Oval barrow 1260m north west of Mere Down Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015941

Date first listed: 23-Mar-1927

Date of most recent amendment: 11-Jul-1997


Ordnance survey map of Oval barrow 1260m north west of Mere Down Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Maiden Bradley with Yarnfield

National Grid Reference: ST 82359 35652


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

Reasons for Designation

Oval barrows are funerary and ceremonial monuments of the Early to Middle Neolithic periods, with the majority of dated monuments belonging to the later part of the range. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds of roughly elliptical plan, usually delimited by quarry ditches. These ditches can vary from paired "banana-shaped" ditches flanking the mound to "U-shaped" or unbroken oval ditches nearly or wholly encircling it. Along with the long barrows, oval barrows represent the burial places of Britain's early farming communities and, as such, are amongst the oldest field monuments surviving visibly in the present landscape. Where investigated, oval barrows have produced two distinct types of burial rite: communal burials of groups of individuals, including adults and children, laid directly on the ground surface before the barrow was built; and burials of one or two adults interred in a grave pit centrally placed beneath the barrow mound. Certain sites provide evidence for several phases of funerary monument preceding the barrow and, consequently, it is probable that they may have acted as important ritual sites for local communities over a considerable period of time. Similarly, as the filling of the ditches around oval barrows often contains deliberately placed deposits of pottery, flintwork and bone, periodic ceremonial activity may have taken place at the barrow subsequent to its construction. Oval barrows are very rare nationally, with less than 50 recorded examples in England. As one of the few types of Neolithic structure to survive as earthworks, and due to their rarity, their considerable age and their longevity as a monument type, all oval barrows are considered to be nationally important.

The oval barrow 1260m north west of Mere Down Farm is a well preserved example of its class. Despite some minor disturbance to its mound the barrow exhibits a largely original profile and will contain archaeological remains providing information about Neolithic beliefs, economy and environment.


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


The monument includes an oval barrow lying on the crest of a south west facing slope above a complex of steep sided dry valleys. The barrow includes an oval mound 23m long and a maximum of 16m wide, aligned with the direction of slope. The mound, which tapers gently towards its north eastern end, reaches a maximum height of 1.3m immediately south west of its central point. In the top of the mound to the north east of this point is a depression 5m long and 4m wide, possibly the result of an unrecorded antiquarian excavation. The sides of the mound and its north eastern end are flanked by ditches from which material for its construction was quarried. These have become largely infilled and can now be seen as slight hollows although they also survive as buried features approximately 3m wide. All fence posts 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.

Legacy System number: 26824

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing