Some years ago my friends who own a large farm on the outskirts of Leek and also around 50 acres of land overlooking the Manifold valley told me of a small wood which they own high up on the land overlooking the valley, this tiny wood is surrounded by a dry stone wall which John had constructed and topped by a barb wire fence. In this wood he told me that a little known ancient Burial mound could be found.
Like I said previously this must have been around 8-10 years ago and back then John and Joan Alcock told me to go to Martins low farm and get permission to cross their land as this was the most direct route to the wood, I was given permission, however when I got to the field where the wood and burial mound are located one of the farm hands was busy rounding up sheep so I decided to go back another day, however that day never came and I forgot about it.
Moving on 8-10 years I was visiting John and Joan Alcock and the subject of the burial mound got raised, this time I told them I was determined to reach it, however they told me that I couldn’t go via Martins low farm again as the farmer was in poor health.
This time they told me that I would need to travel from Leek on the Ashbourne road until I came into the village of Waterhouses, as I came into the village I would need to turn left and head towards the village of Waterfall which is about 1 mile from Waterhouses. When I get to Waterfall I need to follow the signs to the parish church where I can park, then follow the lane down the hill, cross over the ford and carry on a short way straight ahead and I will come to a large wooden gate and a sign called Brooklyn. I followed all of these directions and passed through the gate which leads to a bridle path, I followed this path which climbs up the hill and is enclosed on each side by high hedges and trees, when I reached the top of the hill and the bridle path came out into open fields I spotted what I thought was the small wood that John and Joan had told me about.
Thor’s cave in the Manifold valley can be seen from the Neolithic burial mound.
I eventually reached the wood and after having a root about and taking photographs the farmer suddenly appeared and asked me what I was doing, after telling him that I knew John and Joan and they had sent me to photograph the burial mound he told me that I had entered the wrong wood, he pointed out the small wood I was seeking which was some way off. I was fortunate in that I had gone to the wrong wood because if I hadn’t I would never have got to talk to the farmer and I wouldn’t have learnt an interesting fact. When he found out I knew John and Joan he opened up and started talking about the burial mound, he told me that when there is a light covering of snow on the ground he can make out what he described as a processional route which leads from another Tumulus on his land and which leads to the Neolithic burial mound which I was searching for. He went on to say that I could go on to his land and photograph the Tumulus in question, I thanked him and said I would return at a later date and take him up on his offer, after pointing out which direction I should take and pointing out the gates I set out on my original purpose and headed towards the small wood once more which was still quite a hike and which involved retracing my route back down the bridle path until I found a gateway on my left which lead up a steep hill where the wood is located.
Eventually I reached the summit and I looked in the direction of the other Tumulus where the processional route can be seen when there is snow on the ground, the farmer had told me that it is wider than a cart track which suggests a person of some importance must have been buried here for people to have made such an ardous trek to reach this place.
The trees in the background show where the other Tumulus can be found and where a possible processional way leads to the Neolithic burial mound.
After finding a way into the wood over the dry stone wall I found that the small wood was dominated by the huge burial mound inside it. After climbing to the top of the mound I found that their was a depression on the top of it which suggests that someone has attempted to excavate it sometime in the past.
John had told me previously that there was a chamber which may have led into the mound, he went on to say that this had collapsed around 10 years ago, its sods law, if I had got to see the mound 10 years ago when I had originally come here the chamber would probably have been intact.
It would be interesting to excavate the chamber and restore it to its original condition and see where it leads, however I’m sure there would be a lot of red tape and permits involved so I doubt that it will ever come to pass. It does seem a shame however that this burial mound which must have been of great importance in the distant past is now falling into disrepair.
On Saturday 1-9-2012 I received the following information off John and Joan Alcock the owners of the land where Waterfall Low can be found, the information is as follows:
Description of the Monument.
The monument includes Waterfall Low bowl barrow located at the southern end of the crest of a ridge 530m north-west of Redwayclose Barn. It survives as a slightly mutilated oval and stone mound 1.5m high with maximum dimensions of 25m by 23m. Stone robbing has left the barrow with a central pit up to 1.2m deep and a number of minor quarries on its southern side. Limited antiquarian investigation at the barrow’s centre located a rock- cut grave containing a few fragments of bone. Elsewhere in the trench human bones, antler tines, horse teeth and flint artefacts were found.
Assessment of Importance.
Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 bc. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often acted as a focus for burials in later periods. Often superficially similar, although differing widely in size, they exhibit regional variations in form and a diversity of burial practices. There are over 10,000 surviving bowl barrows recorded nationally (many more have already been destroyed), occurring across most of lowland Britain.
Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape and their considerable variation of form and longevity as a monument type provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisations amongst Early Prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.
Despite some mutilation of the barrow by stone robbing and limited antiquarian investigation of the monument’s centre, Waterfall Low bowl barrow survives reasonably well. This investigation located human and faunal remains together with flint artefacts, and further evidence of interments and grave goods will exist within the mound and upon the old landsurface.