Talk: The Rylestone Log Coffin Burials

Our last talk of the season in May was a treat for those with an interest in local archaeology. Retired archaeology lecturer, Roger Martlew, gave an extremely interesting exploration around ancient burial practices. His talk was entitled, “The Rylstone Bronze Age Log-Coffin Burial and its Regional Significance.” He traced the history of digs at the site and challenged previous theories about Bronze Age dating by reference to dendrochronology and other recent research methods. He compared this burial with similar, better preserved examples in Scandinavia and deduced from their dating that the log coffin burial at Rylstone is of a more recent date than originally thought. Although a more recent date of c.900BC seems likely the coffin had been placed in a Bronze Age mound, possibly respecting more ancient cultural practices and traditions,  at a period of transition and uncertainty at that period in history.

Shapwick – Barrow 1838. Courtesy of Roger Martlew

It was fascinating to see maps of all the recorded  ancient burial sites both locally and countrywide, but even more exciting to see that Google maps had identified many more enigmatic crop circle features in the Wharfe valley which have still to be explored.

As Roger said, “We are left with a lot more questions than we answered,” but that is the mystery and attraction of delving deep into our past.

Banner Image: Bronze Age Burial Mound at Rylstone. Attribution: Roger Martlew