Mortuary enclosure 900m NNW of Octagon Farm: part of a Neolithic and Bronze Age mortuary complex
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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This copy shows the entry on 15-Aug-2020 at 20:43:35.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Bedford (Unitary Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- TL 09114 50322
Reasons for Designation
Neolthic and Bronze Age mortuary complexes date to the period between c4000 and c700 BC. Typically they are set within topographically defined areas, perhaps between rivers or valleys, and sometimes their topographical boundaries are emphasised by ditch systems. Within the defined area such complexes comprise closely spaced groups of features of different types, later types of features often being superimposed on earlier ones, indicating continuity of use over a long period of time. Features found on such sites include round barrows, which can take a variety of forms, of which bowl barrows are the most common. Such barrows were earthen or stone mounds covering a burial or group of burials. Such barrows were usually surrounded by a circular ditch from which material for the construction of the mound was obtained. These circular ditches are often visible through aerial photography when the mound no longer shows as an earthwork and are frequently classified as 'ring-ditches'. Burials on such sites, however, are not confined to the barrows and 'flat-burials' have often been discovered in between them. Also found on such sites are a variety of enclosures, sometimes referred to as morturary enclosures. There are often square or rectangular in plan but round-ended and even sub-circular examples are known. They are usually defined by a bank and external ditch and sometimes have opposed entrances. Their original function is uncertain but it is presumed that they were employed in the burial ritual and in subsequent commemorations. Neoltihic and Bronze Age mortuary complexes often also include other classes of ceremonial monuments such as cursuses (which were elongated embanked enclosures which probably served as ceremonial routeways) and henges (which were major circular earthworks which probably served as gathering places. A small number of such complexes have individual components surviving as earthworks but the majority are cropmark sites which are known from aerial photography and which survive only as buried features below the ploughsoil. They provide important evidence for the diversity of beliefs and social organisation amongst Early Prehistoric communities and all examples where significant archaeological deposits remain are considered to be of national importance. Partial excavation of the mortuary enclosure 900m NNW of Octagon Farm has confirmed its location and demonstrated the survival, in good condition, of important structures and deposits below the ploughsoil. Only a small part of the monument has been affected by the trial excavation and the major proportion of significant archaeological deposits will survive intact. The ditches and other features within the monument will retain archaeological information and environmental evidence relating to the monument and to the landscape in which it was constructed. The site is of additional importance because of its association with the large mortuary complex 50m to the south. It will provide additional information regarding the continuity and evolution of Prehistoric funerary practices in this area.
The monument includes a rectangular enclosure initially recorded from aerial
photographs and situated between the River Great Ouse and the Elstow Brook,
south-east of Bedford. The monument is visible on aerial photographs as an
approximately square enclosure surrounded by a ditch which measures 30m east-
west by 30m north-south. A causeway, 2.5m wide, is situated on its eastern
boundary. A trial trench was excavated in 1990 which revealed that the ditch
was U-shaped in section, approximately 0.5m in depth and varied between 2.7m
and 0.75m in width. Postholes were identified with the enclosure.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 5 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
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