The story

Long Barrow

Long Barrow

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A long barrow is a class of Middle Neolithic (approximately 3500-2700 BCE) burial monument which is found extensively throughout the British Isles and is related to other forms of contemporary tomb-building traditions of north-western Europe, particularly that of northern France.

Essential Features

The essential features of a long barrow are:

  • A long either rectangular or trapezoidal mound of soil and stone.
  • Flanking ditches or pits, where the stone for the mound's construction would have come from.
  • Chambers inside the mound built from either timber or orthostats (an upright stone that is used to form part of a structure).
  • Some kind of elaboration at the higher and wider end of the mound in the form of either a concave forecourt or facade.

Much of the archaeological literature on this period distinguishes between earthen long barrows in the south and east of the British Isles, and the stone chambered tombs of the north and west. Both of these types are part of the wider architectural tradition on long barrow building, although it is worth pointing out that not all chambered tombs are long barrows.

The chambers within a long barrow are located in one of two areas. Firstly, the terminal chambers which open into the mound from the wider and higher end of the structure, from the back of the forecourt or facade. Secondly, the lateral chambers which open into the side of the mound. In all cases, the chambers represent a small proportion of the overall structure, which has prompted some critics to suggest that these barrows also functioned as territorial marks.

The burials inside these mounds are usually disarticulated inhumations of human remains.

The burials inside these mounds are usually disarticulated inhumations of human remains, with the corpses having been placed in the entrance way first, and then bit by bit as the body decays get moved further and further back in the barrow, allowing for more room for the induction of new burials.

Regional Groups

All dated long barrows were built and used during the mid 4th millennium BCE. Many of these structures show signs of abandonment and in some cases deliberate blocking after 3000 BCE. There are a number of regional groupings that can be recognised as being long barrows, on the basis of concentrations in the distributions of these monuments, and the use of particular architectural stylings. These regional groups are:

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  • Cotswold-Severn Group.
  • Clyde Tombs.
  • Carlingford Long Barrows.
  • Wessex Long Barrows.
  • Yorkshire Long Barrows.
  • Medway Tombs.
  • East Anglian and Midland Group.
  • East Scottish Group.

West Kennet Long Barrow

West Kennet, is one of the best-known examples of a Neolithic long barrow in Britain. This burial mound is of the Cotswold-Severn type, and is a 100-metres long mound of chalk with flanking ditches on either side. The chamber inside the mound contained the remains of at least 46 individuals in various states of disarticulation. At this site there is also evidence to suggest that some of the bones had been removed from the chamber, a possible reason being for the circulation of living family members. Similarly, there is also evidence of stray long bones and skulls, which seem to suggest that these remains may have come from other sites. This evidence seems to show that West Kennet was significantly more than just a communal burial mound, it served as a locus where bodies were deposited until they decomposed and the bones were sorted and circulated. The long barrows of nearby South Street and Beckhampton, on the other hand, may not necessarily have been funerary at all.

What is clear, given the evidence, is that these monuments, regardless of which group they belonged to, were more than just prehistoric cemeteries intended just for the deposition of the dead, but were instead involved in a whole series of ritual practices designed to bring in the whole community.

Prehistoric Britain - Barrows, stone circles, henges, and such

There are earthworks of different sorts, stones large and small, tombs of varying shapes and sizes, and so on. How on earth do you sort it all out and know what you're looking at? Don't worry, it isn't as confusing as it looks. Here are the major prehistoric monuments you are likely to run across:

Causewayed Camps
These are some of the oldest remains in the English landscape, dating from around 3500 B.C. They consist of a series of from one to four concentric rings of banks and ditches enclosing an area up to nine hectares. The ditches are bridged by ramps of earth, or causeways, in several places, sometimes with corresponding gaps in the banks to form an obvious place of entry.

In a masterful attempt at confusion, archaeologists have named these enclosures "camps", which they aren't. In only one case out of a score of these camps is there any evidence of even a temporary dwelling within the enclosed space.

What were they used for, then? Probably as a multi-purpose gathering place, combining the functions of livestock pen, trading centre, church, feasting area, and ceremonial arena. Unfortunately, the causewayed camps, most of which have been found in south and west England, are generally unspectacular to visit and have often been appropriated for other uses by future generations, making it difficult to get a sense of their original state. The best-preserved and perhaps the most important camp archaeologically, is Windmill Hill, near Avebury in Wiltshire.

Long Barrows
These are Neolithic (New Stone Age) tombs which are roughly contemporary with the causewayed camps. There are two main types of long barrows those made entirely of earth, called, you guessed it, earthen long barrows, and those made with a chamber of large stones, called megalithic or chambered long barrows. The main thing to remember about long barrows is that they were communal tombs, holding from one to fifty adults and children.

Not only were they tombs, but centres of religious activity focussed on a cult of the dead and fertility. Often, the bones of the dead were used in ceremonies performed at the recessed entrance to the barrow. Another curious thing about the barrows is that the dead were usually interred after all the flesh had been removed, and occasionally after the bones had then been burned in a form of cremation ceremony.

Equally curious is that we don&rsquot know how these people disposed of the vast majority of their dead, as only the bones of a very select few were interred in the barrows. Of the other 99.9% of the population, we have no archaeological record.

The long barrows, ranging up to 350 feet in length, were oriented with the large end pointing roughly east, and the tapering small end pointing west. It has been speculated (you run into the word 'speculated' a lot in prehistory) that this orientation had to do with the importance of the rising sun in Neolithic religions.

The actual burials are always at the large, eastern end of the barrows. Another point to keep in mind is that there were very few grave goods included in long barrows generally some ritually broken pottery shards and arrowheads, but nothing to indicate the importance or otherwise of the people buried. Some of the more rewarding long barrows to visit are Wayland's Smithy, in Oxfordshire, West Kennet, in Wiltshire, and Belas Knap, in Gloucestershire.

Passage Graves
Really another type of long barrow, these are Neolithic tombs begun a few centuries after the barrows, consisting of a central chamber reached by a narrow, low passage, all of stones. Most passage graves are surmounted by a round mound of earth rather than a tapering barrow. The best-preserved is Bryn Celli Ddu, in Gwynedd.

Stone Circles
Beginning as early as 3300 B.C. standing stones, often in the form of a circle or flattened oval, began to be erected around the British Isles. At least 900 of them still exist, though many more must have been destroyed in the march of 'progress'. The most famous, though not the most moving or impressive, is Stonehenge in Wiltshire. And no, Stonehenge was NOT built by the Druids they missed out on all the hard work by several thousand years.

A lot of pretty outrageous claims have been made for the purpose of these circles, ranging from UFO landing pads to observatories for a highly evolved class of astronomer priests. The truth is probably a lot more mundane most would have been an evolved form of the earlier henges and causewayed camps, functioning as multi-purpose tribal gathering places for ritual observances having to do with the seasons and the fertility of the earth.

Aside from Stonehenge, the most visitable stone circles are Avebury, in Wiltshire (author's choice as the cream of the crop), Castlerigg in Cumbria, and the Rollright Stones in Oxfordshire.

Hill Figures
Here and there throughout England, usually on the slopes of the chalk hills of the south, are incised figures of huge proportions cut into the earth. Often visible for miles around, these hill figures give off an air of ancient sanctity. Well, don't sniff that sanctified air too closely, you may find it rancid.

Many of the hill figures you see are recent copies, laid out in the past 150 years. Of the legitimate hill figures, the most famous are, unfortunately, of indeterminate age. The Giant of Cerne Abbas, in Dorset, and the Long Man of Wilmington, in East Sussex, have defied the best efforts of archaeologists to date them. Conjecture ranges from the Iron Age to Saxon times. The White Horse of Uffington has recently been dated to 2000 BC, a good millennium older than had been thought.

Basically a simple bank and ditch enclosing an area of land. The bank is outside the ditch, so they would not have been defensive enclosures but were more likely a form of religious and ceremonial gathering place. The henges are younger than causewayed camps, with the oldest built about 3300 B.C.

The largest henges enclose up to 12 hectares. Some, though not all henges have stone circles within them, while others show remains of wooden rings. The first phase of Stonehenge belongs to this class of monument, though it has now been overshadowed by the famous standing stones which were added at several later dates. Other henges to visit include Avebury, Durrington Walls, and Woodhenge, all in Wiltshire, and Arbor Low in Derbyshire.

Barrow Mounds
These are the most numerous of the prehistoric monuments you are likely to encounter (there are over 6000 in the West Country alone). On Ordnance Survey maps these are often marked as "tumuli". Though most tumuli are Bronze Age, this burial form remained in use into the Iron Age and even reappeared in the Dark Ages. In some places it seems there are more barrows about than there are people. Barrows were a new form of tomb brought to England by the Beaker People around 2200 B.C.

The main thing to note about barrow mounds is that they are primarily burial places for individuals rather than communal sites like the earlier long barrows. The most common type is a simple round bowl like an upended pudding. Ingenuously, they are called bowl barrows. Later developments in the Bronze Age include bell, disc, saucer, and pond round barrows, most of which are found in Dorset and Wiltshire.

The other point to remember about barrow mounds is that the burials within them sometimes contained elaborate grave goods. In the Iron Age the important individual being buried, man or woman, was arrayed in full dress, with a stash of goods laid by to indicate his or her importance, though in the Bronze Age burial dress was rare.

This is in stark contrast to the simplicity of the earlier communal graves typified by long barrows. Bronze Age barrows are usually burial places for the remains of important individuals as with the Neolithic, we simply have no idea how most people&rsquos remains were disposed of.

Barrows don&rsquot always contain a burial, and of those that do, cremation was more common than a buried skeleton. One theory is that their prime function was not funereal, but as a territory marker. They are often sited at the edges of a geographic territory, and always not on the true tops of the hills but on the apparent horizon where they could have been seen from furthest away.

They are generally sited in areas that would have been open land, such as heath or downland, not in woods where they couldn&rsquot have been seen. When new, the mounds of fresh earth or chalk would have been very impressive indeed.

Hill Forts
Dating from the Iron Age (approximately 700 B.C. to 50 A.D.) these hilltop enclosures are the youngest of the prehistoric remains to be seen. They are defensive structures enclosing high places with rings of ditches and banks. Often there were wooden or stone walls atop the banks as a further barrier. In some cases a series of concentric ditches and banks were built.

The hill forts do not seem to have been places of permanent settlement but may have been emergency assembly points for tribes, or the case of the smaller forts, even single families. There are thousands of hill forts throughout the British Isles in various stages of repair, though the most spectacular is without a doubt Maiden Castle in Dorset, while Uffington in Oxfordshire (just above the White Horse) is well worth a visit.

There you have it, a mini-guide to the strange and interesting world of ancient remains that can be seen around England. Hopefully, you now have enough information to impress your fellow travellers and understand what you are looking at.

Belas Knap Long Barrow today

Today Belas Knap Long Barrow is managed by English Heritage and has been restored to its original condition, presenting a fascinating look into ancient life in Britain. Once a clearly significant burial site, it is 54 m long, 18 m wide and over 4m high, with the false entrance and side chambers still visible today.

The atmospheric chamber tombs inside the mound now remain open, allowing visitors to enter inside and see them up close. To get a further idea of the site’s significance, information boards give its intriguing history as well as a diagram of the various chambers inside.

Utqiagvik is the northernmost city in the United States and the ninth northernmost city in the world.

It is 320 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

When the sun sets here on Nov. 18 or 19, it doesn’t rise again for 65 days.

Utqiagvik is not connected by road to the rest of Alaska, even though it is the economic center of the North Slope Borough.

