Long barrows and group of round barrows on Bokerly Down
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1002722
Date first listed: 16-Nov-1950
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: East Dorset (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: SU 03938 19508, SU 04078 19128, SU 04121 19060, SU 04128 18955, SU 04150 18926, SU 04154 18770, SU 04155 19007, SU 04176 18700, SU 04198 18719
Four long barrows, four bowl barrows and an enclosure 865m east of Bokerley 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.
Long barrows were constructed as earthen or drystone mounds with flanking ditches and acted as funerary monuments during the Early and Middle Neolithic periods (3400-2400 BC). They represent the burial places of Britain's early farming communities and, as such, are amongst the oldest field monuments surviving visibly in the present landscape. Where investigated, long barrows appear to have been used for collective burial, often with only parts of the body selected for internment. Certain sites provide evidence for several phases of funerary monument preceding the barrow and, consequently, it is probable that long barrows acted as important ritual sites for local communities over a considerable period of time. On Cranborne Chase, some long barrows occur in groups and some are also associated with other broadly contemporary monument types, such as the Dorset Cursus. Some long barrows within this area also appear to have acted as foci for later Bronze Age round barrow groups which are concentrated within the surrounding areas. Some 500 examples of long barrows and long cairns, their counterparts in the uplands, are recorded nationally. Long barrows are known to occur across Wessex, and the concentration on Cranborne Chase is particularly significant on account of the range of examples present and their archaeological associations. Long barrows, therefore, form an important feature of the Cranborne Chase landscape. As one of the few types of Neolithic structure to survive as earthworks, and due to their comparative rarity, their considerable age and their longevity as a monument type, all long barrows on the Chase are considered to be nationally important.
Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often acted as a focus for burials in later periods. Often superficially similar, although differing widely in size, they exhibit regional variations in form and a diversity of burial practices. Over 10,000 bowl barrows are known to survive nationally, of which a cluster of at least 395 examples has been identified on Cranborne Chase. Some of these have been levelled by ploughing but remain visible from the air as ring ditches. Buried remains will nevertheless survive at these sites, both within the ditch fills and associated with the central burial pit. Bowl barrows are particularly representative of their period, whilst their considerable variation of form and longevity as a monument type will provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape and constitute a significant component of the archaeology of Cranborne Chase. All surviving examples within this area are, therefore, considered to be of national importance.
Despite reduction in the height of the mounds through cultivation and some partial excavation, the four long barrows, four bowl barrows and an enclosure 865m east of Bokerley Farm survive well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to their construction, longevity, interrelationships, relative chronologies, territorial significance, ritual and funerary practices, social organisation, subsequent re-use and overall landscape context.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 17 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, which falls into nine separate areas of protection, includes four long barrows, four bowl barrows and an enclosure situated along a prominent ridge on Bokerley Down. The long barrows survive as roughly rectangular mounds with buried side ditches aligned roughly north west to south east. The southernmost is 80m long, 14m wide and up to 2.4m high with visible side ditches. The northernmost is 29m long, 21m wide and up to 1.2m high, its side ditches are clearly visible on aerial photographs as buried features. This long barrow was excavated by Hoare and Cunnington in the early 19th century. The finds were Anglo-Saxon and related to a 7th century intrusive burial. An extended female skeleton had been interred, possibly laid on a bed, and finds included an ivory ring possibly from a pouch bag, a small hook, a buckle, 2 glass beads, a jet bead, and a millefiori plaque suspended from a chain. The central long barrows are closely associated with the north east terminal of the Dorset Cursus. They are seen by various authors as either two separate long barrows or possibly with the southern barrow being an extension to the northern one thus forming a bank barrow. The northern mound measures 52m long, 16m wide and up to 2.4m high at the southern end. The southern mound measures 88m long, 18m wide and up to 1.3m long at the southern end. The side ditches are preserved as buried features, which seem to be separate, although Atkinson (1955) suggested they were contiguous. The bowl barrows survive as circular mounds surrounded by buried quarry ditches from which the construction material was derived. Three are grouped centrally at the southern end of the central long barrows and the fourth is to the south east of the southernmost long barrow. The mounds vary in size from 14m up to 18m in diameter and from 0.3m up to 1.5m high. At the south western end of the southernmost long barrow is a small square enclosure measuring up to 18.5m long and surviving as a platform surrounded by a slight ditch with no visible entrance.
Further archaeological remains survive in the vicinity, some are scheduled separately but others are not included because they have not been formally assessed.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: DO 144
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
PastScape Monument Nos:-213530, 213535, 213531, 213532, 1313447, 1313459 and 1313506
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing