Group of five round barrows north-east of the Sanctuary: part of the Overton Hill round barrow cemetery.


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)
West Overton
National Grid Reference:
SU 11984 68175

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 five barrows on Overton Hill survives well as an outstanding and prominent example of its class. The barrows will contain archaeological and environmental remains relating to both the cemetery and the Avebury landscape in which it developed.


The monument includes five Bronze Age round barrows which form part of a larger group located along the Ridgeway on Overton Hill immediately north of `The Sanctuary'. The barrows, from north-east - south-west, can be described as follows:

(SU11926810) A well preserved bell barrow, the mound of which measures 18m across and stands up to 2.9m high. Surrounding the mound is a level berm or platform 3m wide and an outer ditch c.3m wide from which material was quarried during the construction of the monument. This is not visible at ground level, having become infilled over the years, but survives as a buried feature. The barrow was partially excavated by Colt Hoare in the early 1800s and the finds included a primary cremation burial accompanied by a fragment of a small, decorated coarse pottery urn.

(SU11956812) A bell barrow with a mound which measures 25m in diameter and stands up to 3.4m high. Surrounding the mound is a 3m wide berm and a quarry ditch which survives as a buried feature c.3m wide. This barrow has been partially excavated and contained a primary cremation burial.

(SU11966814) Located between two of the bell barrows, and partly overlying their berms and ditches, is a bowl barrow 12m in diameter and 1.2m high. The barrow may have had its own ditch but, if so, this has become integrated into the ditches of the bell barrows. This barrow was partially excavated by Thurnham and contained a primary cremation burial accompanied by a bone pin.

(SU11966816) A bell barrow 29m across and up to 3.19m high. Surrounding the mound is a 3m wide berm and a ditch which is mainly buried but which can be seen as a slight earthwork to the west. This ditch is c.3m wide and partly overlain by a bowl barrow. Colt Hoare partially excavated this barrow and found a primary cremation burial accompanied by a bronze dagger and a piece of bone. A secondary cremation had been placed 0.6m below the top of the barrow in an upright urn, covered with sarsen stones.

(SU12056820) A bowl barrow 25m across and c.3m high. The barrow is surrounded by a ditch which has been reduced by cultivation but which survives as a buried feature c.3m wide. Colt Hoare found a primary cremation in this barrow. The barrows are five of the seven (the other two being south of the Bath Road) which gave the area its Saxon charter name of `Seofon beorgas' (Seven barrows).

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


SU 16 NW 15C, Royal Commission on Historical Monuments of England, West Overton 2 Bell Barrow, (1973)
SU 16 NW 15D, Royal Commission on Historical Monuments of England, West Overton 3 Bell Barrow, (1973)
SU 16 NW 15E, Royal Commission on Historical Monuments of England, West Overton 3a, (1973)
SU 16 NW 15F, Royal Commission on Historical Monuments of England, West Overton 4 Bell Barrow, (1973)
SU 16 NW 15G, Royal Commission on Historical Monuments of England, West Overton 5 Bowl Barrow, (1973)
SU16NW660, CAO, Sevenbarrow Hill Bell Barrow, (1989)
SU16NW661, CAO, Sevenbarrow Hill Round Barrow (SU16NW661), (1989)
SU16NW662, CAO, Sevenbarrow Hill Bell Barrow (SU16NW662), (1989)
SU16NW663, CAO, Sevenbarrow Hill Bowl Barrow (SU16NW663), (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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