Round barrow cemetery at Holden's Firs


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of Round barrow cemetery at Holden's Firs
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

West Berkshire (Unitary Authority)
Stratfield Mortimer
National Grid Reference:
SU 64370 65003

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 Holden's Firs barrow cemetery is of particular importance as it survives well and, with no evidence for formal excavation, has considerable archaeological potential. The group is central to a wider barrow cemetery dispersed over an area of c.500m. Such concentrations provide a clear indication of the intensity with which areas were settled during the Bronze Age period.


The monument includes a round barrow cemetery, orientated SE-NW and comprising two bowl barrows and three bell barrows located within Holden's Firs. The bell barrow at SU64336502 has a maximum diameter of 17m and is 0.5m high. Surrounding the mound are a narrow berm and a ditch from which material for the mound was quarried. The ditch survives on the west side of the mound as a low earthwork 3m wide and 0.5m deep and as a buried feature elsewhere. The bell barrow at SU64396497 has a maximum diameter of 50m. The central mound survives to a height of 2m and a diameter of 20m. The ditch is 5m wide and 0.5m deep and the berm survives to a maximum diameter of l0m. The bowl barrow at SU64426494 has a maximum diameter of c.10m and survives to a height of 0.25m. The bowl barrow at SU64436493 is 20m in diameter and 1m high. The bell barrow at SU64376503 has a maximum diameter of 50m. An outer bank survives to a width of 10m and a height of 0.3m and the ditch to a width of 2.5m and 0.2m deep. A berm 5m wide surrounds the central mound which survives to 15m in diameter. The bell barrow at SU64336502 adjoins the barrow on its southern side.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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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.

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