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
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