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Historic England Research Records

Cross Hill

Hob Uid: 319553
Location :
Willoughby on the Wolds
Grid Ref : SK6492025200
Summary : Mound, partly excavated in 1947-8 and found to contain three skeletons, a medieval ring, Roman coins and pottery. Claimed to be the site of a Roman signal station. Probably the site of a medieval gallows. Now destroyed. The original excavations were so poorly recorded that little information other than the facts above can be interpretted from the excavation reports, which made exagerrated claims.
More information : (SK 64922520) Tumulus (NR) (1)

"... called Cross Hill". (2)

Cross Hill tumulus was excavated for the Ministry of Works by
Professor F M Heichelheim and a party from Nottingham University and city in 1947-8; most of the work and recording being done apparently by Mr R H Wildgoose. According to the surviving papers (3) which include both plans and regular reports, the excavation turned up three skeletons and some other bones in the upper part of the mound (but without dating material), various pottery sherds (one or two Samian), and a few animal bones, some aggregations of stones (one of which was thought to be the old Foss Way), 2 Constantinian coins, and one of Constans and a medieval signet ring. The mound was not apparently excavated very deeply, and it is doubtful if the old turf-line was reached in more than a few places; nor does there seem to have been any attempt to interpret the 'tumulus' itself. There was also some reconnaissance and trial digging in the adjacent fields. One feature, the 'Western Ditch', from which the two Constantine coins and some Samian fragments came, does, however, seem to have been Romano-British.
See Plan. But in spite of results which the collected papers clearly
show to be fairly trivial the following claims are made in the only
published report (4):

(a) There was in the centre of the mound, an oval Roman structure which Professor C F C Hawkes considers to have been a signal tower, which was 'burnt down in the Boadicean revolt'. (?The Central Structure').

(b) A second signal tower somewhat to the east replaced the first.

(c) Roman occupation of the whole field was proved by pottery
from an exploratory trench and from a cattle pond. (that SK 648252).

(d) The probability of a Roman camp just to the west of
the tumulus was suggested by symmetrical dips in the road at Willougby and other physical details and vegetation changes.

(e) There was a small Roman house of Basilica type which was probably burnt down 'in the well-known invasion of the Picts and Scots in 367 AD'.

(f) Of the two main skeletons in the upper part of the mound
one was probably Romano-British and the other Danish or Anglo-Saxon.

(g) A post-hole approximately central to the mound was dated
by medieval pottery sherds and probably held a gallows.

The general worthlessness of these pretentious claims is well
illustrated by the preliminary report (supplement to Progress Report 6 in the collected papers) on the silver signet ring (eventually dated to 15th-16th c by the BM and connected with a local family called Brett):
"The signet is inscribed IOVES BRET in lettering characteristic
of the 3rd and 4th centuries AD....this is opus interglasara which is
characteristic of the style of the period 200-400 AD and dates the
ring with certainty .... the ring being of silver points to its
use by a non-Roman or freedman, gold would be used by a free-born Roman only......The words IOVES BRET, ie Jovis Britannici, the E for I being a late Roman orthographic peculiarity, are a genitivus possessivus, they mean property of or in the name of Jupiter Britannia...." (and more in the same strain).

The only concrete conclusions to be drawn from the collected papers
are that the mound once probably held a gallows, that there were
casual interments (no doubt connected with this; for evidence of
the burial of murderers and suicides in similar circumstances see
TL 16 NE 4) in its upper part, and that there was Roman occupation
in the area. There is nothing in them to indicate what
Professor Hawkes saw, and whether he thought it was a Signal Tower is
open to question. (3)(4)

Stukely mentions the annual festival held at the Crosshill Tumulus; no details are given, but local information suggests that a cross of turf was cut out of the Tumulus during the ceremonies. (This either accounts for the name or is an invention pretending to). (5)

The mound is now entirely destroyed by road-widening work. (6)

The site of this former mound now falls in the north-bound
carriage-way of the A46, known as the Foss Way. (7)

According to McWhirr (a) pottery, including Samian wares, from the unpublished excavation of 1948 are of mid 2nd century or later and are not Flavian as originally reported.
(See SK 62 NW 7 and SK 62 SW 1 for references to Vernemetum Roman settlement.) (8)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1922
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Source Number : 2
Source details : Itinerarium Curiosum 2nd Ed 1776 106 (W Stukeley)
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Source Number : 3
Source details : Willougby on the Wolds 1947 a file of collected papers on the excavation in the possession of Nottingham University.
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Source Number : 4
Source details : Peverel Arch Gp Report 1951 25-26
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Source Number : 5
Source details : Willoughby on the Wolds Arch Rept No 1 1965 'Anglian Graveyard 7
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Source Number : 6
Source : Aerial photograph
Source details : OS 68-028 017 8.4.68
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Source Number : 7
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 BHS 27-JAN-75
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Source Number : 8
Source details : Smith, R F, 1987. Roadside Settlements in Lowland Roman Britain. BAR British Series 157. Oxford: BAR (288)
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Source Number : 8a
Source : Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society
Source details : A McWhirr
Page(s) : 6
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 45, 1969-70
Source Number : 9
Source : A gazetteer of early Anglo-Saxon burial sites
Source details :
Page(s) : 200
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Vol(s) :

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Roman
Monument End Date : 410
Monument Start Date : 43
Monument Type : Findspot
Evidence : Find
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Medieval
Monument End Date : 1540
Monument Start Date : 1066
Monument Type : Post Hole, Gallows
Evidence : Documentary Evidence, Conjectural Evidence, Find
Monument Period Name : Uncertain
Display Date :
Monument End Date :
Monument Start Date :
Monument Type : Inhumation, Mound
Evidence : Find, Documentary Evidence

Components and Objects:
Period : Roman
Component Monument Type : Findspot
Object Type : COIN, VESSEL
Object Material : Pottery
Period : Medieval
Component Monument Type : Post Hole, Gallows
Object Type : FINGER RING
Object Material :

Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SK 62 NW 5
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 319559
Relationship type : General association

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, CROSS HILL BROUGHTON LODGE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1947-01-01
End Date : 1948-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SK 62 NW 5
Start Date : 1975-01-27
End Date : 1975-01-27