Bronze Age Finds in Coatshill

In 1939, the farmer at Coatshill Farm, Blantyre ploughing the then empty fields found something of interest which proved as old as Christ himself! The 2000 year old discovery was found in what is now the garden of 11 Bellairs Place, Coatshill.

A very detailed description of a Stone Cist (or coffin) and Bronze age Urn found near the lower reaches of the Coatshill Farm Blantyre, was left to us which is presented here:

During the last week of April, 1939, Mr. Jackson, Jr., of Coatshill Farm, Blantyre, was ploughing by motor tractor in a field about 200 yards north of the farm steading. The field in question rose in the centre to an elevation commanding a wide view of the surrounding countyside. It was on the high ground that the tractor operated by Mr Andrew Jackson was damaged through striking a large stone.

Some days later, accompanied by Mr. R. Dickson, Bothwell, a relative of the farmer, Mr Jackson proceeded to remove the obstruction when they found beneath it the four upright stone slabs of a stone cist.

Then they discovered, standing upright about the centre of the chamber, a small urn which was so fragile it started to break upon touch, and was broken in course of its removal.

An archaeologist in 1939 wrote, “The drumlin consists of a body of fine sand which being interlayered with thin veins of coal has proved quite unsuitable for building or industrial purposes but is admirably adapted for agricultural uses. The stones forming the cist had been removed from the site but were re-erected by Mr. Jackson and Mr. Dickson who had taken rough measurements before dismantling. The chamber was about 30 inches long inside and the width tapered from 24 to 21 inches. The depth was approximately 20 inches. The long axis lay almost due north and south the narrow end of the cist being towards the north. The stones were all of red sandstone, native to the district, the smallest being that at the north end which was inset between the two side slabs. The stone at the south end overlapped the west side slab and overlay a corner of the east side.

The thickness of the slabs varied from 3 1/2 to 6 inches. The lower corners of the chamber were packed with rounded cobble stones. The appearance of the cist was unimpressive, the stones being but indifferently dressed. The bottom of the cist was on a bed of sand blackened with one of the coal-veins referred to. The top slab was much shattered by the tractor, but it, also, had been but readely fitting as the tomb was full of surface loam and sand. No archaic sculpterings were discernible on any of the slabs. Bones were encountered but said to be so fragile that they powdered to dust on being touched. The urn was a small clay pot of the food-vessel type, hand-made, dark, reddish-brown in colour and of simple form and decoration. It is of wide mouth and is somewhat smaller in height than in its diameter. The walls are comparitively thin.

The principal dimensions of the vessel are:-

Outside rim diameter – 7 inches
Inside – 5 3/2 inches
Height – 5 1/2 inches
Diameter of base – 3 1/4 inches

The exterior is divided into three zones by two ridges carried round the upper part of the vessel. The neckband is curved and about 3/4 inch deep, below which the middle zone is likewise curved and about 1 1/4 inches in depth. From the second ridge the outside slopes steeply down to a flat base.

The decoration throughout, though slight, is artistic and effective. A sharp-pointed tool had been used to make single impressions resembling a small triangle in the clay, when soft, and this simple motif has been utilised throughout, only the formation of the pattern of the impressions being varied. In the neck ring a double row of markings is quite regularly and symmetrically spaced.

Every fourth mark on the lower row has been utilised as the apex point of an inverted V-shaped decoration on the mid-panel, each side of the consisting of four impressions, the lowest of which falls on the lower ridge around the vessel.

On the lowest and largest zone a rough diamond-shaped pattern is carried out, one apex falling on the centre ridge and the opposite about one inch from the base of the vessel. Although the vessel was badly broken on recovery I am indebted to Dr. Stuart M.K. Henderson, Kelvingrove Art Galleries for a very painstaking and competent reconstruction.”

1939 Bronze age Urn found at Coatshill

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