Disc barrow 500m south of Common Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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

Malvern Hills (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SO 86994 48106

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.

The barrow on Kempsey Common is a good example of a class of monument which is rare in this part of the country. Evidence for the burial or burials within the enclosed area will be preserved below ground, and may include grave goods as well as human remains. The fills of the ditch will preserve evidence for the activities which took place at and around the barrow during and subsequent to its use as a burial monument. Areas of the old ground surface sealed beneath the remains of the bank will retain environmental evidence for land use immediately prior to the barrow's construction. All these elements can increase our understanding of the technology and beliefs of the barrow builders. The close association of the neighbouring barrows increases interest in the individual monuments, and contributes to our knowledge of the Bronze Age demography of the county. 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.


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.100m NNE and c.150m north east, and the subjects of separate schedulings.

The remains of this barrow include a circular area of c.22m diameter, defined by a shallow ditch. This ditch is now greatly infilled but is visible as a slight depression c.2m wide containing darker grass than the surrounding area. Vestiges of a low earthen bank are visible in places outside the ditch. The barrow is divided exactly in half by a field boundary, the western half now lying in a pasture field. A line of young trees follows the edge of the ditch which is just visible as an earthwork feature.

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 larger 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 led to its reuse for ornamental purposes 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:
Legacy System:


Went, Dave, (1995)


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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