Henge monuments at Durrington Walls and Woodhenge, a round barrow cemetery, two additional round barrows and four settlements


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Date first listed:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SU 14955 43598, SU 15266 43611

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 Bronze Age periods. Two of the best known and the earliest recognised areas are around Avebury and Stonehenge, now jointly designated as a World Heritage Site. The area of chalk downland which surrounds Stonehenge contains one of the densest and most varied groups of Neolithic and Bronze Age field monuments in Britain. Included within the area are Stonehenge itself, the Stonehenge cursus, the Durrington Walls henge, and a variety of burial monuments, many grouped into cemeteries. The area has been the subject of archaeological research since the 18th century when Stukeley recorded many of the monuments and partially excavated a number of the burial mounds. More recently, the collection of artefacts from the surfaces of ploughed fields has supplemented the evidence for ritual and burial by revealing the intensity of contemporary settlement and land-use. In view of the importance of the area, all ceremonial and sepulchral monuments of this period which retain significant archaeological remains are identified as nationally important.

Henges are ritual or ceremonial centres which date to the Late Neolithic period (2800-2000 BC). They were constructed as roughly circular or oval-shaped enclosures comprising a flat area over 20m in diameter enclosed by a ditch and external bank. One, two or four entrances provided access to the interior of the monument, which may have contained a variety of features including timber or stone circles, post or stone alignments, pits, burials or central mounds. Finds from the ditches and interiors of henges provide evidence for the chronological development of the sites, the types of activity that occurred within them and the nature of the environment in which they were constructed. Henges occur throughout England with the exception of south eastern counties and the Welsh Marches. They are generally situated on low ground, often close to springs and water-courses. Henges are rare nationally with about 80 known examples.

Durrington Walls, Woodhenge and their associated sites form a distinctive and well known concentration of ceremonial and associated settlement features in the Stonehenge landscape. Partial excavation has revealed detail of the timber structures erected within henge monuments, while the role of aerial photography, geophysical survey and subsequent analysis of finds from the excavation have enhanced our understanding of the nature and extent of the monument.

Durrington Walls is one of the largest henge monuments known, exceeding Marden and even Avebury in overall diameter. The timber structures found within it are themselves the size and form of many small henges, leading to the suggestion that Durrington Walls should be termed a `henge enclosure.' The post rings found within Woodhenge mirror the structures revealed within the larger monument, implying a ceremonial relationship between the two. The presence of a round barrow cemetery to the south of Woodhenge, thought to be contemporary with the two henges, may indicate that some part of the ceremonial activity was connected with burial rites, and replicates the situation at Stonehenge where a number of round barrows are located a short distance away. The triple barrow forming the southernmost part of the Durrington group is a rare example of a confluent round barrow. The presence of Iron Age and Romano-British settlements in and around Durrington Walls provides evidence for its continued use beyond the period of its primarily ceremonial function.


The monument, which falls into two areas, includes Durrington Walls, Woodhenge, a round barrow cemetery south of Woodhenge and two further bowl barrows, together with settlements of Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age and Romano-British date located within and around Durrington Walls and Woodhenge. Durrington Walls is a large henge monument, roughly circular in shape with an overall diameter of c.490m north-south and c.468m east-west, situated on a south east slope overlooking the River Avon. A roughly circular area of 19ha is surrounded by a ditch up to 17.6m wide and an outer bank which survives as a spread feature on the east side, where it is c.40m wide and 1m high. The henge has two opposed entrances, one in the north west and the other in the south east, the latter facing the River Avon. The location of these and the complete circuit of the ditch has been established by geophysical survey and aerial photographs.

Partial excavations in 1966-7 revealed the remains of a sub-rectangular timber structure and a complex circular timber structure in the interior of the henge. These structures were accompanied by pottery and antler picks. Radiocarbon dating indicates that the henge was in use in the period 2000-1600 BC.

Woodhenge lies some 70m south of Durrington Walls. It is a small henge monument, circular in plan, with an internal area of c.0.16ha surrounded by a ditch and outer bank; it has an overall diameter of 110m and a single entrance to the NNE. Cultivation prior to World War II has eroded the earthworks, and the ditch is difficult to identify on the ground; it does however survive as a slight earthwork c.0.25m deep. Partial excavation in 1926-8 revealed that the ditch is flat-bottomed, up to 12m wide and 2.4m deep. The outer bank is up to 10m wide and c.1m high. Also revealed were six concentric rings of post-holes representing the site of a large circular structure; these are now marked by concrete posts. Other finds from the excavation included an infant burial, pottery, worked flint, stone and chalk, and animal bone. Radiocarbon dating indicates that Woodhenge was in use c.1800 BC.

The monument also includes two isolated bowl barrows and a round barrow cemetery consisting of four bowl barrows and a possible triple bowl barrow, formerly identified as a long barrow. All of the barrows originally took the form of mounds surrounded by ditches from which material was quarried during their construction. The mounds are now difficult to identify on the ground having been levelled by ploughing, while the ditches have become infilled over the years but survive as buried features between c.1m to c.3.5m in width. The barrows range in overall diameter from c.11m to c.35m. The most northerly of the bowl barrows is located near the centre of Durrington Walls. Its position and size have been confirmed by geophysical survey, from which it is known to consist of two concentric circular ditches with an overall diameter of 35m. A second bowl barrow is situated c.18m south of the outer bank of Durrington Walls and is known from partial excavation in 1951 to be c.11m in overall diameter. The excavation revealed a shallow central grave containing a crouched inhumation and a large plain beaker. The remaining four barrows together with the triple bowl barrow form a round barrow cemetery located south of Woodhenge. The four individual barrows form a NNW-SSE line, and from aerial photographs and partial excavation are known to have overall diameters ranging from 18m-25m. The most southerly of the four had two concentric ditches surrounding an arrangement of eight post-holes and a Beaker burial accompanied by a perforated stone axe. The southern part of the cemetery is made up of a mound 64m long, up to 30m wide and c.1.75m high. A 19th century fieldworker recorded this as three mounds in close proximity, and aerial photographs reveal three mounds surrounded by a single enclosing ditch. One of the circular mounds is clearly visible at the centre of the feature. The site, previously identified as a long barrow, is believed to represent a triple bowl barrow.

