tumulus – n. a barrow
Classical Usage: Reading the first three chapter of The Return of the Native was a lot like diving into a foreign novel. An untranslated foreign novel. I kept my finger firmly planted in the book’s glossary and felt like I was reading more definitions than actual text. Somehow that didn’t keep me from missing a few words that I didn’t understand. Barrow, for instance. I just made some hilly assumption and plunged forward onto the heath. Then I got to the word tumulus and flipped to my trusty guide only to find the above definition.
So, in case you’re still wandering lost around the dark heath I’ll define those words for you. They are burial mounds. Sheds a whole new light, or maybe more accurately, casts a whole new shadow on Blackbarrow, doesn’t it?
Speaking of confusing barrow/tumulus related things: my book, based on the original serial edition of the story calls the location Blackbarrow, but both the free kindle version and the audiobook refer to the dismal hill as Rainbarrow. That’s not the only difference between Hardy’s first and later editions, but we’ll talk about the others a different day.
Classically Mad Usage: Are you kidding? I barely survived the Classical Usage of these words, I can’t imagine trying to work this into everyday language, although we do have a park downtown on some old Native American burial mounds, I guess I could start referring to them as barrows, and when people look at me strange I could say, “You know, those tumuluses down by the river.”