On the skyline above the town, Solomon’s Tower marks the site of Grin Low Barrow, where people of the Bronze Age buried their dead.
The barrow was excavated in 1894 by local antiquarians William and Micah Salt.
It is carefully made of concentric rings of angled slabs. Inside were the remains of four human skeletons (A, B, C and D). Stone boxes (cists) protected the heads of burials A and B, and at D the remains were in a shallow rock-cut grave. There were also two human cremations (E and G). At E a cist held the cremated remains of a child along with a flint blade. The people were buried with a variety of objects. These include the teeth and burnt bones of animals, a pot, flint tools and a slate whetstone.
Flint tools found with interment ‘D’, now at Buxton Museum, and as illustrated in 1899 in ‘Ancient remains near Buxton’.
The whereabouts of this beautiful pot are lost.
What are round barrows?
From around 4000 years ago, in the Bronze Age, local communities built their own barrow mounds where they buried their dead. We know of over 500 barrows across the Peak District.
Many round barrows probably began as open areas ringed with stones or wooden fences. Here bodies were left to decay in the open and the bones were later removed or buried. After several burials, a mound was usually built on top. Sometimes people built stone boxes (cists) to protect further remains placed inside the barrow.
Few people received a barrow burial, although it is not clear why they were chosen. They include all ages and both sexes and probably came from ordinary farming families as well as high status groups.
An opportune moment
In 1895 John Ward described how the excavation of Grin Low barrow came about. It seems the building of Solomon’s Temple on top of the mound 60 years earlier had masked its shape until, at the time of writing, it had become ‘a mere heap of stones’. The outline of the barrow was revealed and in 1894 father and son team Micah and William Salt decided to investigate.
By June of 1896 however, a committee had raised funds for the rebuilding of the tower as an attraction for Buxton’s burgeoning tourist trade and the foundation stone had been laid for a new Solomon’s Temple on top of the burial mound. The discovery and excavation of the barrow was a fortunate case of the right people being there at the right time.
Set high above Buxton to the South, Grin Low country park provides a green and wooded space where people can stretch their legs and enjoy panoramic views of Buxton and the Derbyshire countryside.
Its landmark features are evidence of a long history of human activity. Solomon’s Temple is an iconic 19th century folly which can be seen on the skyline from miles around. The Temple was built on the remains of a Bronze Age burial mound. The surrounding mounds and hollows are relics of limestone quarrying and burning on a huge scale from the mid-17th century, which once made this area an eyesore. Nowadays Grin Low is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest because of the wildflowers and wildlife that flourish here.