Disc barrow 400m SSE of Common Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014535

Date first listed: 02-Jul-1996


Ordnance survey map of Disc barrow 400m SSE of Common Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Worcestershire

District: Malvern Hills (District Authority)

Parish: Kempsey

National Grid Reference: SO 87124 48216


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

Reasons for Designation

Disc barrows, the most fragile type of round barrow, are funerary monuments of the Early Bronze Age, with most examples dating to the period 1400-1200 BC. They occur either in isolation or in barrow cemeteries (closely-spaced groups of round barrows). Disc barrows were constructed as a circular or oval area of level ground defined by a bank and internal ditch and containing one or more centrally or eccentrically located small, low mounds covering burials, usually in pits. The burials, normally cremations, are frequently accompanied by pottery vessels, tools and personal ornaments. It has been suggested that disc barrows were normally used for the burial of women, although this remains unproven. However, it is likely that the individuals buried were of high status. Disc barrows are rare nationally, with about 250 known examples, most of which are in Wessex. Their richness in terms of grave goods provides important evidence for chronological and cultural links amongst prehistoric communities over a wide area of southern England as well as providing an insight into their beliefs and social organisation. As a particularly rare and fragile form of round barrow, all identified disc barrows would normally be considered to be of national importance.

Disc barrows vary in form, and double ditched examples are previously unrecorded in the area, making the barrows on Kempsey Common particularly interesting examples. Evidence for the burial or burials within will be preserved below ground, and may include grave goods as well as human remains. The bank will retain details of its method of construction, and the ground surface sealed beneath it will retain environmental evidence for land use immediately prior to the barrow's construction. The fills of the ditches will preserve evidence for the activities which took place at and around the barrow during and subsequent to its use as a burial monument. All these elements contribute to our understanding of the technology and beliefs of the barrow builders. The close proximity to the neighbouring barrows increases interest in the individual monuments, and contributes to a wider understanding of the county's Bronze Age demography. In its prominent position on high ground above the Severn floodplain the monument commands impressive views across the surrounding area. It is easily seen by visitors to the common.


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


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a disc barrow, situated on Kempsey Common, on a ridge of high ground overlooking the floodplain of the River Severn. The barrow is one of three on the common, the other two being c.70m west and c.150m south west, the subjects of separate schedulings.

The remains of this barrow include a circular area of c.21m diameter, defined by a low earthen bank, with an internal and external ditch. The bank survives around all but the south east quarter of the monument, elsewhere being c.3m wide and up to 0.3m high. Material for its construction will have been obtained from the flanking ditches, both of which are now greatly infilled. The inner ditch is visible as a slight depression containing darker grass than the surrounding area, measuring up to 2m across. The outer ditch is visible around the west side of the mound as an area of dark grass again c.2m across, but is indistinct in the south east quarter where it has become completely infilled. However, this section will survive as a buried feature. The maximum overall diameter of the monument is therefore c.35m.

The enclosed area will originally have contained one or more low earthen mounds, which have been removed or modified by tree planting. The remains of several large tree stumps are visible in the enclosed area, and also within the neighbouring barrows. These sites appear as wooded areas on early 20th century Ordnance Survey maps, and may have been planted in the mid 19th century to provide a backdrop to Pirton Pool when viewed from Pirton Court some 1.5km to the south east. The closest of the neighbouring barrows contains the foundations of a World War II observation post, and the trees were probably felled at this time to allow the look-out uninterrupted views. The barrow's prominent position on high ground is typical of Bronze Age burial monuments, and the site's clear views and high visibility has attracted reuse as an ornamental feature in the post-medieval period.

The monument is easily accessible to visitors to the common. A Roman road, now partly overlain by the M5, passes north-south to the west of the 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: 27518

Legacy System: RSM


Darvill, T C, MPP Single Monument Class Description - Fancy Barrows, (1988)
Went, Dave, (1995)

End of official listing