Round barrow cemetery on East Afton Down


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.

Isle of Wight (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SZ 36512 85778

Reasons for Designation

Round barrow cemeteries date to the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). They comprise closely-spaced groups of up to 30 round barrows - rubble or earthen mounds covering single or multiple burials. Most cemeteries developed over a considerable period of time, often many centuries, and in some cases acted as a focus for burials as late as the early medieval period. They exhibit considerable diversity of burial rite, plan and form, frequently including several different types of round barrow, occasionally associated with earlier long barrows. Where large scale investigation has been undertaken around them, contemporary or later "flat" burials between the barrow mounds have often been revealed. Round barrow cemeteries occur across most of lowland Britain, with a marked concentration in Wessex. In some cases, they are clustered around other important contemporary monuments such as henges. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape, whilst their diversity and their longevity as a monument type provide important information on the variety of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving or partly-surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.

Despite evidence of antiquarian excavation on four of the six barrows, the round barrow cemetery on East Afton Down survives well and will contain archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the cemetery and the landscape in which it was constructed. This barrow cemetery is one of two which survive on the coast on the south western side of the Isle of Wight.


The monument includes a round barrow cemetery comprising one bell barrow, a twin barrow and four bowl barrows. The barrow cemetery lies on the coast on a hill-top position on the south west part of the Isle of Wight. The bell barrow, which lies in the centre of the cemetery, is surrounded by bowl barrows except on its west side where there is a twin barrow lying adjacent to it. The bell barrow has a mound with a diameter of 16m and is 2m high. Surrounding the mound is a berm 2m wide and beyond this a ditch from which material was quarried during the barrow's construction. This has become partly infilled over the years, but survives as a depression 5m wide and 1m deep. The respective mounds of the twin barrow measure 13m and 9.5m north west- south east and the combined length of the two mounds south west-north east is 17.5m. Each mound is 0.5m high. Surrounding both mounds is a ditch from which material was quarried during its construction. This has become partly infilled over the years, but survives as a slight depression 4m wide and 0.5m deep. The four bowl barrows have diameters ranging from 7m to 19.5m and heights of 0.4m to 2m. Surrounding each mound is a ditch from which material was quarried during its construction. Some of these can no longer be seen at ground level but survive as buried features up to 2m wide, while others can be seen as depressions up to 5m wide and 1m deep. Some of the barrows have central depressions indicative of unrecorded antiquarian excavation.

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:
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Books and journals
'Proceedings of the I.O.W. Nat History and Archaeological Soc' in Proceedings of the I.O.W. Nat History and Archaeological Society, (1940), 197-8
'Proceedings of the I.O.W. Nat History and Archaeological Soc' in Proceedings of the I.O.W. Nat History and Archaeological Society, (1940), 1977-8
SMR.No.151 based on personal comment, Isle of Wight County Council, Isle of Wight S.M.R.,
SMR.No.151 field visit by V. Basford, Isle of Wight County Council, Isle of Wight S.M.R.,


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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