Round barrow cemetery and part of a field system 200m south of Beckhampton Penning
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
- Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- SU 09389 67156
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 Bronze Age round barrow cemetery 200m south of Beckhampton Penning includes an unusual combination of rare disc, pond and saucer barrows. Although the barrows have been reduced by cultivation and many have been partially excavated, they will retain archaeological and environmental remains relating to their construction and the landscape in which they were built. The area of field system included in the scheduling preserves evidence of the way in which the barrows were incorporated into the later prehistoric land management system.
The monument includes ten Bronze Age round barrows and part of a field system
200m south of Beckhampton Penning. Together, the barrows form a nucleated
round barrow cemetery on a north-facing false crest on Allington Down.
The individual barrows can be described as follows:
(SU09456715) Disc barrow. Although levelled by cultivation, this will survive
as a buried feature with an overall diameter of 40m including the levelled
central mound, the level berm and its surrounding 3m wide quarry ditch. The
barrow was partially excavated by Thurnham in the 19th century. This is
probably the barrow in which he found a primary cremation with an `Aldbourne
Cup' and bronze awl. The barrow was still visible above ground when visited by
Grinsell in 1951.
(SU09366718) Disc barrow reduced by cultivation but visible as an upstanding
spread mound c.30m in diameter and up to 0.3m high. This represents the spread
remains of the central mound which originally sat in the centre of a 30m
diameter level berm. Surrounding the mound and berm, and just visible at
ground level, is an infilled quarry ditch from which material was obtained
during the construction of the monument. This survives as a buried feature
2.5m wide but is visible in places as a depression 0.2m deep. The barrow was
partially excavated by Thurnham in the 19th century.
(SU09416717) Disc barrow levelled by cultivation but which survives as a
buried feature with an overall diameter of 35m. The central mound, which
originally had a diameter of c.8m, has been spread across the level berm which
has a diameter of 30m and is surrounded by an infilled quarry ditch 2.5m deep.
This was visible as recently as 1973 when the spread mound measured 0.3m high
and the ditch, although partially infilled, was 0.2m deep. At this date there
was also an outer bank clearly visible on the west side of the barrow with a
diameter of c.1.5m. The barrow was partially excavated by Thurnham in the 19th
century and is probably the barrow in which he found a primary cremation
accompanied by an `Aldbourne Cup'.
(SU09346722) Pond barrow. Although levelled by cultivation and no longer
visible at ground level, this barrow survives as a buried feature visible on
aerial photographs. The barrow has the levelled remains of a 3m wide bank
recorded as being 0.3m high in 1973, surrounding an inner depression or `pond'
with a diameter of 22m. The pond was 0.2m deep in 1973. The barrow was
partially excavated by Thurnham in the 19th century.
(SU09376722) Saucer barrow, levelled by cultivation and no longer visible at
ground level, but which survives as a buried feature visible on aerial
photographs with an overall diameter of 28m. It was partially excavated by
(SU09476711) Round barrow levelled by cultivation but which survives below
ground with an overall diameter of 28m. It is visible as a soil mark, known as
a ring ditch, on aerial photographs. The northern portion is obscured by the
east-west fence line marking the parish boundary.
(SU09346710) Disc barrow levelled by cultivation but which survives as a
buried feature with an overall diameter of 26m, including a 2m wide ditch. The
mound has been spread across the berm and ditch so that no surface evidence is
now visible. However, the mound was recorded as being 0.3m high in 1951 when
visited by Grinsell. The barrow was partially excavated by Thurnham in the
(SU09296715) Ring ditch representing the site of a levelled round barrow. This
is no longer visible at ground level, except as a soil mark immediately after
ploughing, but survives as a buried feature c.22m wide.
(SU09346715) Ring ditch, no longer visible at ground level but which survives
as a buried feature visible on aerial photographs. It has an overall diameter
(SU09376713) Ring ditch, no longer visible at ground level but which is
visible on aerial photographs and has an overall diameter of c.23m.
The field system covers a total area of 230 acres on Allington Down and takes
the form of many small rectangular fields, which have produced quantities of
Iron Age and Romano-British pottery sherds. The field boundaries have been
reduced by cultivation over the years and most of the area survives as buried
ditches and levelled banks, visible on aerial photographs. The part of the
field system included in this monument contains a number of linear and curved
elements which respect the outer edge of the round barrow cemetery to the
north and east, and which utilise the land between the barrows within it.
Excluded from the scheduling is the boundary fence running east-west through
the cemetery, although the ground beneath is included.
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, 'A History of Wiltshire' in A History of Wiltshire, , Vol. 1 pt 1, (1957)
CAO, Field system, (1989)
OS 73/071/232 3, Ordnance Survey, (1973)
SMR AP plot on 1:10,000 O.S. Base, CAO, Avebury World Heritage Area, (1991)
St Joseph, J K,
SU 06 NE 66 B, RCHM(E), Avebury 66, (1973)
SU 06 NE 66 C, RCHM(E), Avebury 67, (1973)
SU 06 NE 66 D, RCHM(E), Avebury 65, (1973)
SU 06 NE 68, RCHM(E), A field system, (1973)
SU 16 NW 699, CAO, Ring Ditch, (1989)
SU06NE630, CAO, Ploughed out disc barrow, (1989)
SU06NE631, CAO, Ploughed disc barrow, (1989)
SU06NE633, CAO, Ploughed out pond barrow, (1989)
SU06NE634, CAO, Saucer barrow, (1989)
SU06NE638, CAO, (1989)
Title: Sheet SU 06 NE Source Date: 1961 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: 6" Edition
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