Penning bell barrow 600m east of Avebury Down Barn


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)
National Grid Reference:
SU 11427 71271

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. 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 1600-1300 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. The burials are frequently accompanied by weapons, personal ornaments and pottery and appear to be those of aristocratic individuals, usually men. Bell barrows are rare nationally, with less than 250 known examples, most of which are in Wessex. All examples are considered worthy of protection.

Despite having been partially excavated, the Penning bell barrow survives well and contains archaeological remains including a sarsen peristalith, the size of which is unusual in the Avebury area.


The monument includes the `Penning barrow', a Bronze Age bell barrow 600m east of Avebury Down Barn. The barrow survives as a visible earthwork, the mound of which is c.16m in diameter and stands up to 1.1m high. The barrow has six large sarsen stones located around it which form a peristalith or circle, along with five smaller stones and numerous fragments around its summit. Surrounding the barrow mound is a 3m-wide berm and, beyond this, a quarry ditch from which material was obtained during the construction of the monument. It is largely infilled but is visible as a slight depression c.4m wide. The site was visited by Merewether in the 1840s and a sketch and description survive. These show that there were originally 12 stones, eight surviving at that date and four pits from which others had been removed. Merewether partially excavated the barrow and discovered pottery fragments as well as charcoal, animal bone and the teeth of deer, cattle and pig.

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:


AM12, McGrail, U A, WI 7, (1980)
Merewether, J, Sketch 99, (1849)
SU 17 SW 12, RCHM(E), Bowl Barrow, (1973)
SU17SW631, CAO, Bowl Barrow with Sarsen Peristalith, (1989)
Title: 6": 1 mile Ordnance Survey Map Source Date: 1907 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:


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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