Disc barrow W of Harley Gap, Gussage Down


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1002709

Date first listed: 14-Dec-1926


Ordnance survey map of Disc barrow W of Harley Gap, Gussage Down
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Dorset

District: East Dorset (District Authority)

Parish: Gussage St. Michael

National Grid Reference: SU 00142 13588


Disc barrow 1045m WSW of Wyke Farm.

Reasons for Designation

Cranborne Chase is an area of chalkland well known for its high number, density and diversity of archaeological remains. These include a rare combination of Neolithic and Early Bronze Age sites, comprising one of the largest concentrations of burial monuments in England, the largest known cursus (a linear ritual monument) and a significant number and range of henge monuments (Late Neolithic ceremonial centres). Other important remains include a variety of enclosures, settlements, field systems and linear boundaries which date throughout prehistory and into the Romano-British and medieval periods. This high level of survival of archaeological remains is due largely to the later history of the Chase. Cranborne Chase formed a Royal Hunting Ground from at least Norman times, and much of the archaeological survival within the area resulted from associated laws controlling land-use which applied until 1830. The unique archaeological character of the Chase has attracted much attention over the years, notably during the later 19th century, by the pioneering work on the Chase of General Pitt-Rivers, Sir Richard Colt Hoare and Edward Cunnington, often regarded as the fathers of British archaeology. Archaeological investigations have continued throughout the 20th century and to the present day.

Disc barrows are Bronze Age burial monuments. They belong to the Early Bronze Age, with most examples dating to the period 1400-1200 BC. They occur either in isolation, or in round barrow cemeteries. Disc barrows were constructed as a circular or oval area of level ground defined by a bank and internal ditch and containing one or more central or eccentrically located small, low mounds covering burials, usually in pits. Earthwork remains that survive are usually very slight, and thus highly vulnerable to damage. The burials, normally cremations, are frequently accompanied by pottery vessels, tools and personal ornaments. It has been suggested that disc barrows were normally used for the burial of women, although this remains unproven. However, it is likely that the individuals were of high status. Disc barrows are rare nationally, with about 250 examples identified, many occurring within Wessex and at least 12 examples known on Cranborne Chase. Their richness in terms of grave goods provides important evidence for chronological and cultural links amongst prehistoric communities over a wide area of southern England, as well as providing an insight into their beliefs and social organisation.

The disc barrow 1045m WSW of Wyke Farm survives well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, longevity, territorial significance, social organisation, funerary and ritual practices and overall landscape context.


See Details.


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 15 December 2015. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

The monument includes a disc barrow situated just to the WNW of the ‘Harley Gap’ in the Ackling Dyke Roman road on the ridge known as Gussage Down. The disc barrow survives as a circular enclosed area measuring approximately 46m in diameter defined by a 4.5m wide and 0.2m deep ditch with a 5.5m wide and 0.5m high outer bank. In the interior are two conjoined circular mounds extending from the centre to the south east and each measures 13.5m in diameter and 0.5m high. Chance finds in 1954 of Bronze Age pottery sherds in molehills on the top of both the mounds and Romano-British sherds near their bases on the northern side have been made. It is closely associated with a range of other surviving monuments.

Further archaeological remains in the vicinity are scheduled separately.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: DO 80

Legacy System: RSM - OCN


PastScape Monument No:-213763

End of official listing