Bowl barrow 250m ESE of Common Farm: part of a dispersed round barrow cemetery in Block Fen


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015241

Date first listed: 01-May-1952

Date of most recent amendment: 02-Jan-1997


Ordnance survey map of Bowl barrow 250m ESE of Common Farm: part of a dispersed round barrow cemetery in Block Fen
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This copy shows the entry on 20-Nov-2018 at 23:26:58.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cambridgeshire

District: East Cambridgeshire (District Authority)

Parish: Mepal

National Grid Reference: TL 43075 82942


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

Reasons for Designation

Round barrow cemeteries date to the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). They comprise closely-spaced groups of up to 30 round barrows - rubble or earthen mounds covering single or multiple burials. Most cemeteries developed over a considerable period of time, often many centuries, and in some cases acted as a focus for burials as late as the early medieval period. They exhibit considerable diversity of burial rite, plan and form, frequently including several different types of round barrow, occasionally associated with earlier long barrows. Where large scale investigation has been undertaken around them, contemporary or later "flat" burials between the barrow mounds have often been revealed. Round barrow cemeteries occur across most of lowland Britain, with a marked concentration in Wessex. In some cases, they are clustered around other important contemporary monuments such as henges. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape, whilst their diversity and their longevity as a monument type provide important information on the variety of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving or partly-surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.

Despite the damage caused by prolonged ploughing, the bowl barrow to the ESE of Common Farm will retain significant archaeological deposits both within the mound and within the fills of the surrounding ditch. These deposits will include human remains, providing insights into the nature of prehistoric ritual and beliefs, and other features relating to the date and method of the barrow's construction and the duration of its use. The old ground surface buried beneath the mound is of particular significance, as this may retain evidence of former land use. Environmental evidence, although generally poor in this area due to the de-watering effect of nearby quarries, will still survive in the ditch fills, illustrating the appearance of the landscape in which the monument was set and providing valuable information about the gradual inundation of the fen and its effect on prehistoric habitation and land use. The association between this barrow and the others which constitute the wider cemetery is of particular interest. Although these other barrows are less well preserved (and therefore not included in the scheduling), some information will remain, providing evidence for the duration of the related settlement and for variations and development in their burial practices.


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


The monument includes a bowl barrow situated on the eastern edge of the gravel terrace surrounding Chatteris, some 260m to the east of the Mepal Short Highway. The barrow mound measures 25m north east to south west and 30m north west to south east and, although successive ploughing has reduced the height of the mound to c.0.45m, in its original condition it would have served as a prominent local landmark. The mound was constructed primarily from the underlying gravel quarried from an encircling ditch. Over the years this ditch, which measures c.10m in width, has become infilled. However, it survives as a buried feature recorded by numerous aerial photographs since 1937. The monument is apparently unexcavated, although fragments of Bronze Age pottery were collected from the surface of the mound in 1860. The barrow is the most southerly example in a group of seven similar monuments identified from aerial photography, five clustered in the field immediately to the north and two more located in an adjacent field some 600m to the north east. This dispersed round barrow cemetery provides an indication of the habitable extent of the gravel island underlying Chatteris, which stood above the level of the surrounding fens in the Bronze Age. The other barrows have, however, fared considerably less well than the monument located 250m ESE of Common Farm. Recent archaeological work found no traces of the barrow mounds, and the ditches (where present) had been severely truncated by ploughing. These barrows are therefore not included in the scheduling.

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: 24426

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Coxah, M, Lisboa, I M G, Archaeological Field Evaluation (Phase 2): Block Fen B, (1994)
'The Fenland Project No.6: The SW Cambridgeshire Fenlands' in East Anglian Archaeology, , Vol. 56, (1992), 96-103
'Cambridge Antiquarian Society' in Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society, (1860)
Air Photo Services, Palmer, R, Arial Photograph analysis report, (1992)
Info from CCC Development Control, Sydes, B, Block Fen B: Gravel Extraction, (1995)

End of official listing