Barrow on Parsonage Hill
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1002783
Date first listed: 24-Mar-1958
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: East Dorset (District Authority)
Parish: Gussage St. Michael
National Grid Reference: ST 98128 11374
Long barrow 330m west of The Old Rectory.
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. 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 because of the range of examples present and their archaeological associations. Long barrows are an important feature of the Cranborne Chase landscape as one of the few types of Neolithic structure to survive as earthworks. Despite reduction in the height of the mound through cultivation and damage by a road the long barrow 330m west of The Old Rectory survives comparatively 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.
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 includes a long barrow situated on the summit of an asymmetrical ridge called Parsonage Hill the watershed between the Gussage and Crichel valleys, two tributaries to the River Allen. The barrow survives as an elongated mound measuring 32m long by 23m wide and up to 1.4m high at the southern end and 0.7m high to the north with visible side and southern end ditches of up to 9m wide and 0.6m deep. The northern part of the barrow has been cut by a road. To the south of the mound there is a substantial gap between the end ditches.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: DO 293
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
PastScape Monument No:-210041
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