Two disc barrows and two bowl barrows 900m north of Moll Harris's Clump on Idmiston Down


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Two disc barrows and two bowl barrows 900m north 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 22023 36741

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. The barrows on Idmiston Down are of disc and bowl form. Disc barrows, of which the examples here are of exceptionally large size, are funerary monuments of the Early Bronze Age, with most examples dating to the period 1400 BC to 1200 BC. They were constructed as a circular or oval area of usually level ground defined by a bank and internal ditch and containing one or more central 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 the most fragile type of round barrow and are rare nationally with about 250 examples known, many from Wessex. Their richness in terms of grave goods provides important evidence for chronological and cultural links amongst prehistoric communities over a wide are of southern England. All examples are considered worthy of protection. 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. Despite limited antiquarian excavation of one of the disc barrows, the barrows on Idmiston Down are well preserved examples of their respective classes 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 two disc barrows and two bowl barrows which form the western part of a cemetery of eight Bronze Age round barrows lying at the base of a wide combe on Idimston Down. The barrows within the cemetery, which is aligned broadly east-west, lie in two discrete clusters. The four barrows all survive as recognisable earthworks and, of these, the largest are the two disc barrows. The south westerly example has a circular platform 50m in overall diameter which slopes gently from the centre to the edge of the surrounding ditch. On this platform lie two low mounds. The central one is 18m in diameter and 0.8m high while the second, which lies adjacent to it and to its north west, is elongated, 16m long, 12m wide and reaches a maximum height of 0.5m. The ditch is 4m wide and 0.4m deep and beyond this is a bank 6m wide and 0.5m high. Excavation by William Cunnington in 1807 produced a number of cremation burials, three of them accompanied by inverted urns from beneath one of the mounds, while the other covered a cremation burial with a pigmy cup, bronze awl and amber beads. The north easterly disc barrow has a circular platform 52m in diameter in the centre of which is a circular mound 18m in diameter and 0.9m high. The platform is surrounded by a ditch 4m wide and 0.5m deep beyond which is a bank 5m wide and 0.4m high. The bank and ditch of this barrow are partly overlain on its western side by a bowl barrow. This bowl barrow has a low platform c.30m in overall diameter and c.0.5m high which, on its eastern side, at the point where this barrow overlies the ditch and bank of the north easterly disc barrow, rises to a maximum height of 1m. The surrounding ditch, which is not visible on the ground, will survive as a buried feature 2m wide. Approximately 20m to the north east of the disc barrows lies a further bowl barrow. This has a flat topped mound 25m in diameter and 1.2m high which is surrounded by a ditch 2.5m wide and 0.4m deep. In addition to the disc barrow, William Cunnington may have excavated one of the bowl barrows within this group in 1807. All fence posts and 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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Books and journals
Colt Hoare, R, The Ancient History of Wiltshire: Volume I, (1812), 217
Colt Hoare, R, The Ancient History of Wiltshire: Volume I, (1812), 217


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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