The Soulton Long Barrow, situated on farmland at Soulton Hall has been handcrafted by the team behind the UK’s reintroduction of an ancient way of celebrating life and cherishing a life ritual.
Sacred Stones and Tim Ashton (whose family farms at Soulton Hall) have worked together on the project for three years.
Collaboratively, they created a handcrafted venue to provide the local community with a secular venue for commemoration, education and performance. The barrow provides secure spaces, called niches, for cremation urns. Families can host funerals at the barrow, and unlike crematoriums without time restrictions, or queues. Britain’s earliest farmers used barrows to respect their dead and as a focal point for community.
Toby Angel, managing director of Sacred Stones, said: “Working with academics from Cambridge University we understand barrows were an integral part of community life. They would have been a theatre for union, creation and of course a sacred space to venerate the dead. We echo the community value our early ancestors cherished by providing these unique venues.
“The build is exciting. People came, saw and decided it was for them, expressing the desire to play a part in the construction of their niches (the space which holds the cremation urns). The support has been humbling, some 20 to 25 percent of niches in the first chamber have already been chosen.”
The Long Barrow will be built in three phases. The first of which, the principal chamber, has already been completed, with families ready to make use of their niches. Construction has been done by hand using natural limestone and lime mortar. By spring next year the mound of earth covering the building will have wild flowers and meadow grass.
Ashton added: “We have been bowled over by the support offered by our community. It is truly humbling. We knew this would provide much needed support for people at a difficult time in their lives, and this has been evidenced by the number of families who’ve chosen to use the barrow.”