Bell barrow: part of the round barrow cemetery on Therfield Heath


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009756

Date first listed: 14-Jul-1992


Ordnance survey map of Bell barrow:  part of the round barrow cemetery on Therfield Heath
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Hertfordshire

District: North Hertfordshire (District Authority)

Parish: Therfield

National Grid Reference: TL 34093 40140


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Round barrow cemeteries date to the Bronze Age (c.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, occasionally associated with earlier long barrows. Where large scale investigation has been undertaken around them, contemporary or later "flat" burials between the barrow mounds have often been revealed. Round barrow cemeteries occur across most of lowland Britain, with a marked concentration in Wessex. In some cases, they are clustered around other important contemporary monuments such as henges. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape, whilst their diversity and their longevity as a monument type provide important information on the variety of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving or partly-surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.

The round barrow cemetery on Therfield Heath is the largest known example of its type in Hertfordshire and one of the very few to contain a bell barrow. These represent a rare class of burial mound with only 200 to 250 examples, recorded nationally. Despite evidence for partial excavation, the Therfield Heath bell barrow survives comparatively well providing archaeological information and environmental evidence relating both to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes a bell barrow forming part of the round barrow cemetery situated on Therfield Heath on a spur of the Chiltern Hills. The bell barrow lies approximately 75m south of the main group of barrows. It includes a hemispherical earth mound measuring 19m in diameter and 1m in maximum height. Although no longer visible at ground level, a level berm c.4m wide and an outer ditch, from which material was quarried during the construction of the monument, surround the barrow mound. The ditch has become infilled over the years but survives as a buried feature c.2m wide. The barrow was partially excavated by E B Nunn in 1855, although no finds were recorded.

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: 20640

Legacy System: RSM


NAR No TL 63 SE 9, Information from NAR,

End of official listing