A henge, four Bronze Age barrows and part of a Roman road 500m south west of Fox Covert


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
Bishops Cannings
National Grid Reference:
SU 07060 68296

Reasons for Designation

A small number of areas in southern England appear to have acted as foci for ceremonial and ritual activity during the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age periods. Two of the best known and earliest recognised, with references in the 17th century, are around Avebury and Stonehenge, now jointly designated as a World Heritage Site. In the Avebury area, the henge monument itself, the West Kennet Avenue, the Sanctuary, West Kennet long barrow, Windmill Hill causewayed enclosure and the enigmatic Silbury Hill are well-known. Whilst the other Neolithic long barrows, the many Bronze Age round barrows and other associated sites are less well-known, together they define one of the richest and most varied areas of Neolithic and Bronze Age ceremonial and ritual monuments in the country.

Henges are ritual or ceremonial centres which date to the Late Neolithic period (2800-2000 BC). They were constructed as roughly circular or oval- shaped enclosures comprising a flat area over 20m in diameter enclosed by a ditch and external bank. One, two or four entrances provided access to the interior of the monument which may have included a variety of features including timber or stone circles, post or stone alignments, pits, burials or central mounds. Finds from the ditches or interiors provide important evidence for the chronological development of the sites, the types of activity that occurred within them and the nature of the environment in which they were built. Henges are rare nationally with about 80 known examples. As one of the few types of identified Neolithic structures and in view of their comparative rarity, all henges are considered to be of national importance. 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. As a particularly rare form of round barrow, all identified examples would normally be considered to be of national importance. Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period 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. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in modern landscapes and their considerable variation of form and longevity as a monument type provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisations amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection. Roman roads, an important legacy of the Roman period, are communication routes built between important military and civilian centres in Roman Britain. They were built following the Claudian Invasion of AD 43 and many have continued in use during the medieval period and up to the present day. Many Roman roads have been buried beneath, or replaced by, modern road carriageways and may only survive as routes which can be followed on modern roads. In some cases, well preserved examples containing both the `agger' (carriageway) and flanking ditches will survive where the route went out of use with the end of the Roman period or where new routes superseded them. The henge, bell barrow, three bowl barrows and section of Roman road 500m south west of Fox Covert include a number of examples of rare monument classes and provide an unusual combination of monuments from a number of periods. The monuments all survive despite the reduction, by cultivation, of several of the bowl barrows and the henge, and all will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to their construction and the landscape in which they were built.


The monument includes an enclosure considered to be a henge, four Bronze Age round barrows and part of a Roman road on West Down, 500m south west of Fox Covert. The site is situated on a south east facing slope which looks towards the Beckhampton round barrow cemeteries. The henge was first recorded in 1743 by William Stukeley and is shown on a plan in his book `Abury a Temple of the British Druids'. Although it has now been levelled by cultivation, it survives as a buried oval ditch defining an area 66m east-west and 58m north-south. There is a break in the north east side of this circuit, visible on aerial photographs, which appears to be the entrance. The four Bronze Age round barrows run in a rough line, from north east to south west, along the contour of the slope. They include three examples of bowl barrows and a rare bell barrow. The most north easterly of the group is a plough-levelled bowl barrow, no longer visible at ground level but which survives buried below the ground surface. The surrounding ditch, which is visible on aerial photographs, defines a total area of 15m across. This has been interpreted as the site of the barrow known as `The Bard's Barrow' to antiquarian researchers. The next barrow to the south west is a bowl barrow which survives as a low mound 19m in diameter and 0.3m high. The mound was originally much higher but has been reduced by cultivation over the years. Surrounding this mound, but no longer visible at ground level, is a quarry ditch from which material was obtained during the construction of the barrow. This has become infilled over the years but will survive as a buried feature c.2.5m wide. The second barrow from the south west is a tree-covered bell barrow. This barrow survives well despite having been partially damaged by cultivation on its east side. The mound measures 28m across and stands up to 2.2m high. Surrounding the mound is a flat berm, c.3.5m high, which survives best on the west side of the barrow, and an outer quarry ditch which has become partially infilled over the years. This survives as a shallow surface feature 2m wide and 0.3m deep. A line of mature trees stands on the inner edge of the ditch on the east side of the barrow and the ditch and berm beyond this have been levelled by ploughing in the past. The south western barrow is no longer visible at ground level except as a chalk spread, 14m across, surrounded by a 2m wide soilmark which represents the ditch. This is only visible immediately after ploughing. The northern part of this barrow is overlain by the visible earthwork of a Roman road which runs east to west across the site. The Roman road from Speen to Bath runs across West Down as a linear earthwork, visible in a number of places, including the section which runs through this group of barrows. The road is formed of a number of layers of carriageway material between two flanking ditches and would have provided a rapid means of moving soldiers or trade goods from east to west. This was part of a much larger network of roads which were built in the period following the Roman invasion of Britain. The line of the road at this point now forms the boundary between the parishes of Bishops Cannings and Avebury. Excluded from the scheduling is the fenceline running along the parish boundary on the line of the Roman road, but the ground beneath it is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 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:


Books and journals
Grinsell, L V, The Victoria History of the County of Wiltshire, (1957), 222
Grinsell, L V, The Victoria History of the County of Wiltshire, (1957), 222
Stukeley, W, Abury: A Temple of the British Druids, with Some Others, Described, (1743), 16, 26
SU 06 NE 142, RCHM(E), Bowl barrow, (1973)
SU 06 NE 142, RCHM(E), Southern extremity of a round barrow, (1967)
SU 06 NE 150, RCHM(E), Roman Road 53, (1967)
SU 06 NE 41 A, RCHM(E), Ploughed out bowl barrow, (1973)
SU 06 NE 41 B, RCHM(E), Bowl barrow, Avebury 7, (1973)
SU 06 NE 41 C, RCHM(E), Bell barrow, Avebury 8a, (1973)
SU 06 NE 42, RCHM(E), Bishops Cannings 95, (1967)
SU06NE312, CAO, Roman Road from Spleen to Bath, (1983)
SU06NE601, CAO, Site of barrow part overlaid by Roman Road, (1983)
SU06NE616, CAO, Ring Ditch, possibly a henge, (1979)
SU06NE651, CAO, Bowl barrow, (1983)
SU06NE652, CAO, Bowl barrow, ploughed, (1983)
SU06NE653, CAO, Bell barrow damaged by ploughing, (1983)
SU06NE666, CAO, Bowl barrow with outer bank, the Bard's barrow, (1983)
Title: Sheet SU 06 NE 1:10000 Source Date: 1981 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: NGR 0768


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

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