Group of three bell barrows and a bowl barrow on Godlingston Heath


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014291

Date first listed: 06-Jul-1959

Date of most recent amendment: 27-Mar-1996


Ordnance survey map of Group of three bell barrows and a bowl barrow on Godlingston Heath
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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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: Studland

National Grid Reference: SZ 00690 81973

Reasons for Designation

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 and eastern 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 three bell barrows and bowl barrow on Godlingston Heath survive well, the bell barrows being outstanding examples of their class. All four barrows will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed. The barrows form part of a dispersed group of round barrows situated across Godlingston Heath.


The monument includes a group of four round barrows situated near the edge of a west facing ridge on Godlingston Heath within the Isle of Purbeck. The barrows, which are arranged as two pairs, both aligned north east to south west, include three large bell barrows and a smaller bowl barrow; the bowl barrow is to the south west of the northern pair. The three bell barrows each have a central mound composed of earth, sand and turf, with diameters ranging from 16m-18m and maximum heights of between c.1.4m and 1.5m. The mounds are each surrounded by a berm or gently sloping platform which ranges from 2m-4.5m in width. The three barrows also each have an outer ditch which varies between 2m and 3m in width and c.0.45m and 0.55m in depth. The bowl barrow is situated within the south western part of the ditch of the northern bell barrow. The bowl barrow has a mound composed of earth, sand and turf with a maximum diameter of 11m and a maximum height of c.1m. This is likely to be surrounded by a ditch from which material was quarried during the construction of the monument. This has become infilled over the years, but will survive as a buried feature 1m wide.

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: 22993

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 452
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 452
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 452
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 452
Mention barrow group,
Mention dimensions of barrow,

End of official listing