From Bones to Burial Urns: Allithwaite Archaeology. May 2019

 

Dan Elsworth of Greenlane Archaeology gave a very interesting talk on his involvement with two archaeological excavations which took place in Allithwaite in 2001 and in 2015. He began bydrawing our attention to previous references and finds mentioned in Stockdale’s Annals of Cartmel. This find was at the time thought to be Roman and was described as having zig zag patterning and was attributed to a location on Aysome road, Cartmel near a Yew Tree. However, later writings by Watkins may have led to a certain amount of confusion to the precise location of the earlier discoveries and as a result the Parish of Allithwaite became Allithwaite village. In this way Allithwaite village became a site of archaeological significance.

Dan explained that the standard practice when a planning application has been submitted in an area known to have a history of archaeological artefacts, is to carry out archaeological excavations before building work takes place. Thus two sites : one in Church Road (2001) and the other in Jack Hill (2015) have been successfully excavated but several Bronze Age and not Roman urns ( also with zig zag patterning resembling the description by Stockdale of the earlier find) of differing sizes and conditions along with some flints were excavated and are presently with Kendal Museum awaiting display.

Dan explained how a number of random trenches are dug in order to sample a site and in both the Allithwaite diggings the first trench dug successfully revealed urn cremations which had in some cases used the natural hollows in the limestone. The bones found were able to indicate gender, age and bone diseases such as osteoporosis. With the aid of cling film and plaster of Paris bandages, the urns were removed from the ground and ready for further specialised investigation. The two sites resulted in artefacts from as early as 2020 BC in the Church road site and 1800 BC in the Jack Hill site and Allithwaite is the only place to have two sites of Bronze Age artefacts in Cumbria.

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