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I THOUGHT I had taken leave of urnes, when I had some Years past given a short Account of those found at Walsingham, but a New Discovery being made, I readily obey your Commands in a brief Description thereof.
In a large Arable Field, lying between Buxton and Brampton, but belonging to Brampton, and not much more than a Furlong from Oxnead Park, divers Urnes were found. A Part of the Field being designed to be inclosed, while the Workmen made several Ditches, they fell upon divers Urnes, but earnestly, and carelessly digging, they broke all they met with, and finding nothing but Ashes, or burnt Cinders, they scattered what they found. Upon Notice given unto me, I went unto the Place, and though I used all Care with the Workmen, yet they were broken in the taking out, but many, without doubt, are still remaining in that Ground.
Of these Pots none were found above Three Quarters of a Yard in the Ground, whereby it appeareth, that in all this Time the Earth hath little varied its Surface, though this Ground hath been Plowed to the utmost Memory of Man. Whereby it may be also conjectured, that this hath not been a Wood-Land, as some conceive all this Part to have been; for in such Lands they usually made no common
1 See Hydriotaphia, Urne Burial: or, a Discourse of the Sepulchrai Urnes lately found in Norfolk. 8vo. Lond., printed 1658.
Burying-places, except for some special Persons in groves,
i and likewise that there hath been an Ancient Habitation about these Parts; for at Buxton also, not a Mile off, urnes have been found in my Memory, but in their Magnitude, Figure, Colour, Posture, &c., there was no small Variety, some were large and capacious, able to contain above Two Gallons, some of a middle, others of a smaller Size; the great ones probably belonging to greater Persons, or might be Family Urnes, fit to receive the Ashes successively of their Kindred and Relations, and therefore of these, some had Coverings of the same Matter, either fitted to them, or a thin flat stone, like a Grave Slate, laid over them; and therefore also great Ones were but thinly found, but others in good Number; some were of large wide Mouths, and Bellies proportionable, with short Necks, and bottoms of Three Inches Diameter, and near an Inch thick; some small, with Necks like Juggs, and about that Bigness; the Mouths of some few were not round, but after the Figure of a Circle compressed ; though some had small, yet none had pointed Bottoms, according to the Figures of those which are to be seen in Roma Soterranea, Viginerus, or Mascardus.
In the Colours also there was great Variety, some were Whitish, some Blackish, and inclining to a Blue, others Yellowish, or dark Red, arguing the Variety of their Materials. Some Fragments, and especially Bottoms of Vessels, which seem'd to be handsome neat Pans, were also found of a fine Coral-like red, somewhat like Portugal Vessels, as tho' they had been made out of some fine Bolary Earth, and very smooth; but the like had been found in divers Places, as Dr. Casaubon hath observed about the Pots found at Newington in Kent, and as other Pieces do yet testifie, which are to be found at Burrow Castle, an Old Roman station, not far from Yarmouth.
Of the Urnes, those of the larger Sort, such as had Coverings, were found with their Mouths placed
upwards, but great Numbers of the others were, as they informed me, (and One I saw myself,) placed with their Mouths downward, which were probably such as were not to be opened again, or receive the Ashes of any other Person ; though some wonder'd at this Position, yet I saw no Inconveniency in it; for the Earth being closely pressed, and especially in Minor-mouth'd pots, they stand in a Posture as like to continue as the other, as being less subject to have the Earth fall in, or the Rain to soak into them; and the same Posture has been observed in some found in other places, as Holingshead delivers, of divers found in Anglesea.
Some had Inscriptions, the greatest Part none; those with Inscriptions were of the largest Sort, which were upon the reverted Verges thereof; the greatest part of those which I could obtain were somewhat obliterated; yet some of the Letters to be made out : the Letters were between Lines, either Single or Double, and the Letters of some few after a fair Roman Stroke, others more rudely and illegibly drawn, wherein there seemed no great Variety, NUON being upon very many of them; only upon the inside of the bottom of a small Red Pan-like Vessel, were legibly set down in embossed Letters, CRACUNA. F. which might imply Cracuna figuli, or the Name of the Manufactor, for Inscriptions commonly signified the Name of the Person interr'd, the Names of Servants Official to such Provisions, or the Name of the Artificer, or Manufactor of such Vessels; all which are particularly exemplified by the Learned Licetus, where the same Inscription is often found, it is probably, of the Artificer, or where the Name also is in the Genitive Case, as he also observeth.
Out of one was brought unto me a Silver Denarius, with the Head of Diva Faustina on the Obverse side, on the Reverse the Figures of the Emperor and Empress joining their Right Hands, with this Inscription, Concordia ; the same is to be seen in Augustino; I
1 Vid. Licet, de Lucernis.
also received from some Men and Women then present Coins of Posthumus and Tetricus, two of the Thirty Tyrants in the Reign of Gallienus, which being of much later Date, begat an Inference, that Urne-Burial lasted longer, at least in this Country, than is commonly supposed. Good Authors conceive, that this Custom ended with the Reigns of the Antonini, whereof the last was Antoninus Heliogabalus, yet these Coins extend about Fourscore Years lower; and since the Head of Tetricus is made with a radiated Crown, it must be conceived to have been made after his Death, and not before his Consecration, which as the Learned Tristan Conjectures, was most probably in the Reign of the Emperor Tacitus, and the Coin not made, or at least not issued Abroad, before the Time of the Emperor Probus, for Tacitus Reigned but Six Months and an Half, his Brother Florianus but Two_Months, unto whom Probus succeeding, Reigned Five Years.
There were also found some pieces of Glass, and finer Vessels, which might contain such Liquors as they often Buried in, or by, the Urnes; divers Pieces of Brass, of several Figures; and in one Urne was found a Nail Two Inches long; whither to declare the Trade or Occupation of the Person, is uncertain. But upon the Monuments of Smiths, in Gruter, we meet with the Figures of Hammers, Pincers, and the like; and we find the Figure of a Cobler's Awl on the Tomb of one of that Trade, which was in the Custody of Berini, as Argulus hath set it down in his Notes upon Onuphrius, Of the Antiquities of Verona.
Now, though Urnes have been often discovered in former Ages, many think it strange there should be many still found, yet assuredly there may be great Numbers still concealed. For tho' we should not reckon upon any who were thus buried before the Time of the Romans (altho' that the Druids were thus buried, it may be probable, and we read of the Urne of Chindonactes, a Druid, found near Dijon in Burgundy, largely discoursed of by Licetus), and tho', I say, we