Group of six round barrows forming part of a Bronze Age cemetery 400m north-east of West Kennett Farm
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1008102
Date first listed: 10-Mar-1925
Date of most recent amendment: 25-Jan-1994
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference: SU 11493 68571
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.
The group of six prominent round barrows north-east of West Kennett Farm on Overton Hill form part of a nationally important and well-known Bronze Age round barrow cemetery and includes examples of rare classes, including a cairn barrow without a ditch, and three bell barrows. Despite reduction of three of the barrows due to cultivation, and the partial excavation of two of the group, all six will contain archaeological and environmental remains relating to both the cemetery and the Avebury landscape in which it developed.
The monument includes six prominent Bronze Age round barrows which form part
of a larger round barrow cemetery north-east of West Kennett Farm and west of
the Ridgeway track on Overton Hill.
The barrows, from SW-NE, can be described as follows:
(SU11446855) A ring-ditch identified from aerial photographs. This is the
site of a round barrow which, despite being ploughed level, will contain
archaeological information; the old ground surface beneath the mound and the
surrounding quarry ditch, from which material was quarried during construction
of the monument, will survive as buried features. The area of the mound has a
diameter of 33m; the surrounding ditch is c.2m wide.
(SU11546852) A bowl barrow, the mound of which measures 41.5m in diameter and
stands up to 1.2m high. The mound is surrounded by a ditch which has become
infilled over the years but which survives as a buried feature c.3m wide.
This barrow has been partially excavated on two occasions, in 1857 by Thurnham
and again in 1882 by W & H Cunnington. The primary cremation burial was not
located but two secondary cremations were recovered. One was located north-
west of the centre of the mound and was accompanied by a flint scraper and a
serrated flint flake; the other was situated east of the centre and contained
pottery sherds of two vessels, a beaker and an urn, as well as a piece of
antler and several bone pins.
(SU11536859) A bowl barrow, the mound of which measures 42m in diameter and
stands up to 0.7m high. The barrow has been partially excavated on two
occasions, in 1857 by Thurnham and in 1882 by Ponting. These revealed that
the barrow mound contained a crouched skeleton in a grave partly lined and
roofed with sarsens. This was covered by a sarsen cairn, itself ringed by a
double circle of sarsen stones c.1m outside the edge of the cairn. There was
no evidence of a ditch around this barrow. Other finds included a later
crouched skeleton covered with sarsen stones, the skeleton of a child, three
large urns full of burnt bones and the perforated head of a bone pin.
(SU11536862) A well preserved bell barrow, the mound of which measures 26m in
diameter and stands up to 3m high. The mound is surrounded by a gently
sloping berm or platform c.3m wide and a ditch 0.5m deep and up to 6.4m wide.
(SU11516866) A well preserved bell barrow, the mound of which measures 22m in
diameter and stands up to 2.8m high. The mound is surrounded by a berm up to
5m in diameter and a ditch 0.7m deep and up to 6.2m wide. One of these two
bell barrows produced a sherd of Bronze Age pottery and a fragment of a
polished greenstone axe, both found by Owen Meyrick.
(SU11556869) A bell barrow, the mound of which measures 24m in diameter and
stands 2.7m high. The berm and ditch which surround this barrow have been
levelled by cultivation on three sides but survive as buried features on the
fourth. From measurements on the western side it can be seen that the berm is
c.3m wide and that the ditch is c.5m wide.
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: 21723
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Grinsell, LV, The Victoria History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume V, (1957)
No. 2133, Crawford, No. 2133, (1927)
SU 06 NE 88 C, RCHM(E), Bowl barrow, (1973)
SU 16 NW 27 A, RCHM(E), Avebury 24, (1978)
SU 16 NW 27 C, RCHM(E), Ring Ditch, (1978)
SU 16 NW 604, CAO, Avebury 30 Bell barrow, (1989)
SU 16 NW 607, CAO, Bowl barrow excavated by Thurnham, (1989)
SU 16 NW 608, CAO, Bowl barrow excavated in 1857, (1989)
SU 17 SW 36 C, RCHM(E), Bell barrow, (1978)
SU 17 SW 677, CAO, Bowl barrow, (1989)
SU06NE640, CAO, Bell barrow, (1989)
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