Long barrow and 18 round barrows, forming the greater part of Normanton Down round barrow cemetery


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Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of Long barrow and 18 round barrows, forming the greater part of Normanton Down round barrow cemetery
© 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.

Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
Wilsford cum Lake
National Grid Reference:
SU 12056 41230

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 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. 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 Avebury. Often occupying prominent positions, 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.

Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds, normally ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. Often superficially similar, although differing widely in size, they exhibit regional variations in form and a variety of burial practices. The burials, either inhumations or cremations, are sometimes accompanied by pottery vessels, tools and personal ornaments. There are over 10,000 surviving bowl barrows recorded nationally and at least 320 in the Stonehenge area. Saucer barrows are one of the rarest recognised forms of round barrow, with about 60 examples nationally, at least ten of which are known from the Stonehenge area.

Disc barrows and bell barrows, the most visually impressive form of round barrow, are funerary monuments dating from 1600-1200 BC. They occur either in isolation or in round barrow cemeteries. 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 central or eccentrically located small, low mounds, covering burials, usually in pits. The burials are normally cremations and are frequently accompanied by pottery vessels, tools and personal ornaments. The bell barrows were constructed as single or multiple mounds covering burials often in pits and surrounded by an enclosure ditch. The burials in bell barrows appear to be those of aristocratic individuals and are also frequently accompanied by weapons, personal ornaments and pottery vessels. Both types of barrow are rare nationally with only 250 examples of disc barrow known of which 29 are located within the Stonehenge area, and 250 examples of bell barrow known nationally of which 30 are located within the Stonehenge area.

In the centre of the monument is a long barrow, one of at least nine which survive in the Stonehenge area. Long barrows were constructed as earthen or drystone mounds often with flanking ditches and acted as funerary monuments during the Early and Middle Neolithic periods (3400-2400 BC). They represent the burial places of Britain's early farming communities and, as such, are amongst the oldest field monuments surviving visibly in the present landscape. Where investigated, long barrows appear to have been used for communal burial, often with only parts of the human remains having been selected for interment. Certain sites provide evidence for several phases of funerary monument preceding the barrow and it is probable that long barrows acted as important ritual sites for local communities over a considerable period of time. Some 500 long barrows are recorded in England.

The Normanton Down round barrow cemetery, together with its associated long barrow, survives as an outstanding example of its class, exhibiting fine examples of all the major barrow types. Partial excavation has shown that the barrows forming this monument, the greater part of the cemetery, contain archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed.


The monument includes a long barrow and 18 round barrows, forming the greater part of the Normanton Down round barrow cemetery, situated on Normanton Down. The location has extensive views to the south across Wilsford Down, and to the north across Stonehenge and the Cursus. The Normanton Down round barrow cemetery consists of 28 round barrows in all, including 17 bowl barrows, seven disc barrows, three bell barrows and a saucer barrow. The Neolithic long barrow is located near the centre of the cemetery. This monument includes the long barrow, 11 of the bowl barrows, three of the disc barrows, three of the bell barrows and the saucer barrow.

At the western end of the monument are two adjoining bowl barrows, the mounds 1.75m and 3m high; each barrow is 38m in overall diameter. A third bowl barrow 30m to the east is now difficult to identify on the ground but from field observations is known to have an overall diameter of 21m. A bell barrow located 50m north of the bowl barrows has an overall diameter of 40m and a mound 2.75m high; 15m to the east of this is a bowl barrow 1m high with an overall diameter of 22m.

The long barrow is situated 35m to the south east. The barrow mound is 16m in length, 8m wide and 1m high. It is flanked on its east and west sides by ditches from which material was quarried during its construction. The western ditch is no longer visible on the ground, but the eastern ditch is visible as a slight earthwork 4m wide and 0.5m deep. Representation on the OS 25inch map of 1972 indicates that the ditches partially surround the north and south ends of the mound. The overall size of the long barrow is therefore 24m north-south and 16m east-west.

East of the long barrow are three round barrows forming a north-south alignment. At the northern end is a bowl barrow with an overall diameter of 9m and a mound 0.25m high. In the centre is a bowl barrow with an overall diameter of 42m and a mound 3m high. This barrow overlaps a disc barrow forming the southern end of the alignment. The disc barrow has a mound 10m in diameter, surrounded by a berm, ditch and outer bank, giving an overall diameter of 64m. To the north east, between the disc barrow and a north-south track is a bowl barrow. This has an overall diameter of 12m and a mound 0.4m high.

East of the track are eight barrows aligned WNW-ESE along the crest of a ridge. The most westerly is a twin bell barrow 62m in overall length and 42m wide. The ditch which surrounds it is confluent with the ditch of a bell barrow to the east. This has an overall diameter of 59m and a mound 3m high. On the east side its ditch overlaps that of a bowl barrow, which has an overall diameter of 30m and a mound 0.7m high. Another bowl barrow lies 30m to the east. This has an overall diameter of 38m and a mound 1.1m high. Some 10m further east is the first of two disc barrows. These have overall diameters of 45m and 41m and central mounds 9m and 7m in diameter respectively. The outer bank of the eastern disc barrow overlaps the outer bank of a saucer barrow. This has an overall diameter of 41m and its mound is 0.3m high. East of the saucer barrow is a bowl barrow which forms the eastern end of the alignment. It has an overall diameter of 31m and a mound 1m high. To the south of the saucer barrow is another bowl barrow, also 31m in overall diameter but with a mound 2.6m high.

The bell barrows and bowl barrows are all surrounded by ditches, from which material was quarried during their construction. These are mostly visible as earthworks ranging in width from 4m to 8m and c.0.75m deep. The ditches surrounding five of the bowl barrows are now difficult to identify on the ground, having become infilled over the years, but are calculated to range from 1m to 3m in width. The mounds of the three disc barrows are surrounded by berms ranging from 8m to 16m in width. Surrounding the berms are ditches ranging from 5m to 6m in width and 0.3m to 0.5m in depth, and outer banks 4m to 5m wide and 0.3m to 0.5m high.

All of the round barrows have been the subject of partial excavation in the 18th and 19th centuries. Most have revealed evidence of burial, both cremations and inhumations having been found. A variety of grave goods accompanied the burials, including pottery vessels, bronze daggers and amber beads. Objects of gold were recovered from the westernmost bell barrow.

All fence posts are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath these features is included. The north-south track which crosses the western edge of the twin bell barrow is included in the scheduling.

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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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.

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