Hoar Stone portal dolmen situated in Enstone Firs


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


Ordnance survey map of Hoar Stone portal dolmen situated in Enstone Firs
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

West Oxfordshire (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SP 37786 23738

Reasons for Designation

Portal dolmens are funerary and ceremonial monuments of the Early and Middle Neolithic period, the dated examples showing construction in the period 3500- 2600 BC. As burial monuments of Britain's early farming communities, they are among the oldest visible field monuments to survive in the present landscape. Where sufficiently well-preserved, they comprise a small closed rectangular chamber built from large stone slabs, with free-standing stones flanking the frontal slab of the chamber. A capstone, often massive, covers the chamber, and some examples show traces of a low cairn or platform around the chamber. Some sites have traces of a kerb around the cairn and certain sites show a forecourt area, edged by a facade of upright stones in a few examples. Little is yet known about the form of the primary burial rites. At the few excavated sites, pits and postholes have been recorded within and in front of the chamber, containing charcoal and cremated bone; some chamber contents of soil and stones may be original blocking deposits. Many portal dolmens were re-used for urned cremations, especially during the Middle Bronze Age. Only about 20 portal dolmens are known nationally, concentrated in west Penwith, Cornwall, and in the north-west Oxfordshire Cotswolds, with a scatter between these. As one of the few surviving field monument types of the Neolithic period, and due to their rarity, considerable age and longevity of construction and use, all portal dolmens are considered to be nationally important.

The Hoar Stone portal dolmen survives comparatively well, despite having been partially excavated, and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction and use, the landscape in which it was built and its reuse in later periods. This is one of only a small number of known portal dolmens to survive in the area.


The monument includes a Neolithic portal dolmen situated on the northern edge of Enstone Firs, immediately south of the B4022. The site occupies a gentle north east facing slope. The portal dolmen is visible as three upright orthostats on the north, west and south sides of a rectangular chamber measuring 3m from east to west and 2m from north to south. The orthostats stand up to 2.57m above the present ground level and measure between 1m and 1.5m across. All the orthostats are c.0.6m thick. The orthostat on the northern side is broken at an angle which relates to the broken curve on a stone lying to the north east. This was not the capstone but forms part of the main chamber. Two further large fragments lying to the east are almost certainly the remains of the capstone which was originally set on top of the three orthostats to form the chamber roof. Originally, the chamber was surrounded by a low ring cairn which is no longer visible at ground level but which is shown as surviving above ground in an early 19th century sketch. Although obscured by the build up of soil and leaf litter around the chamber, the original ground surface and any features cut into it will survive beneath the extent of the ring cairn. The monument was partially excavated in c.1899 when evidence of later Roman activity on the site was found in the form of pottery and coins in addition to evidence for the original construction of the monument. Excluded from the scheduling are the drystone boundary walls and the concrete base for the notice board, although the ground beneath all these features 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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Crawford, O G S, Long Barrows of the Cotswolds, (1925), 159-161
Lattey, , 'Oxoniensia' in The Hoar Stone, , Vol. XIV 1949, (1949), 87
OXON PRN 2256, C.A.O., Megalithic Tomb, (1971)
OXON PRN 2258, C.A.O., Pottery. Coins, (1979)


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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