½in. Thickness of walls, ½in. It bore no ornamentation, the colour was very red both outside and inside, altogether it had much the appearance of a modern flower-pot.

No. 4 was in a very fair condition, and resting mouth downwards directly on the quartz. Its westernmost side was first disclosed, and for a minute it was thought that a peculiar and novel form of urn had been discovered, but on removing the sand all round, this was found to be due to pressure from above, which had caused the rim to bulge out in a remarkable way; two large pieces of the walls had fallen in, and the inside now contained nothing but fine loose sand. There was no ornamentation. The entire height was about 9½in., depth of border 9in., diameter at mouth perhaps 9in., just below the rim about 8 in., and at the base 5in. Colour yellowish red, black inside.

No. 5. The fragments found gave little or no indication of its size or shape, no ornamentation was apparent. The outside surface was smooth, reddish, inside dark; the thickness of the rim ¾in.

No. 6. This was unfortunately disturbed by the spade, being very near the surface; only small pieces were found. It had a border 2½ to 3in. deep. Its diameter about the centre was as nearly as could be judged when first seen, 8in. No ornamentation was seen on it. The walls 5/8in. thick were dark inside for ½ in., the outside red. Surface a faded yellow, almost warty in appearance, as though the paste of clay and crushed stone had not been properly mixed or kneaded.

It was thought that an Urn or Cist might be found under the heap of quartz, but nothing further was discovered though the mound was almost entirely excavated.


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