Henge, henge type monument and bowl barrow 500m south-east of Dairy Farm
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1015587
Date first listed: 11-Jul-1997
Date of most recent amendment: 23-Jan-2012
Location Description: Centred on NGR TL1147350850
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Location Description: Centred on NGR TL1147350850
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Bedford (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference: TL1147350850
The monument includes the buried remains of a henge, a henge type monument and a bowl barrow located in an arable field on the north side of the Gadsey Brook, at Dairy Farm, Willington.
Reasons for Designation
Survival: Despite being reduced by ploughing, the henge and henge type monument located to the south east of Dairy Farm will retain significant archaeological information including buried deposits illustrating the nature of prehistoric ritual activity, artefactual evidence indicating the date of construction and the duration of use, as well as highly valuable environmental evidence illustrating the appearance of the landscape in which the monument was set.
Period: Bowl barrows are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. The considerable variation in form and the longevity of the monument type provides important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation amongst prehistoric communities.
Potential: In addition to the monuments themselves, the area between the henge, henge type monument and the barrow is of particular archaeological interest, excavations at comparable sites have demonstrated the likelihood of further burials in such locations. The monument is part of a widespread distribution of similar features which follow the gravel terraces of the River Great Ouse, the recent mapping of which has greatly enhanced our understanding of the nature of the prehistoric landscape.
Diversity: These three features form part of a particularly important group which include nearby scheduled barrows and henge type monuments (1015586, 1015589 & 1015590) and the larger mortuary complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age scheduled monuments further to the west at Goldington (1011629, 1008510, 1009777, 1007322, 1007324, 1007326, 1007327, 1007329 & 1007331) and separated from this group by an existing gravel quarry. The study of these sites will contribute valuable information regarding the continuity of land use, the evolution of prehistoric funerary practices and the distribution of settlement in the area.
Documentation: The monuments have been subject to non-invasive archaeological intervention which has confirmed their importance. This includes mapping of aerial photographic evidence and geophysical survey.
In the 3rd and early 2nd millennia BC a remarkable series of circular monuments was built across Britain, comprising varying combinations of earthwork banks and ditches, timber posts and standing stones. Although archaeologists have traditionally classified these monuments into different categories of henges, stone circles and timber circles, the types cannot always be clearly differentiated and may occur as components of the same site; it seems to be their shared circular form that is most significant. They represent a new type of arena for ritual practices and social gatherings.
The most recent national surveys list about 50 more or less certain henges in England, a type of Neolithic monument generally found in the downland and river valleys of the south and the Midlands. They mostly date to the Late Neolithic (2800-2000 BC) and were constructed as roughly circular or oval-shaped enclosures comprising a flat area enclosed by a ditch and external bank. However, unlike those enclosures with a defensive purpose, the ditch of a henge lies inside its bank (although this is not the case at early sites like Stonehenge I - even though it gives its name to the type). Most henges have one or (more commonly) two entrances and are up to 110m in diameter. A few, however, are much larger; irregular in shape and may have several entrances. Human burials are found at some henges but this never seems to have been their primary purpose. They are better interpreted as places where communities who lived rather mobile lives gathered periodically for meetings and ceremonies of various kinds. Finds from the ditches and interiors of henges provide important evidence for their chronological development, the types of activity that occurred within them and the nature of the environment in which they were constructed.
Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary or ceremonial monuments dating from the Middle Neolithic to the Middle Bronze Age. Bowl barrows begin to appear from before 3000 BC but the majority belong to the period 2400 - 1500 BC. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds and are commonly surrounded by a ring-ditch. Important evidence of earlier activity is often preserved beneath barrow mounds, which may be preceded by a lengthy sequence of construction and use. Many, but not all, covered single or multiple burials or had burials inserted into them. Bowl barrows occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often acted as a focus for burials in later periods.
Archaeological studies of the gravel terraces in the Great Ouse Valley have provided considerable evidence for Late Neolithic and Bronze Age settlement and ritual activity. A number of monuments on the terrace have been identified by non-invasive archaeological survey, attesting to an extensive ritual landscape. They have been recorded by aerial photography on several occasions since 1970, and their survival and precise location have been established more recently by magnetometer survey.
The monument includes the buried remains of a henge, a henge type monument and a bowl barrow located in an arable field on the north side of the Gadsey Brook, a tributary of the River Great Ouse which flows into the main river 400m to the east. The henge is situated approximately 270m to the north of the brook, the henge type monument about 24m to the east of that, and the barrow about 24m north of the henge.
All three features have been reduced by ploughing and are not visible at ground level. However, both the henge and the barrow produce distinctive cropmarks which have been recorded by aerial photography on numerous occasions since 1970, while all three features have been clearly identified by geophysical survey undertaken in 2004. The location of the henge type monument was also confirmed by trial trenching in 2005.
The henge is defined by an outer circular ditch, about 37m in diameter and an inner ditch of about 22m in diameter. The outer ditch is truncated by a pipe trench on its east side which also cuts through the barrow to the north. The barrow is also defined by its surrounding ditch which would have measured about 18m in diameter; a slight concentration of gravel marks the burial mound. To the east of the pipe trench the henge type monument is about 32m in diameter, and appears as a single circular ditch measuring about 3.7m wide and 1.25m deep.
The aerial record demonstrates that these features form part of a small group of further buried prehistoric features (the subject of separate schedulings 1015586, 1015589 & 1015590), the presence of which have also been confirmed by geophysical survey.
Extent of Scheduling
The scheduling is intended to provide protection for the maximum known extent of the henge, henge type monument and barrow. The area between these features is also included in the scheduling in order to protect any associated buried remains, particularly flat burials. Each feature has been accurately located and its extent defined by geophysical survey. The scheduling line has been drawn 10m from the outer edge of the group to provide a buffer zone for the continued support and preservation of the prehistoric features and the areas between them. The scheduled area therefore forms a rounded L shape or irregular rounded heart shape, the indent to the north-east. The area measures at its maximum 115m from north to south and 120m from west to east.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: 27182
Legacy System: RSM
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