Because of the nature of marshland, earthen burials--at least as practiced in the rest of the kingdom--are rare. Most cultures of Greymantle Marsh, either native or established from lands beyond--adopt alternative practices of dealing with the dead, so the ruin of Crown Barrow stands out as unusual when compared to the rest of the nearby region. Though there are educated guesses about its age and origin, and it is still regarded by many locals with a deep sense of reverence, its true history remains unknown. It is assumed that there were once other structures, or at least the beginning of one large structure, in the area, but it hasn't been determined for sure if any of the rocks that remain visible in the surrounding swamp are evidence of such a thing. The barrow is built on the only dry, stable ground in the area, up in a small alcove in the nearby cliffs. Most of the barrow is in the protection of an overhanging cliff face, ringed with tall stone columns and low wall. At a distance, these perimeter structures resemble a crown hidden in the overgrowth. The capstones are decorated with intricate carvings, which remain as one of the greatest clues to the history of the barrow. Scholars have brought back sketches and rubbings of the carvings, but there is no one clear, winning theory behind their creation. A distinct style runs through the entirety of the designs that doesn't match with other known examples of work from the time period, so it is wondered if they are all the work of one unique artist. A similarity to illustrations in certain Infernal texts have led to the theory of this location being the site of a prospective settlement for migrant Tieflings--one of many that failed to thrive in the swamp over the years. The main thing that stands out as strange about the barrow is its size and relative complexity when compared to the lack of evidence of a significant settlement in the area. Normally, gravesites of young migrant settlements turn out to be rather small or primitive, or entirely lost to time. The creation of Crown Barrow would have taken considerable resources, especially in manpower and time. It seems strange that so much effort would have been put toward building an elaborate stonework barrow for the dead without the same sort of attention paid toward other buildings, but perhaps optimism and forward-thinking prompted the leaders to build the barrow to match the loft dreams that they had not successfully built yet. The points that complicate any theory being discussed are the facts that there are dozens of bodies resting in the barrow, and that they were likely interred over a number of years. As the width and breadth of the plot was unalterable, the builders gradually dug down into the earth, laying bodies in a descending spiral over time.
Purpose / Function
Though there are several features of the location whose purposes remain unknown, it is at least confirmed to be a burial location for several dozen bodies. Judging by the elaborate carvings of the stone, its location on the prime spot of earth for construction, and the care with which the bodies were interred, this barrow was of great importance to the builders.
Stone block construction with carved detailing, with the circular arrangement of shallow walls and tall columns giving it its common name. Massive stone overhang forming a sort of sloping, natural ceiling, which remained unaltered. Several smaller stone features and carvings in the back of the "cave" formed by the overhang, some columnar and some tabular, with unknown function. Bodies were interred beneath the floor of the barrow in a descending corkscrew formation.
Unknown construction, but the age predates the construction of Lockhinge City. It is guessed to have been constructed as the central burial site for what was intended to be a prominent settlement or building, but is now all that remains of that failed venture. No clear evidence remains of whatever settlement or structure must have accompanied the barrow, and no known record of it from its active days have ever been found.
Despite being a significant distance from the main road, the mystery of its lost history and the reverent beauty of the ruins that remain draw both scholars and pilgrims. The site has long ago been reclaimed by the wilderness, with overgrowth obscuring all evidence of inhabitance up to the rocky earth of the stone overhang. The natural cover surrounding the relative openness that lies within the "crown" of the barrow, shaded by the overhanging cliff, makes for a popular location for the local wildlife. Beyond the historical significance, the barrow is an excellent site for observing the flora and fauna of the area--however, the dry clearing of the barrow itself is often being used as a den for a rotating cast of larger species of wildlife. As a pilgrimage site, the barrow is occasionally visited by those who have ascribed varying meaning to it. The most common reason for visitation is by those who see it as a lost site of Teiling history, seeking to honor the nameless dead and reclaim a piece of their fractured identity as a people. Other groups have been much more cryptic in their reasons, and some wonder if a cult or two has co-opted the site as a holy place for their rituals.
Barrow / Burial ground