Tarrant Launceston: Survey and excavation of a long barrow with secondary burial at Race Down.

Authors: Manley, H.P., Evans, D., Hewitt, I., Phurphy, P., Russell, M. and Welham, K.

Journal: Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society

Volume: 138

Publisher: Dorset natural History and Archaeological Society


In March 2003, it was noted that rabbit burrowing had uncovered possible human remains close to the centre of Race Down long barrow. In order to determine whether the bones were human and/or of forensic interest, the School of Conservation Sciences (now the Department of Archaeology, Anthropology & Forensic Science), Bournemouth University, carried out a limited investigation on behalf of Dorset Police and the landowner, Defence Estates. The spoil heap of the rabbit burrow was excavated and this process revealed other displaced human bones, including long bones. A human osteologist examined the recovered bones and determined that the burial was ancient. Based upon results of the initial investigation, Dorset Police concluded that, although the remains were human, they would not be carrying out a criminal investigation due to the antiquity of the remains.

In March 2004, a small excavation team from Bournemouth University returned to the site to fully recover any in situ human remains, together with recording the burial context and stratigraphy. A wider topographic survey of the long barrow was also carried out. This paper reports on the results of this field survey and excavation.


Source: Manual