Pond barrow: one of two round barrows on Pen Hills


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010429

Date first listed: 27-Nov-1979

Date of most recent amendment: 03-Aug-1992


Ordnance survey map of Pond barrow: one of two round barrows on Pen Hills
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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 33536 39988


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

Reasons for Designation

Pond barrows are ceremonial or funerary monuments of the Early to Middle Bronze Age, most examples dating to between 1500 and 1000 BC. 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 or an entrance through the bank. Where excavation has occurred, single or multiple pits or cists, occasionally containing human remains, have usually been discovered within the central depression, whilst at one example a well-like shaft was revealed. Pond barrows occur either singly or, more frequently, within round barrow cemeteries (closely-spaced groups of barrows). The function and role of pond barrows is not fully understood but their close association with other types of barrow and the limited but repeated occurrence of human remains from excavated examples supports their identification as ceremonial monuments involved in funerary ritual. Pond barrows are the rarest form of round barrow, with about 60 examples recorded nationally and a distribution largely confined to Wiltshire and Dorset. They are representative of their period and, as few examples have been excavated, they have a particularly high value for future study with the potential to provide important evidence on the nature and variety of beliefs amongst prehistoric communities. Due to their rarity, all identified pond barrows would normally be considered to be of national importance.

Despite evidence for partial excavation, the Pen Hills pond barrow survives comparatively well and retains archaeological and environmental information relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed. It has close association with a bowl barrow some 140m west and a round barrow cemetery about 600m east. As a group these provide a detailed insight into the exploitation of the downland in the later Prehistoric period.


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


The monument includes a pond barrow situated on a ridge north of Pen Hills, about 600m west of the round barrow cemetery on Therfield Heath. The monument is identified by a circular bank c.0.3m high and 12m in diameter. The interior of the barrow is sunken to a depth of c.0.4m with a barely discernible mound 0.2m high to the west of centre. In 1856 the barrow was partly excavated by Joseph Bedlam though 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: 20634

Legacy System: RSM


NAR No TL 63 SE 9, Information from NAR,

End of official listing