Bowl barrow on Goffers Knoll


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Bowl barrow on Goffers Knoll
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

South Cambridgeshire (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TL 39163 42449

Reasons for Designation

Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period 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 superficially similar, although differing widely in size, they exhibit regional variations in form and a diversity of burial practices. There are over 10,000 surviving bowl barrows recorded nationally (many more have already been destroyed), occurring across most of lowland Britain. 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.

Despite partial excavation in the 1920's, the bowl barrow on Goffers Knoll is well preserved and will contain archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the origins and use of the monument, and the landscape in which it was constructed. The barrow forms part of a wider group of similar monuments distributed across the high ground between Royston and Great Chesterford, the majority of which have been severely denuded by ploughing. The importance of the bowl barrow on Goffers Knoll is enhanced by its association with these less well preserved examples, including those excavated in the 19th century, and by its rarity as a surviving earthwork.


The monument is situated on a prominent knoll surmounting the northern end of a spur of the chalk uplands which extends to the north east of Royston, Hertfordshire. This location provides commanding views to the north over the lower ground towards Cambridge and over a broad valley to the south of the spur. The bowl barrow is now contained within a small area of woodland, in the absence of which it would have served as a conspicuous local landmark. The barrow mound is circular in plan measuring c.21.5m in diameter, and surviving to a height of 1.2m-1.5m. The height of the mound is slightly exaggerated when viewed from the south where the gradient of the knoll is more pronounced. The top of the mound appears flattened although the angles of the surrounding slopes indicate that much of the original profile is retained. A slight depression, measuring c.3m in width and 0.2m in depth, visible around all but the southern side of the barrow indicates the location of a surrounding, infilled ditch from which the material for the mound was quarried. The barrow is thought to have been investigated in the 1920's by Dr Palmer of Luton and a small pit located near the base of the mound on the south eastern side may relate to this activity. A single barrow and three examples from a group of five barrows located in the vicinity of Heath Farm (some 1m-1.5km to the south west) were partially excavated in the mid 19th century by the antiquarian R C Neville (Lord Braybrooke). The records of this work describe a range of burial practices and funerary artefacts primarily of Bronze Age date which are considered to be characteristic of the barrows in this area.

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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Legacy System:


Books and journals
Fox, C, Archaeology of the Cambridge Region, (1923), 326,344
Neville, R C, Sepulchra Exposita, (1848), 84-85
Neville, R C, Sepulchra Exposita, (1848), 17-27
Ordnance Survey revision notes, BHS, TL 3897/4175 Barrow, (1969)


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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