Late Neolithic settlement has been revealed by partial excavation to the north, south west and south of Durrington Walls, also from Woodhenge and the area of the round barrow cemetery to the south. To the north of Durrington Walls, Neolithic pits containing pottery sherds and worked flint have been found within the reservoir compound and on the south side of The Packway. Some 20m south west of Durrington Walls four pits and a ditch were revealed in excavations in 1970, and 64m south of the henge bank near the south east entrance indications of a possible Neolithic timber structure were excavated. Neolithic occupation debris and six pits were found beneath the bank of Woodhenge, and post-holes and storage pits containing Late Neolithic pottery were found on the site of one of the barrows in the round barrow cemetery. To the south of Durrington Walls and to the south and west of Woodhenge is situated a Middle Bronze Age settlement. An egg-shaped enclosure c.23m in diameter forming a part of the settlement was partially excavated in 1926-28, revealing pits and post-holes in the interior. Pottery and the charred remains of barley were also found. Parching of the grassland in times of drought has revealed a series of rectangular enclosures which relate to the egg-shaped enclosure. The largest is some 200m by 120m and is approached by a ditched trackway from the NNW. Three smaller rectangular enclosures ranging from 50m to 80m on each side contain indications of pits, post-holes and four probable hut circles. A segmented circular enclosure attached to the `egg' may be a the site of a fifth dwelling.

Indications of Iron Age settlement have been found during partial excavation within Durrington Walls, and include 12 pits and a palisade ditch, while a Romano-British settlement has been found south west of Durrington Walls. This includes pits, post-holes and gullies, with indications from pieces of dressed stone of the presence of a building nearby. Remains of two small enclosures, one containing a corn-drying oven, and two infant burials have been found in the same area, and pottery from the excavations indicates a date c.AD 275-400.

Fargo Road and the former A345 are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath them is included. All fence posts are excluded from the scheduling but 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.

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Books and journals
Cunnington, B H, Woodhenge, (1929)
Cunnington, B H, Woodhenge, (1929), 41-48
Cunnington, B H, Woodhenge, (1929), 49-52
Cunnington, B H, Woodhenge, (1929), 41-48
Grinsell, LV, The Victoria History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume V, (1957), 172
Grinsell, LV, The Victoria History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume V, (1957), 172
Grinsell, LV, The Victoria History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume V, (1957), 172
Grinsell, LV, The Victoria History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume V, (1957), 172
Grinsell, LV, The Victoria History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume V, (1957), 172
Grinsell, LV, The Victoria History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume V, (1957), 172
Grinsell, LV, The Victoria History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume V, (1957), 65
Hoare, R C, Ancient History of Wiltshire, (1812), 170
RCHME, , Stonehenge and its Environs, (1979), 24
RCHME, , Stonehenge and its Environs, (1979), 16-17
RCHME, , Stonehenge and its Environs, (1979), 18-19
RCHME, , Stonehenge and its Environs, (1979), 1
RCHME, , Stonehenge and its Environs, (1979), 22
RCHME, , Stonehenge and its Environs, (1979), 15,22
RCHME, , Stonehenge and its Environs, (1979), 23-24
Crawford, O G S, 'Antiquity' in Durrington Walls, , Vol. 3, (1929), 49-59
Crawford, O G S, 'Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine' in Durrington Walls, , Vol. 44, (1929), 393
Farrer, P, 'Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine' in Durrington Walls, or Long Walls, , Vol. 40, (1919), 95-103
Stone, JFS et al, 'Antiquaries Journal' in Durrington Walls, Wiltshire:Recent Excavations, , Vol. 34, (1954), 164
Wainwright, G J, Evans, J G, 'Mount Pleasant, Dorset: excavations 1970-1971' in The Woodhenge Excavations, (1979), 71-74
Wainwright, GJ et al, 'Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine' in Excavation Of Prehistoric And RB Settlements Near Durrington Walls, , Vol. 66, (1971), 78-82
Wainwright, GJ et al, 'Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine' in Excavation Of Prehistoric And RB Settlements Near Durrington Walls, , Vol. 66, (1971), 76-128
Wainwright, GJ et al, 'Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine' in Excavation Of Prehistoric And RB Settlements Near Durrington Walls, , Vol. 66, (1971), 83-94
Wainwright, GJ et al, 'Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine' in Excavation Of Prehistoric And RB Settlements Near Durrington Walls, , Vol. 66, (1971), 82
Wainwright, GJ et al, 'Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine' in Excavation Of Prehistoric And RB Settlements Near Durrington Walls, , Vol. 66, (1971), 82-83
Wainwright, G J, Longworth, I H, 'Society of Antiquaries Research Report' in Durrington Walls: Excavations 1966-68, (1971), 207-10
Wainwright, G J, Longworth, I H, 'Society of Antiquaries Research Report' in Durrington Walls: Excavations 1966-68, (1971), -


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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