Shipton Barrow: a bowl barrow, Saxon barrow, and associated earthwork enclosure 350m north of Downs Lodge


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Shipton Barrow: a bowl barrow, Saxon barrow, and associated earthwork enclosure 350m north of Downs Lodge
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

West Oxfordshire (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SP 26889 15545

Reasons for Designation

Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often acted as a focus for burials in later periods. Often superficially similar, although differing widely in size, they exhibit regional variations in form and a diversity of burial practices. There are over 10,000 surviving bowl barrows recorded nationally (many more have already been destroyed), occurring across most of lowland Britain. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape and their considerable variation of form and longevity as a monument type provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisations amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.

The bowl barrow forming part of this monument survives well despite having been partially reduced by cultivation and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction and the landscape in which it was built.

A hlaew is a burial monument of Anglo-Saxon or Viking date and comprising a hemisperical mound of earth and redeposited bedrock constructed over a primary burial or burials. These were usually inhumations, buried in a grave cut into the subsoil beneath the mound, but cremations placed on the old ground surface beneath the mound have also been found. Hlaews may occur in pairs or in small groups; a few have accompanying flat graves. Constructed during the pagan Saxon and Viking periods for individuals of high rank, they served as visible and ostentatious markers of their social position. Some were associated with territorial claims and appear to have been specifically located to mark boundaries. They often contain objects which give information on the range of technological skill and trading contacts of the period. Only between 50 and 60 hlaews have been positively identified in England. As a rare monument class all positively identified examples are considered worthy of preservation.

The Shipton Barrow hlaew is a particularly well preserved example of its class, the understanding of which has been enhanced by limited partial excavations. In addition, its association with the earlier Bronze Age bowl barrow and the existence of its banked enclosure are unusual features.


The monument includes a Bronze Age bowl barrow adjacent to an Anglo-Saxon hlaew or burial mound and its associated three sided enclosure. The site is located on a broad ridge on top of Shipton Down, 350m north of Downs Lodge. The bowl barrow has been partially reduced by cultivation but survives as a visible mound 17m in diameter and 0.5m high. The barrow was constructed as a stone and earth cairn and is clearly visible on aerial photographs. The barrow mound was used as an Ordnance Survey minor triangulation station in the late 19th century. The Anglo-Saxon burial mound, situated 30m to the south east, has an earth and stone mound constructed in two tiers. The base measures 30m in diameter and stands 1.5m high while the upper tier measures 17m in diameter and stands 1.3m high. The mound therefore has an overall height of 2.8m. Following the discovery of human bones in the top of the mound a partial excavation was carried out in 1976. This located the remains of two secondary burials containing human skeletons accompanied by an iron buckle. This was dated to the late Anglo-Saxon period (10th-11th centuries). To the north west, south west and south east of the mound lies a three sided enclosure, the open fourth side of which is formed by the barrow. The sides of the enclosure are all c.63m long and each include a 3m wide and 1m high external bank and a partially infilled ditch c.2m wide. The northern and western sides have been incorporated into the layout of the modern field boundaries while the southern side of the enclosure has been levelled by cultivation, although the ditch remains visible as a partially infilled feature 0.2m deep. Excluded from the scheduling are the post and wire fences running along the north and west sides of the earthwork, 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
Chambers, R A, 'Oxford Archaeological Unit Newsletter' in A Secondary Burial on Shipton Barrow, , Vol. 9, (1977)
Included on SM 21801 file, Jeffery, P.P., Profile and Measurements - Shipton Barrow HLAEW, (1993)
PRN 1451, C.A.O., Shipton Barrow, (1976)
PRN 2235, C.A.O., Probable Bowl Barrow (Ploughed), (1977)
PRN 2235, C.A.O., Shipton Round Barrow, (1977)
PRN 4448, C.A.O., Two Burials, (1977)
See CA938667F attached, R.C.H.M.(E),
SP 21 NE 19, Ordnance Survey, Probable Bowl Barrow (Ploughed), (1977)
Title: Ordnance Survey 25" Series Source Date: 1919 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: 25"
Title: Swinbrook and Widford CP Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: 1:10000


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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