Five bowl barrows 790m north west of Chain House, part of the Over round barrow cemetery


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

South Cambridgeshire (District Authority)
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Reasons for Designation

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, although 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 organisations amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.

The bowl barrows 790m north west of Chain House have been protected by alluvium and are well preserved as prominent earthworks and associated buried features. Excavation in the area has provided rare information on the prehistoric landscape that surrounded the barrows, revealing field systems and settlement remains.

Part excavation of an eastern outlier of the group, which consists of a complex structure and contains several cremation burials, highlights the potential for the recovery of artefactual and structural evidence from the barrows in the group. As a result of a geophysical survey in 1996 the remains of the barrows are quite well understood while most archaeological deposits are thought to survive intact.


The monument includes five bowl barrows situated 790m north west of Chain House, on the east bank of the River Great Ouse, part of the Over round barrow cemetery. The mounds survive as prominent earthworks, while the encircling ditches, from which earth was dug in the construction of the mounds, have become infilled, but survive as buried features.

The barrows are partly protected by alluvium, although the crowns of the barrow mounds have been spread by ploughing. The northernmost mound stands to a height of 0.5m, as does its neighbour 40m to the south west. The most substantial remains are those of the southernmost mound reaching up to 1m high. The mounds 60m and 150m to the north west are both approximately 0.3m high. Although the diameters of the upstanding remains vary due to the effects of arable cultivation, a geophysical survey undertaken in 1996 demonstrates that the central mounds all originally measured just under 20m in diameter. Anomalies detected by the survey within the northern and westernmost mounds may indicate the presence of internal structures. Ditches were identified surrounding four of the mounds, which are thought to measure up to 4m wide. An eastern outlier of the barrow group was partly excavated prior to gravel extraction, revealing a bank and revetment surrounding the mound, a collapsed wooden funerary structure, fire pit, and several cremation burials.

Surrounding the barrows the geophysical survey detected a network of linear ditches, which seems to respect the mounds and is probably of late Bronze Age date. The ditches form small paddocks with clearly visible entrances, in which the barrows occupy marginal positions. In between the barrows is also a scatter of anomalies that may represent archaeological features, such as pits.

The barrows are situated on the fen edge along the River Great Ouse; a focal point for prehistoric settlement and ritual activity. They are part of a spread of barrow clusters along the former course of the river, and 350m to the north, are three further bowl barrows, which are the subject of a separate scheduling (SM33362). Archaeological investigation in the area on the east and west bank of the river has revealed Neolithic, and, in one location, Mesolithic occupation, as well as a Bronze Age field system and associated settlement features such as round houses and a long house.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 5 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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