Stoney Hill field

Around 1874 an early Anglo-saxon cemetery was revealed by the track from Cantelupe Farm to Haslingfield (Cantelupe Road) 'in the feald known as Stoney Hill'.  Frederick Pond supplied George Rolleston, Professor of Anatomy and Physiology at Oxford University, with skulls and urns filled with burnt bones and associated items.  

A series of letters from Frederick Pond to Professor Rolleston providing an account of the discoveries is preserved among the Rolleston papers (Ashmolean Museum), and parts of those letters are quoted in 'A Gazetteer of Early Anglo-Saxon Burial Sites' by Audrey Meaney:


    1874-75  A cemetery was revealed by the track from Cantelupe Farm to Haslingfield 'in the feald known as Stoney Hill'.  A long correspondence is preserved among the Rolleston papers, consisting of letters from one Frederick Pond, a fossil collector of Haslingfield, who supplied Rolleston with skulls and urns filled with burnt bones; this appears to give the only contemporary account of the discoveries.
    Feb. 24, 1874  'I have sent you the Anticquaties mentioned in my letter to you from Harston Station they was found at Haslingfield in the feald known as Stoney Hill there is a great many skelitens beene found there was some found with those Broach but the Buried them ... I have bought this little thing like a watch face ...'
    March 26  'I have got 3 Pots found in the Same Place ... one the largest is figured outside very nice. ... It had a lot of Bones Been preserved in it it hade a Bone Combe in it with the earth. ... The other 2 had not anything in them only earth 2 of them are small'.  Rolleston recorded that the bones were human, of a girl aged about 14 and with them 2 glenoid ends of scapula of a ?calf.
    May 20  '3 urns, the smallest very nice. ... They was found in Stoney Hill with the skelitons and other things.  I shall want 10 shillings for the urns.  I have got 4 heads 2 are Pretty good and 2 are Broaken and some Leg Bones I have got a Bullick face with the horns on it Perfect'.
    June 11  '2 skulls and 2 leg bones and a little broken pot were received by Rolleston.
    July 13  A little urn was found, very deep.
    Aug 3  A skull and some bones were taken to Pond, and sent to Rolleston.  Work stopped until after harvest.
    Sept. 30  2 more urns were received.
    Oct. 16  More relics were found in the previous week 'but I have not got any of them yet there is some Gentleman at Cambridge they give a long Price for them but I shall get all I can and send them to Mr Greenwell'.
    Oct. 28  'I have sent you 3 urns today ... the Bones in the large one was in it when it was found. ... Will you please to let me know if you have sent those things to Canon Greenwell which I sent in your last box ... since I have got some more things for him which I have Bought since found with the skelitons one ring was on the finger bone when found those urns was found with the skelitons they broak the Heads in getting them out'.
    Nov. 30  One skull and a pot containing bones was sent.
    Dec. 28  Another urn, with contents.
    3 of these urns, in the Ashmolean Museum, still contain burnt bones; and there is a quantity of material from inhumation graves - brooches of every variety, especially small-long, wrist clasps, beads, bracelets, bucket escutcheons, etc.  Several of the objects are very early in date, e.g. a window urn, an equal armed small-long brooch, a bronze-gilt belt plate with egg-and-tongue ornament; as also are several disc brooches in the Cambridge Museum.  There are also, however, some late objects, including a debased square-headed brooch.

The same letters are also quoted in 'The Archaeological Impact of the 19th and 20th Century Fossil Diggings' by Bernard O'Connor, where Frederick Pond is described as "somewhat illiterate" and had set himself up as a fossil collector.

Another description of the Anglo-saxon cemetery and Frederick Pond's involvement is contained in 'A History of Haslingfield' by Rev. G E Davis:

    The main part of the cemetery at Haslingfield was revealed by coprolite diggers between 1874 and 1876, though its existence had been recognised some years previous to this, probably as early as 1865.  The finds of bones and grave goods were made in a field known then as "Stoney Hill" by the trackway from Haslingfield village to Cantelupe farm.  Even today the filled-in hollows of the coprolite diggings can be seen in this area just below the crest of the hill.

    Unfortunately the cemetery was completely destroyed by the labourers and the only account of the excavations is to be found in the unpublished correspondence between Frederick Pond, "Collector of Fossils" of Haslingfield and Sir John Rolleston [sic], at that time Professor of Anatomy in the University of Oxford.  Rolleston, who was eager to obtain skeletal material from archaeological sites, bought several skulls, pots and bronze objects from Pond, who evidently spent much of his time at the excavations, picking up what antiquities he could and bribing the workmen to keep for him anything which they found...


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