Group of four round barrows 300m north west of the junction between the Ridgeway and Green Street on Avebury Down


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of Group of four round barrows 300m north west of the junction between the Ridgeway and Green Street on Avebury Down
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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 12299 71114

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. Bell barrows, the most visually impressive form of round barrow, are funerary monuments dating to the Early and Middle Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 1600-1300 BC. They occur either in isolation or in round barrow cemeteries and were constructed as single or multiple mounds covering burials, often in pits, and surrounded by an enclosure ditch. The burials are frequently accompanied by weapons, personal ornaments and pottery and appear to be those of aristocratic individuals, usually men. Bell barrows are rare nationally, with less than 250 known examples, most of which are in Wessex. All examples are considered worthy of protection.

Pond barrows are ceremonial or funerary monuments of the Early to Middle Bronze Age. The term `barrow' is something of a misnomer as, rather than a mound, they were constructed as regular circular depressions with an embanked rim and, occasionally, an outer ditch. Where excavation has occurred, single or multiple pits or cists, occasionally containing human remains, have usually been discovered. Pond barrows occur either singly or, more frequently, within groups of round barrows. Pond barrows are the rarest form of round barrow, with about sixty examples recorded nationally and a distribution mainly confined to Wiltshire and Dorset. 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, normally ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and were often a focus for burials in later periods. There are over 10,000 nationally and around 320 in the Avebury area. Despite partial excavation, the group of four prominent Bronze Age round barrows 300m north west of the junction between the Ridgeway and Green Street survive well and contain archaeological and environmental information relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed.


The monument includes four prominent round barrows 300m north west of the junction between the Ridgeway and Green Street on Avebury Down. The barrows occupy a position on a false crest, facing west and overlooking the Kennet valley and the Avebury henge monument. The barrows form a line running from north to south and roughly parallel to the Ridgeway which is c.260m uphill to the east. From south to north the individual barrows can be described as follows: (SU12297108) A well preserved bowl barrow, the mound of which measures 20m in diameter and stands up to 2m high. There is a triangular sarsen block with 1m wide sides protruding from the south west side of the mound. Surrounding the mound and surviving as an open feature c.5m wide and 0.3m deep is a quarry ditch from which material was obtained during its construction. The barrow was partially excavated in the 1840s by Merewether who found a cremation burial in a cist covered by a large sarsen stone. A secondary cremation was found slightly higher in the mound and this was accompanied by Bronze Age pottery sherds. Further finds of Middle and Late Bronze Age pottery have been made over the years, being thrown up by rabbits burrowing into the mound. (SU12317111) A well preserved bowl barrow, the mound of which measures 18m in diameter and stands up to 1.2m high. There is a slight depression in the summit of the mound caused by antiquarian investigation. This measures c.1m across, up to 0.2m deep and is due to the subsidence of the back-filled material. Surrounding the mound is a quarry ditch which survives as an earthwork 3m wide and 0.3m deep. The antiquarian investigation was carried out by Merewether in the 1840s when he discovered a primary cremation burial overlain by four layers of sarsens, Bronze Age pottery sherds and burnt bones. (SU12307113) A well preserved pond barrow which has a central pond 10m in diameter and 0.3m deep. This is surrounded by an outer bank which is 3m wide and stands up to 0.3m high. The barrow was partially excavated by Merewether who found fragments of animal bones, charcoal and pottery sherds. (SU12307115) A bell barrow, the mound of which measures 14m in diameter and stands up to 1.5m high. There is a slight depression in the centre of the mound measuring c.1m across and 0.2m deep. The mound is surrounded by a narrow berm c.1m wide and a quarry ditch 3.2m wide and 0.3m deep. Although there is a depression at the centre of this mound, there is no record of the barrow having been excavated. The four barrows form a highly visible and well preserved feature in the Avebury landscape.

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.

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Books and journals
Merewether, J, 'Proceedings' in Proceedings, , Vol. 1849, (1849)
Merewether, J, 'Proceedings' in Barrow 7, (1849)
Fig j and text (pag: 85-6), Merewether, J, Barrow 9, Proceedings, (1849)
Fig j and text (pag: 85-6), Merewether, J, Barrow 8, Proceedings, (1849)
SU 17 SW 53 C, RCHM(E), Tumuli, (1974)
SU 17 SW 637, CAO, Bell barrow with depression at centre, (1989)
SU 17 SW 639, CAO, Bowl barrow, ditched, (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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