Bowl barrow 200m SE of Horseley Fen Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011723

Date first listed: 10-Apr-1951

Date of most recent amendment: 22-Jul-1997


Ordnance survey map of Bowl barrow 200m SE of Horseley Fen Farm
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This copy shows the entry on 10-Dec-2018 at 20:44:54.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cambridgeshire

District: Fenland (District Authority)

Parish: Chatteris

National Grid Reference: TL 41005 82752


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

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.

The bowl barrow at Horseley Fen represents a rare and unusual variation from the normal design of such monuments, reflecting a complex and prolonged process of construction and adaptation. The concentric ditches remain substantially undisturbed as buried features, and will contain artefacts and other dateable evidence relating to the sequence of construction. Despite the damage caused by the reduction of the central mound, deeper features (including burials) will remain within the centre of the monument and the intervening areas between the ditches, providing information concerning the phases of the monument's development and corresponding changes in the beliefs of the community responsible for its construction. The importance of the monument is enhanced by its association with a series of proven Neolithic and Bronze Age enclosures located to the north. Together, these features provide a significant insight into the development of the prehistoric fenland landscape.


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


The monument includes the remains of a bowl barrow encircled by three concentric ditches. It is located within Horseley Fen, a terrace of clayish gravels which stood above the peat fen during the early prehistoric period, but which was rendered uninhabitable by rising water levels from the early part of the first millenium BC. It lies near the former course of the River Great Ouse, which formed a focus for early prehistoric settlements and ritual activity. Over the years the mound overlying the central burials has been reduced in height by ploughing, and the surrounding ditches have become infilled. The ditches, however, survive as buried features which can be traced as crop and soil marks, occasionally visible on the ground, and which have frequently been recorded from the air since their discovery in 1946. The outer ditch is slightly oval in plan and measures approximately 55m north east to south west by 50m north west to south east. The middle ditch measures approximately 40m in diameter and the inner circuit some 30m. All the ditches measure between 2m and 3m in width. The soil within the central area of the monument is somewhat lighter in colour than its surroundings, although this may in part result from the excavation of a small pit within the interior in the 1950's. This pit has subsequently been infilled together with a field boundary ditch, which formerly traversed the western edge of the monument. The monument has not been excavated, and precise details of its function and date have yet to be determined. However, two comparable monuments have recently been excavated; one in the Lincolnshire fens near Deeping St Nicholas, the other near the course of the River Great Ouse at Goldington on the outskirts of Bedford. These excavations have demonstrated that sites of this type result from a complex sequence of construction and adaptation spanning considerable periods of time from the Late Neolithic period to the Early Bronze Age. The example at Goldington originated as a ceremonial ditched enclosure, within which a small barrow was later erected and subsequently enlarged; each alteration accompanied by the excavation of a further ring ditch. At Deeping St Nicholas, a small timber mortuary structure constructed in the Early Bronze Age was later covered by a ditched barrow. This in turn was surrounded by a ring of stakes and later enlarged by the addition of a further ditch circuit. Both monuments contained a wealth of information relating to each phase of development, including primary and secondary inhumations and cremation burials (within the barrows, the areas separated by the ditches, and within the ditches themselves), grave goods, pottery, flint artefacts, and (in the case at Goldington) ritual deposits of antler, bone and hazelnuts. The monument at Horseley Fen is considered to contain similar information, and evidence for an equally complex sequence of development. The monument is thought to have been associated with a series of Neolithic and Bronze Age enclosures, located some 300m to the north east (the subject of a separate scheduling); and would have formed a major component of the landscape at the time of their occupation and use.

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: 24434

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Hall, D N, Palmer, R, Fenland Evaluation Project: Cambridgeshire, (1990), 23
Hall, D N, Fenland Research No.1: The South Western Cambridgeshire Fens, (1984), 7
Hall, D N, Coles, C, 'English Heritage Archaeological Report' in The Fenland Survey, An Essay In Landscape And Persistance, , Vol. 1, (1994), 73-74
Hall, D, 'East Anglian Archaeology' in The Fenland Project No.6: The South-western Cambridgeshire Fens, , Vol. 56, (1992)
Mustoe, R S, 'Bedfordshire Archaeology' in Salvage Excavation of a Neolithic and Bronze Site at Goldington, , Vol. 18, (1988), 1-5
AM107 report, Patterson, H, Ring Ditch 210m SE of Horseley Fen Farm, (1988)
CCC archaeology notes on site visit, Malim, T, 05222, (1991)
CUCAP aerial photograph collection, M76-77 1946/ZM64-65 1959/ABJ26 1960/5-7 1970/CDR52-53/RC8DC 91-2,
NMR aerial photograph collection, TL4052/2/5/71 1986, (1986)
Rectified plot from AP evidence, Cambs County Council Archaeology Section, 05222, (1988)

End of official listing