Touching the Ancestors
The Coldrum stones long barrow is situated not far from the Pilgrims Way near Trottiscliffe, Kent. The monument has been dated to the early Neolithic period around 4000 BCE.
The barrow was excavated in 1912, 22 human skeletons and various animal
remains were found. Nobody has ever been sure if this was a family buried, or a chieftain with his slaves enabling them to continue to serve him.
Some of the remains where removed from the Trottiscliffe church in 1984, where they had been on display in the porch and now reside in the Maidstone Museum.
Many moons ago I wondered if it would be possible to take the remains of the people interred at the tomb back there and hold a ritual to honour their return. I do not want to have them reburied but just to have them placed inside the chamber for a short while.
So I e-mailed the curator to see if a visit would be possible.This would just be a low key visit, just to spend time with the bones and see if it felt right to continue with the project. The curator got back to me and we set a date.
On the 22nd of October I visited the remains with Kate, who is also interested in the whole idea of taking them back, arriving at 10 AM we entered the Museum and went to the reception, after a short wait we were taken to the cellar where the collections not on display are held. Feeling both nervous and excited at the same time we went down the stairs and found a table with the remains all laid out.
If there was an award for the coolest curator then I think it should go to Giles Guthrie, he was both informative and sympathetic to the reason for our visit. He allowed us to remove the bones from there bags and spend time handling them.
We spent over two hours talking and connecting with the spirit of these amazing artifacts, in amongst the bags of human remains was a collection of animal bones found in the central cist, deer, fox, sheep, ox and cat. the fox bone had been broken open to remove the marrow.
The human remains included jaw bones from 6 year old and 18 month old children, male bones showing signs of rheumatic changes in the joints and bones from the foot of a woman.
The fragment of a thigh bone which shows signs of cremation held my attention, holding it in my hand I felt a strong connection and could almost smell the fire.
Also on the table was a skull which was on display at the church, the information on this says “A skull of a man from an ancient grave (not Coldrum)".
Of the 22 human remains excavated we have only tracked down these held at Maidstone but I am currently in talks with the Natural history museum to find out where the rest could my be held, my investigations on both the internet and with Archaeological societies turned up information on a skull being carbon dated at the moment, and there is evidence that some of the finds from post world war one excavations where taken to London, but the storage was bombed during the blitz and so lost forever.
A recent article on the Female skull and the fatal wound to the cranium has been found but more investigation is needed to locate this also.
During our visit we talked about the idea of returning the remains for a ritual to Giles and he confirmed that he would support our request and had no problem at all with allowing them to leave the Museum for that purpose.
The Story continues .......
Love and Unrest /|\