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:


Ordnance survey map of Bell barrow 300m ENE of the sports ground: one of a group of round barrows north west of Idmiston Down
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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

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