Bell barrow and four bowl barrows 285m north west of Avenue Lodge.
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. Bell barrows, the most visually impressive form of round barrow, are funerary monuments dating to the Early and Middle Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 1500-1100 BC. They occur either in isolation or in round barrow cemeteries and were constructed as single or multiple mounds covering burials, often in pits, and surrounded by an enclosure ditch. The burials are frequently accompanied by weapons, personal ornaments and pottery and appear to be those of aristocratic individuals, usually men. Bell barrows are rare nationally, with less than 250 known examples, most of which are in Wessex. Their richness in terms of grave goods provides evidence for chronological and cultural links amongst early prehistoric communities over most of southern and eastern England as well as providing an insight into their beliefs and social organisation. Bowl barrows are the most numerous form of round barrow 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. At least 395 examples have 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. They are a major historic element in the modern landscape and constitute a significant component of the archaeology of Cranborne Chase. Despite some reduction in the heights of the mounds through past excavation and cultivation the bell barrow and four bowl barrows 285m north west of Avenue Lodge survive well and will contain further archaeological and environmental evidence relating to their construction, relative chronologies, territorial significance, social organisation, ritual and funerary practices and overall landscape context.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 21 December 2015. This 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.
This monument, which falls into five areas, includes a bell barrow and four bowl barrows situated on a wide gently sloping plateau overlooking the valley of the River Allen. The barrows form a dispersed group. The bell barrow survives as a circular mound of 19m in diameter and 1m high with a buried ditch and no berm discernible from the surface remains. It was excavated in 1959 and finds included the remains of a probable funeral pyre with ashes and burnt bone with an adjacent rectangular pit containing the cremated remains of a young adult male, some of the bones conjoined with those in the pyre. A dagger was placed above the bones and originally was held in a sheath, along with a perforated whetstone, some bone tweezers and a bone pin. Flint flakes were discovered in the surrounding quarry ditch with some Romano British pottery and some Beaker pottery and animal bone was recovered from the mound itself. The excavation revealed the original berm connected with the mound. The remaining bowl barrows survive as circular mounds surrounded by buried quarry ditches from which the construction material was derived. The mounds vary in size from 30m up to 32m in diameter and from 1.4m up to 2.5m high. Two of the mounds have flattened tops. The northernmost apparently was re-used as an air raid shelter during the Second World War when a small chamber was dug into the southern side. All except the bell barrow lie within the Grade II* Registered Park of ‘St Giles’ House’. Further archaeological remains in the vicinity are scheduled separately.