Bronze Age enclosure and two bowl barrows 520m north east of Moll Harris's Clump on Idmiston Down


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Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of Bronze Age enclosure and two bowl barrows 520m north east of Moll Harris's Clump on Idmiston Down
© 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.

Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SU 22341 36224

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 and round barrows, flint mines, and evidence for settlement, land division and agriculture. Small enclosed settlements dating from the Middle Bronze Age are often associated with earlier field systems and are known on some sites to have replaced earlier unenclosed settlements. Enclosures of both sub-rectangular and curvilinear plan are known; the sites are wholly or partly surrounded by a ditch, bank or palisade, or by a combination or succession of all three. Where excavated, sites have usually been found to contain a small group of domestic buildings sufficient for a single or extended family group. Evidence of a succession of buildings has been found on some sites. The buildings are usually circular in plan but occasional rectangular structures are known. Both types of building would have provided a combination of living accommodation and storage or working areas. Storage pits have been recorded inside buildings on some sites but are generally rarely present. In addition to pottery and worked flint, large quantities of burnt stone and metal working debris have been found in some enclosures. Although the precise figure is not known, many small enclosed settlements are located on the chalk downland of southern England. As a class they are integral to understanding Bronze Age settlement and land use strategies, while their often close proximity to the numerous burial monuments in the area will provide insights into the relationship between secular and ceremonial activity during the Middle Bronze Age. A small number of small enclosed settlements survive on downland as visible earthworks; the majority however occur in areas of more intensive cultivation and survive in buried form, visible only from the air as soil and crop marks. All examples with visible earthworks, and those in buried form which retain significant surviving remains, are considered to be of national importance. The small enclosed settlement on Idmiston Down is a well preserved example of its class in which the enclosure earthworks can be seen to be integrated with an earlier burial monument. In addition, buried deposits within the earthwork and its interior will contain information about Middle Bronze Age economy and environment. The barrows on Idmiston Down are of bowl form. Bowl barrows are the most numerous form of round barrow with over 10,000 recorded nationally (many more have already been destroyed), occuring over most of lowland Britain. They are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. Bowl barrows were constructed as mounds of earth or rubble, sometimes with a surrounding ditch, and which covered single or multiple burials. They occur either in isolation or, as with this monument, associated with barrows of differing type. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection. The bowl barrows within and adjacent to the enclosure on Idmiston Down are well preserved examples of their class and will provide evidence of funerary practices which may span several centuries within the Early Bronze Age. Their construction and use provides information concerning the diversity of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities while their structure will preserve evidence of both past environment and economy.


The monument includes a triangular earthwork enclosure and two bowl barrows of widely differing size located on the gentle north west facing slope of a major combe feature known as The Bowl. The enclosure, which is roughly triangular in shape with rounded corners, has comparatively straight sides c.100m in length. A single original entrance lies within a short straight section of earthwork close to the south western corner and, from this entrance, a hollow trackway runs eastwards into the interior of the enclosure for a distance of c.50m. The enclosure earthwork includes a ditch which is an average of 4.5m wide and 0.7m deep. The ditch is not visible as an earthwork feature on the south east corner and for part of the north west side, but will survive as a buried feature. The internal bank is an average of 6m wide and up to 0.7m high. Pottery recorded within the enclosure during survey work by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England suggests that it is of Middle Bronze Age date. Within the enclosure, close to its eastern corner, is a small round barrow which has a circular mound 6.5m in diameter and 0.3m high. Immediately outside the eastern corner of the enclosure is a large bowl barrow. This has a mound 30m in diameter and 2.5m high, surrounded by a ditch 3.5m wide and c.1m deep. The ditch of the enclosure earthwork immediately adjacent to the barrow has been interrupted to avoid the barrow. Hollow trackways to the south and east of the enclosure are of recent origin and are not included within the scheduling. All archaeological site markers are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath these features 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.

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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.

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