Minninglow chambered cairn is the largest and most prominently sited cairn in the Derbyshire Peak District, 2km to the west of Aldwark. Surrounded by a beech plantation 500m to the east of The High Peak Trail between the villages of Parwich and Elton, it is a landmark for miles around. Measuring 34m by 44m, the cairn consists of at least four chambers and has undergone a number of construction phases.
This Derbyshire Low originally began life as a single chamber with a small mound comprised mainly of limestone probably during the Neolithic period. It was later covered by a long cairn with four chambers and later still converted into a massive circular mound, perhaps during the Bronze Age.
Several of the burial chambers in the region were opened as early as the Roman period when looting became fashionable as the Romano-British villa owners went in search of curios to decorate their houses. Evidence suggests that Minninglow may have been one of these for when Thomas Bateman excavated the site in the 1840s and 1850s, as well as finding a human skeleton he also discovered Roman pottery and coins, dating from the 4th century AD. This should come as no surprise because the main Roman road, which ran from Buxton to Carsington within a few hundred metres of Arbor Low, also went straight past Minninglow.
By the early 1970s, following Bateman’s excavations and earlier robbing by wall builders in the 18th century, the site was in such a dilapidated state that it was decided to carry out work to clear out the rubble. In 1973 and 1974 Barry Marsden undertook investigations in all four of the chambers. Having been greatly disturbed and robbed in the past, the main aim was to establish how each chamber was constructed. However the excavations did produced a small amount of finds including a few fragments of Beaker ware, numerous shards of Romano-British pottery, several adult and human bones, part of an Early Bronze Age bronze ear-ring and nine bronze Roman coins most of which dated to the 4th century AD.
A further excavation by persons unknown was undertaken in 1978 to 1979. They dug beneath the passage walls and in two of the chambers, leaving the monument in such a dangerous state that it had to be filled with quarry waste to prevent collapse.