Round barrow cemetery south of New Barn Farm, associated with the Knowlton Circles


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of Round barrow cemetery south of New Barn Farm, associated with the Knowlton Circles
© 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 02076 09573, SU 02161 09185, SU 02267 09338, SU 02321 09653, SU 02352 09717, SU 02389 09186, SU 02415 09771, SU 02419 09381

Reasons for Designation

Cranborne Chase is an area of chalkland well known for its high number, density and diversity of archaeological remains. These include a rare combination of Neolithic and Early Bronze Age sites, comprising one of the largest concentrations of burial monuments in England, the largest known cursus (a linear ritual monument) and a significant number and range of henge monuments (Late Neolithic ceremonial centres). Other important remains include a variety of enclosures, settlements, field systems and linear boundaries which date throughout prehistory and into the Romano-British and medieval periods. This high level of survival of archaeological remains is due largely to the later history of the Chase. Cranborne Chase formed a Royal Hunting Ground from at least Norman times, and much of the archaeological survival within the area resulted from associated laws controlling land-use which applied until 1830. The unique archaeological character of the Chase has attracted much attention over the years, notably during the later 19th century, by the pioneering work on the Chase of General Pitt-Rivers, Sir Richard Colt Hoare and Edward Cunnington, often regarded as the fathers of British archaeology. Archaeological investigations have continued throughout the 20th century and to the present day. 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 - or ring ditches, visible only from the air due to levelling of the mounds by cultivation in the historic and modern periods. 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. On Cranborne Chase, round barrow cemeteries are associated with earlier features such as long barrows, the Dorset Cursus, and henge monuments. Where excavation has taken place around the barrows, 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, of which that on Cranborne Chase is significant. They are particularly representative of their period, whilst their diversity and their longevity as a monument class provide important information on the variety of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape and constitute a significant component of the archaeology of Cranborne Chase. All examples with surviving remains are, therefore, considered to be of national importance.

Despite some reduction by ploughing, the round barrow cemetery south of New Barn Farm survives as a combination of earthworks and associated buried features and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed. The barrow cemetery includes a variety of barrow types, including some rare examples and is associated with a group of significant henge monuments at Knowlton to the north. The bell barrow within this monument is one of about 250 examples recorded nationally.


The monument, which falls into eight separate areas of protection, includes a group of 33 prehistoric round barrows which form a cemetery, situated on gently sloping ground in the upper Allen valley, within the area of Cranborne Chase. The round barrow cemetery lies to the south of a wider complex of round barrows and henge monuments known as the Knowlton Circles, the subject of a separate scheduling. The round barrow cemetery has been reduced by ploughing, but many of the barrows are known to survive as buried features known as ring ditches which have been identified from aerial photographs whilst some examples survive as upstanding earthwork mounds. The cemetery comprises a nucleated group, with a dispersed group of eight barrows to the east. The main cemetery has been reduced by ploughing, but the surviving barrow mounds have dimensions of between 12m to 32m in diameter and between about 0.25m and 0.6m in height. Each mound is surrounded by a ditch from which material was quarried during the construction of the monument. These have become infilled over the years, but all survive as buried features. The central barrow is likely to represent a disc barrow and is surrounded by an outer bank, subsequently reduced by ploughing. To the south east of the main group lies a large bell barrow which represents the second largest barrow within the Knowlton complex. It includes a mound 30m in diameter and about 2m high, surrounded by a berm or gently sloping platform about 10m wide. The outer ditch has become infilled, but survives as a buried feature about 1m wide. The remaining barrows outlying the main cluster have all been reduced by ploughing, but can be seen as ring ditches on aerial photographs. These indicate the survival of buried features. All gates and fence posts which relate to the modern field boundaries are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them 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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Mention other ring ditches, NMR,


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

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