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. Round barrow cemeteries date to the Bronze Age
(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 and occasionally associated
with earlier long barrows. Where investigation beyond the round barrows has
occurred, contemporary or later `flat' burials between the barrow mounds have
often been revealed. Round barrow cemeteries occur across most of lowland
England with a marked concentration in Wessex. In some cases they are
clustered around other important contemporary monuments, as is the case both
here and at Stonehenge. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major
historic element in the modern landscape, while their diversity and their
longevity as a monument type provide important information on the variety of
beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. All
examples are considered worthy of protection.
Despite the western barrow having been partially reduced by cultivation and
the northern and southern barrows having been partially excavated, all three
barrows survive well and form part of a nationally important round barrow
cemetery. All three will contain archaeological and environmental evidence
relating to the monument and the landscape in which they were constructed.
The monument includes three confluent round barrows, situated 580m west of the
Ridgeway track, forming part of a Bronze Age round barrow cemetery situated on
Avebury Down. The barrows sit on the west-facing slope of the Down,
overlooking the valley of the River Kennet and Avebury henge monument. The
western round barrow survives as a low mound 35m in diameter and 0.3m high,
having been reduced in height by cultivation. Surrounding the barrow mound,
but no longer visible at ground level, is a quarry ditch from which material
was obtained to construct the central mound. This will survive as a buried
feature c.2m wide.
The northern example is a bowl barrow, the mound of which measures 20m across
and stands up to 2.3m high. Surrounding the mound is a quarry ditch c.2m
wide. This ditch runs into the ditch of the southern barrow on the south-
eastern side and is visible as a slight earthwork in this area. The remainder
survives as a buried feature.
The southern example is a bowl barrow, the mound of which measures 18.5m in
diameter and stands up to 2.2m high. Surrounding this barrow, but no longer
visible at ground level, is a ditch c.2m wide which survives as a buried
The northern and southern barrows were partially excavated by Merewether in
the 1840's although it does not appear that he located the original burials.
Excluded from the scheduling is the fence running from NE-SW across the
northern and southern barrows, although the land beneath is included in the
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.