Reasons for Designation
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. Where investigated, long barrows
appear to have been used for communal burial, often with only parts of the
human remains having been selected for interment. 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. Some 500 long
barrows are recorded in England. As one of the few types of Neolithic
structure to survive as earthworks, and due to their comparative rarity, their
considerable age and their longevity as a monument type, all long barrows are
considered to be nationally important.
Nympsfield long barrow survives well and is known from partial excavation to
contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the monument and
the landscape in which it was constructed. This barrow is a well known and
good example of a long barrow in the group (of long barrows) commonly referred
to as the Cotswold Severn group, named after the region in which they occur.
This is one of very few oval long barrows which belong to the group.
The monument includes a chambered long barrow situated on the western edge of
a limestone plateau overlooking the valley of the River Severn to the west and
The monument, which is known as the Nympsfield long barrow, has a mound which
is almost oval in plan, with dimensions of 30m from east to west, 25m from
north to south at the western end and 30m from north to south at the eastern
end. The mound is composed of small stones and has a maximum height of c.1.1m.
At the eastern end of the mound is a forecourt in the form of a recess
flanked by projections of the mound. This forecourt has dimensions of 4m by
4.5m and leads into an east facing entrance defined by two standing stones.
Beyond the entrance is a stone gallery, now unroofed, and which leads into a
pair of side chambers and an end chamber. The remains of at least 13 human
skeletons as well as Neolithic pottery were recovered from these chambers, the
associated gallery and from the surrounding mound during excavations by
Professor Buckman in 1862 and Mrs Clifford in 1937. These excavations also
found later Neolithic pottery within the blocking of the entrance to the
burial chamber, suggesting that the gallery was closed before the end of the
The mound is flanked on each side by a quarry ditch from which material was
taken during the construction of the monument. These ditches have become
infilled over the years, but survive as buried features c.3m wide.
The monument has been in State care since 1975.
Excluded from the scheduling are all fence posts relating to field boundaries,
and the public notice board, although the underlying ground is included.
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.