Bowl barrow cemetery and a cross dyke on Horton Common 800m south of Bridge Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Date first listed:
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Ordnance survey map of Bowl barrow cemetery and a cross dyke on Horton Common 800m south of Bridge Farm
© 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.

East Dorset (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SU 07535 07230

Reasons for Designation

Round barrow cemeteries date to the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). They comprise closely-spaced groups of up to 30 round barrows - rubble or earthen mounds covering single or multiple burials. Most cemeteries developed over a considerable period of time, often many centuries, and in some cases acted as a focus for burials as late as the early medieval period. They exhibit considerable diversity of burial rite, plan and form, frequently including several different types of round barrow, occasionally associated with earlier long barrows. Where large scale investigation has been undertaken around them, contemporary or later "flat" burials between the barrow mounds have often been revealed. Round barrow cemeteries occur across most of lowland Britain, with a marked concentration in Wessex. In some cases, they are clustered around other important contemporary monuments such as henges. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape, whilst their diversity and their longevity as a monument type provide important information on the variety of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving or partly-surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.

Cross dykes are substantial linear earthworks typically between 0.2km and 1km long and comprising one or more ditches arranged beside and parallel to one or more banks. They generally occur in upland situations, running across ridges and spurs. The evidence of excavation and analogy with associated monuments demonstrates that their construction spans the millennium from the Middle Bronze Age, although they may have been re-used later. Current information favours the view that they were used as territorial boundary markers, probably demarcating land allotment within communities, although they may also have been used as trackways, cattle droveways or defensive earthworks. Cross dykes are one of the few monument types which illustrate how land was divided up in the prehistoric period. They are of considerable importance for any analysis of settlement and land use in the Bronze Age. Very few have survived to the present day and hence all well preserved examples are considered to be of national importance.

The bowl barrow cemetery and cross dyke on Horton Common 800m south of Bridge Farm are well preserved examples of their class and an unusual association. The bowl barrows will contain archaeological remains providing information about Bronze Age economy, environment and burial practices. The cross dyke will contain archaeological remains providing information about the organisation and environment of the later Prehistoric landscape.


The monument includes a cemetery of five bowl barrows and a cross dyke on Horton Common 800m south of Bridge Farm. The barrows vary in diameter from 8.5m to 15m and in height from 0.75m to 1.5m. All the barrows are surrounded by quarry ditches from which material to construct the mounds was derived. These ditches are visible around three of the barrows as slight depressions up to 3m wide and will survive as buried features around the other two, approximately 2m wide. All of the mounds have depressions in the top suggesting antiquarian excavation although there is no record of this. These barrows are possibly those mentioned in a Charter of AD 1033. The cross dyke crosses a low spur, extending approximately 650m from a low lying marshy area at its south western end to the River Crane in the north east. The south western section of the earthwork, extending over a length of about 350m, is included in the scheduling and has two parallel banks 4.5m wide and a medial ditch, 4m wide. The western bank ranges in height from 0.6m to 0.4m externally and from 2m to 0.6m from the bottom of the ditch, while the eastern bank ranges in height from 1m to 0.4m externally and from 1.7m to 0.6m from the bottom of the ditch, being more substantial at the north eastern end of the scheduled earthwork. The eastern end of the linear earthwork in the area of protection is truncated by the railway cutting. To the east of the railway cutting area the earthwork has been reduced in height by ploughing and is poorly preserved in Homer's Wood and this section of the cross dyke is not included in the scheduling. The cross dyke within the area of protection has been crossed by a hollow way, one of several that pass from north west - south east through the cemetery, by a path and bridle way and by more recent breaches to create farm tracks. All fence posts and the footpath 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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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.

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