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:
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 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:
Legacy System:


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

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