University of Oxford

File(s) not publicly available

Kingston Down Grave 6

online resource
posted on 2021-11-10, 15:29 authored by Helena HamerowHelena Hamerow
Tumulus and grave much as the last: the bones very perfect, and the teeth firm and even: thick coffin (as might be collected from the quantity of dust), and much burnt: two beautiful urns, one of greenish the other of whitish glass [M 6115 and M 6116]; the former holds about half a pint, and is quite plain; the latter holds about three gills, and is very curiously corded from the centre of its bottom up to its lip or mouth. The former stood on the right side of the skull; the latter near the right hip. Here was also a very curious ball of native crystal [M 6087], about one and a half inch diameter;[1](there is just such another among Sir W. Fagg's antiquities); as also two slender Knotted rings of silver wire; they have each of them a blue glass bead strung upon it [M 6088 & M 6559]. The knots, I imagine, were made for the conveniency (though it be an awkward one) of putting them into and taking them out of the ears; for they were undoubtedly used as ear-rings; they were found close under the lower jaw, as were also six small loose beads of different colours (like those also found at Ash), and one of blue glass, like those which were strung upon the rings just mentioned: a small amethyst, of a pyriform shape, about three quarters of an inch long, and about three-eighths of an inch diameter; it is perforated longitudinally, and is exactly like the drop of a modern ear-ring. Close by the side of the skull was a silver pin [M 6089], two inches long; its head is flatted on two opposite sides; no doubt but it was used as an acus discriminalis, or pin for the hair. Here were also several nail-like and other pieces of iron. We may reasonably conclude that the person here deposited was a woman.[1]Mr. Faussett here gives several references to the discovery of crystal balls with sepulchral remains; but without observations. Douglas found one in the grave of a Saxon female on Chatham Lines, 'enclosed in a lap of silver, pendent to two silver rings.'-Nenia Britannica, pl. 4, fig. 8. He cites several instances of the discovery of such balls; and enters into a long dissertation with a view to prove that they had been used for magical purposes. In some of the glass vessels, which had been obviously intended for the common purposes of domestic life, he also saw relics that had been appropriated to magical ceremonies. In describing them he remarks: \They are always fashioned without a base to stand on; and or tear-bottles they seem to be appropriated only to funereal rites. As they generally occur with instruments of magic it is very probable that they contained the aqua magica.\"-(p. 14.) In the same misconception of the cause of the presence of such objects in these graves and from want of consideration of the habits and customs of the Saxons in relation to their funeral ceremonies Douglas in other implements such as iron shears and a mirror also sees the evidence of their application to divinition as well as to the usual ends for which such things were made. The crystal ball from Chatham Lines was mounted in silver evidently for suspension upon the person as an ornament; and it is in this light we must regard the example before us and others found both in Roman and Saxon cemeteries.- C.R.S."


Grave title


Date excavated

21st August, 1767


Faussett 1856

Page number


Usage metrics

    The Novum Inventorium Sepulchrale


    Ref. manager