Silsden (G-B) : Top caveman's urn found at burial mound

David Knights

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Imgid118273169 jpg galleryThe burial chamber for a stone age VIP has been discovered in Silsden.

Archaeologists recently excavated the barrow created for an “important individual” at least 4,500 years ago and found items including an ancient urn.

The experts described the find, on the site of the planned Belton Road housing development near the River Aire, as rare and exciting.

Earlier this year housing company Barratt David Wilson Homescalled in archaeologists in advance of beginning construction of up to 190 houses on the 16.5 acre site.

The operation, which involved both evaluation and excavation, was organised by Prospect Archaeology and carried out by West Yorkshire Archaeological Services.

Spokesman David Hunter said the site lay on a terrace north of the river and was quite prominent to the trained eye.

He said a magnetometer survey by a geophysics team revealed clear anomalies associated with burial practices in the late Neolithic and early Bronze Age.

Specialists believed these included a double-ditched barrow, a mortuary enclosure and a ‘double pit alignment’.

Mr Hunter said: “Whilst finds were few the excavation of the barrow has produced rare but characteristic flints and pottery including a Neolithic leaf-shaped arrowhead, a Letter flint blade and a complete collared urn.

Imgid118273185 jpg galleryThe urn was found in a pit towards the centre at the barrow and is likely to be the primary burial and focus of this feature.

These large vessels are believed to have been principally made for ritual and burial practices and are decorated with incised lines.

The size, form and artefacts pointed to the barrel being created in the later Neolithic to early Bronze Age some 5,000 to 4,500 years ago and the burial of an important individual in a prominent location.”

The urn was removed for further study in the laboratory.

Other pottery and cremated material should the barrow remained an important feature of the upper Aire Valley into the Bronze Age.

Imgid118273097 jpg galleryA small square enclosure in a ditch around 100 metres from the barrow has been interpreted as a mortuary enclosure.

Mr Hunter added: “If this interpretation holds it is an important reminder that internment in a barrel was only the final stage in a series of rites and rituals associated with death and burial.”

The pit alignment dates from the Iron Age, more than 1,500 years after the creation of the barrow.

Mr Hunter said: “Later agricultural activity was also in evidence with some undated field ditches, medieval ridge and furrow cultivation, and 18th and 19th-century land improvements.”