Bell barrow situated between Bishop's Cannings Down and Easton Down


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1013229

Date first listed: 09-Aug-1957

Date of most recent amendment: 13-Sep-1995


Ordnance survey map of Bell barrow situated between Bishop's Cannings Down and Easton Down
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Bishops Cannings

National Grid Reference: SU 06275 66626


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

Reasons for Designation

A small number of areas in southern England appear to have acted as foci for ceremonial and ritual activity during the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age periods. Two of the best known and earliest recognised, with references in the 17th century, are around Avebury and Stonehenge, now jointly designated as a World Heritage Site. In the Avebury area, the henge monument itself, the West Kennet Avenue, the Sanctuary, West Kennet long barrow, Windmill Hill causewayed enclosure and the enigmatic Silbury Hill are well-known. Whilst the other Neolithic long barrows, the many Bronze Age round barrows and other associated sites are less well-known, together they define one of the richest and most varied areas of Neolithic and Bronze Age ceremonial and ritual monuments in the country. 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 1600-1300 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 are 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. All examples are considered worthy of protection.

The bell barrow between Bishop's Cannings Down and Easton Down survives as a visible earthwork despite reduction by cultivation. Partial excavation of the barrow has confirmed the survival of archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction and the landscape in which it was built.


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


The monument includes a bell barrow situated on the edge of Bishop's Cannings Down and Easton Down on a gentle north east facing slope. The barrow has a central mound, which, despite having been reduced by cultivation, survives as a slight rise 18m in diameter and 0.2m high, clearly visible as a chalk spread in the ploughsoil. Previous records of the monument suggest that, originally, the mound measured c.20m in diameter and was surrounded by a c.4m wide berm. Surrounding the berm, but infilled by cultivation, is a quarry ditch c.3m wide from which material was obtained during the construction of the mound. Although no longer visible at ground level, the ditch can be seen on aerial photographs as a soilmark. The barrow was partially excavated by Thurnham in the 19th century who found burnt human bones, a fragment of black pottery and a number of ox teeth.

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: 21866

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Thurnham, , 'Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine' in Bishops Cannings Down, , Vol. 6, (), 323
SU06NE 609 :Air Photo A17/219059, C.A.O., Ploughed Out Bell Barrow, (1976)
SU06NE 609, C.A.O., Ploughed Out Bell Barrow, (1976)

End of official listing