Pair of Bronze Age round barrows and surrounding Civil War fieldworks 180m north-west of Park Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011224

Date first listed: 18-Oct-1993


Ordnance survey map of Pair of Bronze Age round barrows and surrounding Civil War fieldworks 180m north-west of Park Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Oxfordshire

District: West Oxfordshire (District Authority)

Parish: Cornbury and Wychwood

National Grid Reference: SP 35634 17984


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

Reasons for Designation

English Civil War fieldworks are earthworks which were raised during military operations between 1642 and 1645 to provide temporary protection for infantry or to act as gun emplacements. The earthworks, which may have been reinforced with revetting and palisades, consisted of banks and ditches and varied in complexity from simple breastworks to complex systems of banks and inter- connected trenches. They can be recognised today as surviving earthworks or as crop- or soil-marks on aerial photographs. The circumstances and cost of their construction may be referred to in contemorary historical documents. Fieldworks are recorded widely throughout England with concentrations in the main areas of campaigning. Those with a defensive function were often sited to protect settlements or their approaches. Those with an offensive function were designed to dominate defensive positions and to contain the besieged areas. There are some 150 surviving examples of fieldworks recorded nationally. All examples which survive well and/or represent particular forms of construction are identified as nationally important. Bell barrows, the most visually impressive form of round barrow, are funerary monuments dating to the Early and Middle Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 1500-1100 BC. They occur either in isolation or in round barrow cemeteries and were constructed as single or multiple mounds covering burials, often in pits, and surrounded by an enclosure ditch. The burials were frequently accompanied by weapons, personal ornaments, and pottery and appear to be those of aristocratic individuals, usually men. Bell barrows are rare nationally, with less than 250 known examples, most of which are in Wessex. Their richness in terms of grave goods provides evidence for chronological and cultural links amongst early prehistoric communities over most of southern and eastern England as well as providing an insight into their beliefs and social organisation. As a particularly rare form of round barrow, all identified bell barrows would normally be considered to be of national importance. Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often acted as a focus for burials in later periods. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape and their considerable variation of form and longevity as a monument type provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisations amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection. The fieldworks in the south-western corner of Cornbury Park survive well despite having been partially levelled by cultivation on the northern side. They are a fine example of fieldworks constructed to take advantage both of the terrain and existing earthworks in the form of two round barrows. Both the barrows and the fieldworks will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to their construction and the landscape in which they were built. In addition, they form part of a defensive system which can be clearly traced on maps and which provides important evidence of the military requirements of those who ordered their construction.


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


The monument includes two Bronze Age round barrows contained within a complex of English Civil War fieldworks, 180m north-west of Park Farm in Cornbury Park. The site occupies a south-facing slope which overlooks the valley of the River Evenlode and the approaches by road to the house and park. To the east of the modern private road, and on the eastern side of the monument, is a well-preserved Bronze Age bell barrow. The barrow mound measures 12.1m in diameter and 1.6m high and is surrounded by a gently sloping berm c.5.75m wide. Beyond the berm is a quarry ditch from which material was obtained during the construction of the barrow. This ditch has become largely infilled over the years but survives as a shallow feature 5.8m wide and varying from 0.2m to 0.4m in depth. The summit of this barrow is unusually flat and it is likely that it was levelled to provide a gun platform or observation post during later Civil War activity on the site. Some 60m west of the bell barrow stands a tree covered mound 28m in diameter and 0.7m high. This Bronze Age bowl barrow has been partially disturbed as is indicated by a spread of material to the south-east of the mound and a slight depression on its southern side. The surrounding quarry ditch has been infilled by later activity and is no longer visible at ground level. It will however survive as a buried feature c.3m wide. The disturbance to this barrow is also probably due to alterations as part of Civil War construction work. Situated south-west of the track and enclosing the western barrow is a complex of English Civil War fieldworks represented by a series of earthwork banks and ditches, which are best preserved above ground to the south-west and south-east. Here they include an inner bank 6m wide and 0.6m higher than the interior, and a partially infilled ditch 7.2m wide and 0.3m deep. Beyond this is a 3.2m wide bank which stands 0.2m high, a further ditch 3.4m wide and 0.2m deep, and a counterscarp bank 4.6m wide and 0.3m high. The northern and north- eastern sides of this fieldwork have been partially levelled by later cultivation but are visible as shallow features. The area enclosed by these earthworks forms a flat lozenge-shaped platform c.87m across, with its acute angles to the east and west. Extensions to the defences include a length of ditch which runs south-east from the south-west corner of the site to the break of slope north of the lake. The function of this ditch appears to have been to prevent enemy cavalry breaking through from either the east or west. Also, to the north of the bell barrow, a section of ditch runs ENE from a terminus at its western end. This ditch is c.4m wide and runs up to the edge of the modern boundary fence beyond which it is not visible above ground level. The entrance created by the gap between this ditch and the northern side of the main earthwork, to the west, would have allowed the old road to run through the defences. There is evidence of the line of the old road in the form of slight banks and an avenue of trees which survive in the park to the north. The surface of the modern road, which runs north-west from the monument towards the house, probably lies on the older carriageway where it runs through the monument. The location of the defences to the east of the road are no longer visible but they probably ran within the narrow strip of land now occupied by coniferous woodland. There is no evidence of ditches to the east of this line on aerial photographs and any ditches further east would have interrupted the line of sight of the supporting battery to the north. Historically, Cornbury House is known to have been owned by the Royalist Henry Danvers, Earl of Danby who was a determined supporter of the king despite the strong Parliamentarian allegiance of his brother Sir John Danby. Although the history of the period is unclear until the estate was occupied for Parliament by Fairfax in October 1646, it appears that a Royalist garrison was present in the park and the defences would have formed an important strong point between two communication routes from Oxford which were used by the king in 1644 and 1645. Cornbury would have provided an outer defence to the north of Oxford along with Woodstock Manor House and Bletchingdon Manor. Excluded from the scheduling is the surface of the road which links Cornbury House to Park Farm; also excluded is the fence which forms the eastern boundary of the protected area, but the land beneath both the road and the fence 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.

Legacy System number: 21782

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Mudd, A, Round Barrows of the Oxfordshire Cotswolds, (1983)
Mudd, A, Round Barrows of the Oxfordshire Cotswolds, (1983)
O'Neil, B H S, 'Oxoniensia' in A Civil War Battery at Cornbury Oxfordshire, (1945), 72-77
O'Neil, B H S, 'Oxoniensia' in A Civil War Battery at Cornbury Oxfordshire, (1945), 73-77
Toynbee, M R, 'Oxoniensia' in A Civil War Battery at Cornbury Park, Historical Note, , Vol. X, (1945), p77
Numerous verticals and obliques, R.C.H.M.(E), Allen Collection & 1946 R.A.F., (1946)
Numerous verticals, R.C.H.M.(E), RAF 1946 Vertical Cover, (1946)
PRN 1290 referenced as an aside, C.A.O., EARTHWORK, SOUTH END OF CORNBURY PARK,
PRN 1290, C.A.O., Earthwork, south end of Cornbury Park,
PRN 1292, C.A.O., Round Barrow, Cornbury Park,
Title: Ordnance Survey 6" Source Date: 1945 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: Ordnance Survey 6" Source Date: 1946 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing