Wayland's Smithy Long Barrow, Ashbury, Oxfordshire
Wayland’s Smithy is a Neolithic burial site. It was a tomb (grave) built of of stone and wood. There was a narrow wooden box, into which people were successively placed. The remains of 11 men, 2 women and a child were discovered, when it was excavated in 1963. New radiocarbon dating has shown that the first burials were probably placed there in 3590-3555 BC, and the last in 3580-3550 BC. The barrow was therefore used for no more than 15 years, less than a single generation. It is also possible that the barrow was used for an even shorter period of time, perhaps just a year. We don’t know what circumstances caused this group of people to be interred over such a short period. Perhaps the group suffered some illness or injury during conflict. There are potentially three or more people who suffered lethal arrowhead strikes, and two individuals whose remains were subject to scavenging by animals before burial. After a period of between 40 and 100 years, the structure was covered by an oval mound of chalk and earth. This formed a monument that would today be described as a long barrow. This mound signalled the closure of the barrow. This site is now in the care of English Heritage (2010). Read detailed archaeological description.