The Five Marys round barrow cemetery


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1013344

Date first listed: 27-Feb-1957

Date of most recent amendment: 26-Jan-1993


Ordnance survey map of The Five Marys round barrow cemetery
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Dorset

District: Purbeck (District Authority)

Parish: Chaldon Herring

National Grid Reference: SY 79025 84205


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

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 seven bowl barrows, two bell barrows and a pond barrow forming part of the 'Five Marys' barrow cemetery are believed to represent an accumulation of burial monuments over a period of time. The combination of different barrow types is unusual, and provides a valuable insight into the social organisation of Bronze Age communities in this area.


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


The monument includes a round barrow cemetery known as the Five Marys which lies on a ridge top overlooking the village of Chaldon Herring to the south and Owermoigne and the marshes of Galton Heath to the north. The cemetery includes two bell barrows, a pond barrow and seven bowl barrows. The most westerly barrow in the group is a bowl barrow c.3.2m high and 24m across. The surrounding quarry ditch, where visible, is c.2.5m wide and 0.75m deep. Some 40m to the east of this is a bell barrow, the mound of which is c.3.3m high and 21m across. Surrounding the mound is a 2m wide berm or platform and an outer ditch 2.5m wide and 0.2m deep. East of this and between it and the next bell barrow, are two small bowl barrows and a pond barrow. The bowl barrows are 6m and 8m across and 0.2m and 0.3m high respectively. The pond barrow is no longer visible at ground level having been infilled but was recorded as 2.75m across with a 1.8m wide outer bank. The bell barrow further to the east has a flat-topped mound 3.5m high and 18m in diameter. Surrounding the mound is a berm 1m wide and outer ditch 1.5m wide and 0.3m deep. At the eastern end of the cemetery are four further bowl barrows. These vary in size from 5m to 18m across and in height from 0.2m to 2.5m. although all these are ditched, only the ditch of the largest mound is visible as an earthwork, surviving to a width of 3m and 0.4m deep. A further mound in this area, 10m across and 0.5m high, may be a barrow but is more likely to be spoil deriving from the excavation of the larger of the eastern mounds. This group of barrows were shown as 'Five meers' (boundary marks) on Taylor's map of Dorset in 1765. Two of the barrows in the group were excavated before 1866 under the direction of the exiled Duchess of Berry who resided at Lulworth Castle after the dethronement of Charles Xth of France in 1830. In one barrow a deep chalk-cut grave was found containing an adult male and female inhumation, in a contracted (sitting) position. Both skeletons had stag antlers on each shoulder. The second barrow also contained a skeleton in a deep chalk-cut grave with stag antlers similarly positioned. This barrow also contained a secondary cremation in the upper part of the mound. It is thought that the two excavated barrows were the first and the third large barrows from the west end of the cemetery. This round barrow cemetery forms part of a line of ridge top barrows stretching to Moigns Down in the west and ending with a barrow to the east of the Five Marys group. The post and wire fence which cuts the ditches of the barrows on their north side is excluded from the scheduling, as is the fence on the east side of the easternmost barrow, and the boundary to the west of the most western barrow, but the ground beneath is included in the scheduling. The concrete trough between the second and third large bell barrows is excluded although the ground beneath is included in the scheduling. Parts of the public path and trackway through the monument are included in the scheduling where it encroaches to within 2m of the outside of the ditches of the individual barrows.

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: 21908

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, , County of Dorset , (1970)
Grinsell, L V, 'Procs Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Soc.' in Dorset Barrows, (1959)

End of official listing