Tuesday, February 22, 2022

A Buried Book

Archaeologist Alan Hardy describes a find that emerged during the excavation of a long barrow in the Berkshire Downs:
A book was found within deposit 3001, located immediately south of the southern ditch section, and approximately 0.23 m below the present ground. The book was a buckram bound copy of Demonology and Witchcraft by Walter Scott, published in 1831 (Plate 4.5). The inside front cover was daubed with red ink and crudely inscribed with the words 'Demon de Uffing'. Some decay was evident to the cover and the edges of the pages although it was generally in very good condition. Its state of preservation may well have been due to the surrounding matrix of chalk and soil, which maintained a dry environment. The excavator was confident that the ground around the location of the book's burial had not been recently disturbed, and therefore a pre-excavation joke by persons unknown was ruled out. In theory the book could have been deposited during the 19th-century excavations, but it is more likely that its burial is related to one of the more recent revivals in the mystical aspects of the White Horse and its surroundings.

D. Miles et al., Uffington White Horse and Its Landscape: Investigations at White Horse Hill, Uffington, 1989-95, and Tower Hill, Ashbury, 1993-4
Related posts:
Up in the Downs
The Lay of the Hunted Pig

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