Between 1893–1894 Lieutenant General Pitt-Rivers excavated Wor Barrow, a Neolithic long barrow monument on Handley Down in Cranborne Chase. Beneath an oval mound a wooden chamber was found containing six burials. This chamber was covered by turf and sealed by a chalk mound with ditches surrounding it. Thousands of years later more burials were added of Roman or Early Medieval date.
Pitt-Rivers was the first archaeologist to record his discoveries in great detail, paying attention to the importance of the ordinary as well as the extraordinary. Thanks to his high standards of recording, archaeologists today can re-examine the archive. In 2007 Dr Mike Allen and Dr Martin Smith undertook a Carbon 14 dating programme of the human and animal bone.
The chamber was built between 3685 and 3650BC and in use for about four generations, approximately 85 years. Two burials (numbers one and two) were placed first in the chamber, lying on their backs. Then years later their legs were folded up to make way for two crouched burials (numbers four and six). Another burial (number three) was then placed near the edge of the chamber over burial four and finally burial five was added before the chamber was sealed. Around 3655 –3595BC the chamber was covered by turf and the surrounding ditch was completed by 3635–3485BC. Later the ditch and mound were enlarged and a man and child (burials eight and nine) were buried in the ditch at the southeast end. Isotope analysis indicates that everyone had grown up within the region and they had a high animal protein diet.
Other items in the The Wessex Gallery collection