Bury Archaeological Group

Est. 1953

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 Shuttleworth Cairn (SD.80551705)

Half a mile north of Whitelow Hill, overlooking Bank Lane, the cairn stood 241m above OD on a North West slope of Harden Moor, with a panorama of the Irwell Valley. It had suffered serious damage from its use for target practice during the Second World War and was due to be bulldozed into a nearby quarry.

B.A.G. was given only a short time in winter to conduct a “rescue” excavation.  A circular cairn measuring 18.5m in diameter which included an enclosing bank had survived to a maximum height of 1.5m. Excavation revealed three possible structural phases.


Phase 1 comprised an empty central inhumation cist, covered with capstones, under a small cairn.  However, a cremation was found under the cist floor. Immediately south of the small cairn, a surface scatter of cremated bone separated it from a shallow pit, containing a cremation with sherds from a collared urn.

Phase 2 saw an enlargement of the central cairn, revetted in places with upright stones, surrounded by a stone “floor”.  A flint scraper and segmented faience bead were found together on the floor, perhaps representing a surface inhumation.

Phase 3 may have been final closure, with a stone capping of earlier features. Food vessel sherds came from either phase 2 or 3.  Unfortunately the ruined condition of the cairn disguised their true location.


Refs: Tyson. N. “Note on a Cairn near Shuttleworth, Bury District of Greater  Manchester". Unpublished note with B.A.G. and Greater Manchester  Archaeological Advisory Service.

Walsh S. L.  “Identity as process: an Archaeological and Osteological  Study of Early Bronze Age Burials in Northern England”. Unpublished   Ph D thesis, Preston: University of Central Lancashire.