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Thursday, 14 April 2011

Crania Britannica: Delineations and descriptions of the skulls vol 2.

Google books has a copy of Crania Britannica. It is a frustrating read. The first half off the book has been photocopied in such a way that words have gone missing...

Latter on things improve.
But that's much latter on, way past notes on The Sanctuary.

Anyway, I'm still boss eyed so I include just one story from its compendium of wonders.

I will not include the flavor of the book, the information I pass on is separated any speculation of head binding of infants, the author's certainty that skull physiognomy was inked to personality traits, and the author's determined division into savage or noble...I do include another obsession of the book -water voles.


In 1824 William Bateman opened a large barrow on Middleton Moor.

24 years latter, his son, Mr Thomas Bateman, explored a smaller tomb 50 yards to the S.E which had been ignored by his father. One skeleton which had been close to the surface had been destroyed by ploughing.

But a few inches below the level of the natural soil, Thomas found a small cist.

Inside was the skeleton of a woman, possibly about 40 years, old laid on the floor on her left side, with her knees drawn up. A child had been placed above her, and rather behind her shoulders, and the skeletons were literally surrounded by the bones of water voles; generations of which had used the barrow for hibernation.

Close to the woman was a cow's tooth and a beautiful jet necklace.



The jet necklace may be displayed at  a Sheffield museum?

I don't know.

Nor does Crania Britannica describe the infant. It concerns itself (as you would guess from the book's title) with the skull, but only with the skull of the woman. There is a fracture of the right cheek bone and at the outer edge of her right eye. Crania Britanica does not hazard a guess about if this happened after death or before.

I'm used to all the books I want to buy costing at least £50, but Crania out does them all!

Frustrating though it is that the online book does not contain all the images (let alone all the words) it is better than nothing; I can easily ignore  the useless phrenology. The book is full of pictures of burial mounds and drawings made at the time of excavation; plus details of what was found.

So much information like this lies in obscure libraries, leaving us Robinsonners with nothing but The Modern Antiquarian and English Heritage ~sigh.