More than 4,000 people live here and survive largely by hunting whales, seals, polar bears, walrus, waterfowl, caribou, and catching fish from the Arctic Ocean or nearby rivers and lakes.

Archaeological sites in the area indicate the Inupiat lived in this area as far back as 500 AD.

Point Barrow, a headland nine miles from town, is where the Chukchi and Beaufort seas meet.

Scientists say the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, and former North Slope Borough Mayor Edward Itta has called Utqiagvik “ground zero for climate-change science.”

On average, Utqiagvik’s high temperature is above freezing only 120 days per year, while temperatures are at or below zero degrees 160 days per year.

Utqiagvik was the setting for 2011's Hollywood movie “Big Miracle” about an effort to rescue three whales trapped in sea ice.

These rare photos of Bonnie and Clyde reveal the dark reality of America’s iconic criminal couple

Barrow’s stolen Ford V8, 1934. (Courtesy PDNB Gallery, Dallas, TX)

Warning: graphic photos follow

D eath came violently for Bonnie and Clyde. The posse that ambushed them boasted of emptying multiple tommy guns into the car carrying America’s most famous fugitives. The undertaker later claimed he had trouble embalming the bodies because there were so many bullet holes.

The ugly end of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow was photographed in stark contrast to the light-hearted portraits which made them household names in 1933. Rolls of film discovered by police after a botched raid in a Joplin, Missouri apartment were developed and published. The snapshots showed a couple of kids smiling, posing as gangsters, and smoking cigars. In the depths of the Great Depression, while droughts turned the Great Plains into dust, disillusioned Americans didn’t have much to believe in anymore. The romantic notion of two love-struck bank robbers tearing their way through the heartland must have captured the hearts of the 15 million unemployed standing in breadlines across the country.

A year later the romance was gone. The couple and their gang were now infamous, forcing them to skulk from town to town looking for safe places to lay low. Clashes with law enforcement grew more frequent and more violent, and while Barrow had always seemed intent on gunning down police officers public opinion really changed after Parker was implicated in the brutal slaying of a Texas highway patrolman. She was no longer a novelty, the smiling woman posed with a machine gun. Now she was an animal. It didn’t matter that the story of her involvement proved to be untrue.

By the time Parker and Barrow were gunned down in Louisiana on May 23rd, 1934, fascination with them had become as dark and disturbing as their multi-state robbery, kidnapping and killing spree. Crowds descended upon the scene of their deaths, cutting locks of hair and pieces of clothing from the corpses before police could regain control.

As for these rare photos, “they were owned by a pack rat from South Texas who gave them to his niece,” says Missy Finger, co-director of PDNB Gallery, where they are being displayed. “He received them from someone who worked at the local newspaper in town.”

Bonnie & Clyde: The End is on exhibit at PDNB Gallery through November 11th, 2017.

Clyde Barrow, 1934. (Courtesy PDNB Gallery, Dallas, TX)

Long Barrow - History

In the lower Medway valley, on both sides of the river, are a number of large sarsen stones which are collectively known as The Medway Megaliths. They were moved there between 2500-1700 BC and were part of Neolithic, chambered long barrows, which were ancient burial tombs.

The Medway Megaliths are the only groups of megaliths in eastern England. They consist of, on the east side of the River Medway: Kit's Coty House, Little Kit's Coty House, the Upper White Horse Stone, and the Coffin Stone. On the west side of the river are: the Coldrum Stones, Addington Long Barrow, and the Chestnuts Long Barrow.

Kit's Coty House stands near the edge of a field, on Blue Bell Hill near Aylesford. The four stones standing there are in fact the entrance to a now destroyed 70 metre, long barrow. The stones are sarsen stones, the same type of stone used to build Stonehenge.

The three upright stones and horizontal capstone rise to a height of almost three metres. Another stone, known as the General's Stone, once lay at the west end of the barrow, but this was destroyed in 1867.

