Bell barrow and two bowl barrows on Old Knowle, 835m NNW of Whitcombe Vale Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016193

Date first listed: 14-Aug-1958

Date of most recent amendment: 11-Jul-1997


Ordnance survey map of Bell barrow and two bowl barrows on Old Knowle, 835m NNW of Whitcombe Vale Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Dorset

District: Purbeck (District Authority)

Parish: Moreton

National Grid Reference: SY 79898 87777

Reasons for Designation

Bell barrows, the most visually impressive form of round barrow, are funerary monuments dating to the Early and Middle Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 1500-1100 BC. They occur either in isolation or in round barrow cemeteries and were constructed as single or multiple mounds covering burials, often in pits, and surrounded by an enclosure ditch. The burials are frequently accompanied by weapons, personal ornaments and pottery and appear to be those of aristocratic individuals, usually men. Bell barrows (particularly multiple barrows) are rare nationally, with less than 250 known examples, most of which are in Wessex. Their richness in terms of grave goods provides evidence for chronological and cultural links amongst early prehistoric communities over most of southern and eastern England as well as providing an insight into their beliefs and social organisation. As a particularly rare form of round barrow, all identified bell barrows would normally be considered to be of national importance.

Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often acted as a focus for burials in later periods. Often superficially similar, but differing widely in size, they exhibit regional variations in form and a diversity of burial practices. There are over 10,000 surviving bowl barrows recorded nationally, (many more have already been destroyed), occurring across most of lowland Britain. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape and their considerable variation of form and longevity as a monument type provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection. The bell barrow and two bowl barrows on Old Knowle survive well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the landscape in which they were constructed. The bell barrow represents an unusually large example of its class.


The monument includes a bell barrow and two bowl barrows situated on a natural hill, known as Old Knowle, on the southern side of Moreton Heath, overlooking the Frome Valley to the north. The bell barrow is situated on the western side of the group. It has a central mound composed of sand, earth and turf, with maximum dimensions of 25m in diameter and approximately 3m in height. The mound has a hollow 6m by 7m on the top, which may indicate antiquarian excavation. The mound is surrounded by a berm, or gently sloping platform, 3.5m wide, and a ditch from which material was quarried during the construction of the monument. The ditch is visible as a depression 7m wide, although it is partly overlain by a later bank which may represent a tree clump enclosure. The two bowl barrows are situated to the east of the bell barrow and are aligned north west by south east. The north western bowl barrow has a mound with maximum dimensions of 16m in diameter and approximately 2m in height. This is surrounded by a quarry ditch 2m wide and approximately 0.35m deep. The south eastern bowl barrow has a mound 8m in diameter and approximately 0.8m high. This is known to be surrounded by a quarry ditch visible in the 1960s. The ditch has since become infilled, but will survive as a buried feature 1.5m wide.

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: 29049

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 446
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 446

End of official listing