Group of four round barrows 500m south-east of Avebury Down Barn, forming part of a Bronze Age round barrow cemetery on Avebury Down


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 11331 70988

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 four prominent Bronze Age round barrows 500m south-east of Avebury Down Barn form part of a nationally important round barrow cemetery. The group includes two examples of the rare bell barrow class and two bowl barrows. Despite partial excavation, the barrows will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to their construction and the landscape in which they were built.


The monument includes four prominent Bronze Age round barrows 500m south-east of Avebury Down Barn which, together with an outlier to the west, form a round barrow cemetery on Avebury Down. The barrows are aligned east-west along a west-facing spur which overlooks the Kennet valley; the barrow cemetery faces the round barrow cemetery on Windmill Hill across the valley, 2km to the west. From west to east the individual barrows can be described as follows: (SU11257097) Bowl barrow, the mound of which measures 15m in diameter and stands up to 0.7m high. The mound has been partially disturbed on the south- eastern side, giving a false profile to this side of the mound. Surrounding the mound, but no longer visible at ground level, is a quarry ditch from which material was obtained during the construction of the mound. This will survive as a buried feature c.2m wide. The barrow was partially excavated in 1849 and contained a cremation burial accompanied by a small bronze dagger. A barbed and tanged arrowhead was also found. (SU11287100) Bell barrow, the mound of which measures 20m in diameter and stands up to 2m high. The mound is surrounded by a gently sloping berm or platform c.3m wide which is enclosed by a wide quarry ditch which survives as a surface feature 0.2m deep and up to 7m wide. This ditch has been ploughed level and is not visible at ground level to the north of the barrow where it is crossed by the boundary fence. The barrow was partially excavated in 1849 and found to contain a cremation burial in a Middle Bronze Age collared urn. (SU11337098) Well preserved bell barrow, the mound of which measures 26m in diameter and stands up to 2.3m high. There is a slight depression c.1.5m wide and 1m long on the mound summit which probably marks the location of a previous excavation. A gently sloping broad berm c.5m wide runs around the mound and is surrounded by a broad quarry ditch. This survives as a visible feature c.9m wide and 0.2m deep. (SU11417098) Bowl barrow, the mound of which measures 16m in diameter and stands up to 1.5m high. The barrow is one of a small number of bowl barrows around Avebury where there is no evidence for a ditch around the barrow mound. The barrow was partially excavated in 1849 when a cremation burial was found in a stone cist at the centre of the mound, situated on the former ground surface. This was covered with a black substance which was identified as pounded charcoal. Excluded from the scheduling are all fences above ground which divide up parts of the site and form the boundary of the field, as well as the unmade surface of the track, although the ground beneath these features 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
Merewether, J, 'Proceedings' in Proceedings, , Vol. 1849, (1849), 83-4
SU 06 NE 142, RCHM(E), Bowl barrow, (1973)
SU 17 SW 57 A, RCHM(E), Bell ? barrow, (1975)
SU06NE640, CAO, Bell barrow, (1989)
SU17SW673, CAO, Bell Barrow, Doubtful, (1989)
Title: Sheet SU 17 SW Source Date: 1960 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

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