Bell barrow and disc barrow on Horsell Common


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.

Woking (District Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:
TQ 01438 59805

Reasons for Designation

Disc barrows, the most fragile type of round barrow, are funerary monuments of the Early Bronze Age, with most examples dating to the period 1400-1200 BC. They occur either in isolation or in barrow cemeteries (closely-spaced groups of round barrows). Disc barrows were constructed as a circular or oval area of level ground defined by a bank and internal ditch and containing one or more centrally or eccentrically located small, low mounds covering burials, usually in pits. The burials, normally cremations, are frequently accompanied by pottery vessels, tools and personal ornaments. It has been suggested that disc barrows were normally used for the burial of women, although this remains unproven. However, it is likely that the individuals buried were of high status. Disc barrows are rare nationally, with about 250 known examples, most of which are in Wessex. Their richness in terms of grave goods provides important evidence for chronological and cultural links amongst prehistoric communities over a wide area of southern England as well as providing an insight into their beliefs and social organisation. As a particularly rare and fragile form of round barrow, all identified disc barrows would normally be considered to be of national importance.

Bell barrows are a particularly rare form of round barrow, the majority of the 250 known examples occurring in Wessex. The burials within bell barrows are frequently accompanied by weapons, personal ornaments and pottery and appear to be those of aristocratic individuals, usually men. Their richness in terms of grave goods provides evidence for chronological and cultural links amongst early Prehistoric communities over most of southern England. This is one of two bell barrows to survive in the area; the survival of adjacent disc and bell barrows is relatively uncommon and gives a valuable insight into the nature and scale of human occupation in the Bronze Age period. Despite some evidence of partial excavation of the bell barrow and possible erosion of the disc barrow on Horsell Common, both survive well and contain archaeological remains and environmental information relating both to the monument and the landscape in which the barrows were constructed. Both barrows are outstanding examples of their kind.


The monument includes a bell barrow and a disc barrow aligned east-west and situated on low lying ground on the Bagshot sands. The bell barrow to the west has a central mound 28m in diameter and 1.2m high which has an irregular central depression suggesting that the barrow was once partially excavated. Around this is a flat platform, or berm, 9m wide which is contained by a ditch 2.5m wide and 0.1m deep. Outside of this is an external bank 4.5m wide and 0.2m high. The overall diameter of the barrow is 60m. Less than 15m to the east is a disc barrow which has a slightly undulating central area which contains the remains of one or more central mounds. These have become indistinct over the years and are now difficult to define but are surrounded by a well preserved circular ditch and external bank. The ditch is 2m wide and up to 0.2m deep with the bank measuring 3.5m wide and up to 0.3m high on the north side of the barrow where there is the best preservation. The maximum external diameter of the barrow is 40m.

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
Grinsell, L V, 'Surrey Archaeological Collections' in Surrey Barrows 1934-1987: A Reappraisal, (1987), 40
Grinsell, L V, 'Surrey Archaeological Collections' in Surrey Barrows 1934-1987: A Reappraisal, (1987), 39


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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