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 evidence for partial excavation, both barrows survive well and form
part of a nationally important round barrow cemetery. The bell barrow is also
an outstanding example of its class. Both barrows will contain archaeological
and environmental remains relating to the monument and the landscape in which
they were constructed.
The monument includes two prominent and well preserved round barrows aligned
north-south and situated on a south-west facing slope overlooking the Kennet
valley and the prehistoric avenue leading from the henge at Avebury to the
Sanctuary. These barrows form part of a Bronze Age round barrow cemetery
situated on Avebury Down.
The northern of the two is a well preserved bell barrow which has a mound
20.5m in diameter and up to 4.3m high. The mound is surrounded by a gently
sloping berm c.4.5m wide and an outer quarry ditch from which material was
taken to construct the mound. The ditch is 4.2m wide and currently 0.43m
deep, although it has been partly infilled over the years and would originally
have been deeper. A small trench c.1.5m by 2m has been cut north-south across
the summit of this mound at some point in its history.
The southern example is a well preserved bowl barrow. The barrow mound
measures 26.5m in diameter and stands up to 3m high. Surrounding the barrow
mound is a partially infilled quarry ditch which survives largely as a buried
feature c.5m wide. The visible width of the ditch above ground is c.2.15m
having been largely levelled by cultivation. The ditch is seen most clearly
to the north-west of the mound. Slight mutilation of the barrow on the
southern side of the mound may indicate an unrecorded antiquarian
investigation or the location of a felled tree.
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.