Bell barrow 300m ENE of the sports ground: one of a group of round barrows north west of Idmiston Down
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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This copy shows the entry on 22-May-2019 at 01:35:41.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- SU 21796 37082
Reasons for Designation
Since 1916 the Porton Down Range has been used for military purposes. As on
the Salisbury Plain Training Area, this has meant that it has not been subject
to the intensive arable farming seen elsewhere on the Wessex chalk. Porton, as
a result, is one of very few surviving areas of uncultivated chalk downland in
England and contains a range of well-preserved archaeological sites, many of
Neolithic or Bronze Age date. These include long barrows and round barrows,
flint mines, and evidence for settlement, land division and agriculture.
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 1500-1100 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
(particularly multiple barrows) are rare nationally, with less than 250 known
examples, most of which are in Wessex. Their richness in terms of grave goods
provides evidence for chronological and cultural links amongst early
prehistoric communities over most of southern England as well as providing an
insight into their beliefs and social organisation. As a particularly rare
form of round barrow, all identified bell barrows would normally be considered
to be of national importance.
The bell barrow 300m ENE of the sports ground, although not within the area of uncultivated downland, is a well preserved example of its class. Despite some erosion caused by cultivation and building works, it still exhibits a largely original profile. Part excavation has served to confirm the dating of the barrow which will still contain archaeological remains providing information about Bronze Age beliefs, economy and environment.
The monument includes a bell barrow, the most southerly of a group of round
barrows which lie on a flat ridge top to the north west of Idmiston Down.
The barrow has a mound 28m in diameter and 2.5m high above the level of the
surrounding sloping berm, which is itself raised a maximum of 1m above natural
ground level. Where the full extent of the berm can be seen on the north and
south sides of the barrow mound, it varies in width between 9m and 10m.
Surrounding the mound and berm is a ditch, a short length of which, 5m wide
and 0.3m deep, is visible on the surface to the south west of the barrow.
Elsewhere, where not visible, it will survive as a buried feature.
The profile of the berm and surrounding ditch has been disturbed by
cultivation on the west side of the barrow. On its eastern side they lie
within a fenced area where they are overlain in part by concrete hard
standings and light buildings.
In 1805, this barrow and others in the group, were partly excavated by William
Cunnington. In one of these barrows he found a primary cremation burial and
parts of a later Bronze Age urn. In 1917 the barrow was re-excavated by Parque
Gallway who found a medallion inscribed `Opened WC 1805'.
Excluded from the scheduling are all fence posts, archaeological site markers,
hard standings, buildings and underground services, although the ground
beneath them 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
Colt Hoare, R, The Ancient History of Wiltshire: Volume I, (1812), 216
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