Samuel Pepys, the famous naval administrator and diarist, once visited the stones and wrote: "Three great stones standing upright and a great round one lying on them, of great bigness, although not so big as those on Salisbury Plain. But certainly it is a thing of great antiquity, and I am mightily glad to see it."

The site was investigated in 1854 by Thomas Wright, who found "Rude Pottery" beneath the stones. In 1885 the site became one of the first sites in Britain to become a Scheduled Ancient Monument, and a few years later metal railings were placed around the stones, unfortunately the rest of the barrow was outside the railings, and was ploughed away.

Recent excavations took place in advance of the nearby High Speed Rail Link, and remains of a Neolithic longhouse were uncovered. The site is also traditionally known as the burial site of Catigern, brother of Vortimer and son off Vortigern, following a battle with the Saxon Horsa, listed in The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles as taking place in 455 AD.

Little Kit's Coty House, or "The Countless Stones" as they are also called, lie about 450 metres south of Kit's Coty House. They are the collapsed remains of another Neolithic long barrow, and the sarsen stones are believed to have been pushed over in the 17th Century.

They are known as "The Countless Stones", as it is said that whenever you count the stones, you come up with a different number of stones each time. Stories are also told of the fate of people who have tried.

William Stukeley attempted to reconstruct the damaged tomb in plan in the 18th century. Archaeological evaluation trenching in 1989 found no clear evidence of any surrounding quarry ditch which would normally have been excavated to provide material for a covering barrow. Iron Age activity was found close by.

The Coffin Stone is 400 metres west of the Countless Stones in the middle of a vineyard. It is a rectangular stone lying flat and measuring 4.4 metres long and 2.8 metres wide. Two smaller stones lie nearby.

In 1836 local farmers found "a sack of bones" underneath the stone, the only record of this is written, and it is uncertain what happened to the bones. It is possibly the remains of a chambered long barrow, further archaeological excavation was carried out in the summer of 2008 and the evidence did not suggest this, but it was inconclusive.

The Coldrum Stones are another set of the Medway Megaliths, these ones are west of the River Medway near Trottiscliffe. Despite suffering badly from explorers and treasure hunters, it is the best preserved site of the Medway Megaliths group.

The Coldrum Long Barrow, or "Coldrum Stones" as they are sometimes called, are often mistaken for a stone circle, but they are the remains of a Neolithic long barrow. When the barrow was excavated in 1910, the remains of 22 people were found in the central chamber, including the skull of one who had been placed on a raised shelf. Many of the long bones appeared deliberately broken and some have been diagnosed with rheumatism.

Further investigations took place in 1922, 1923 and 1926 which found a flint 'saw' and several pieces of pottery including a Saxon sherd.

The Chestnuts is an excavated long barrow on private land at Addington. The burial mound has gone, but the large sarsen stones remain, some of them recently re-erected. Four large upright stones at the front mark the facade, and four more in the centre were part of the central chamber.

An even larger stone at the side is probably a fallen capstone. There may have originally been another stone in the central chamber dividing it in two, and probably another stone for blocking the entrance.

In 1957 John Alexander excavated the site and found the remains of the cremated bones of at least nine people, and objects from the late Neolithic, or Early Bronze Age were found. The chamber was found to be about 4 metres long, 2 metres wide, and about 3 metres high. The mound was estimated at 20 metres long and perhaps 15 metres wide, facing roughly east.

The Chestnuts can be viewed by appointment by contacting the owner of the site. She gives an excellent tour of the barrow, and the nearby Addington Long barrow, for only a small fee.

Near the Chestnuts, is the Addington long barrow. This badly damaged long barrow has a road running through the middle. The barrow is 60 metres in length and varies from 14 metres to 11 metres in width.



The barrows in the Inventory are numbered individually within each parish, generally in the order S.W. to N.E. Each barrow group is described under that parish in which the predominating number of barrows occurs, those in adjacent parishes being crossreferenced thereto the different parishes are indicated by subheadings in the group entry. All the groups, except those on the Ridgeway, are given reference letters (A, B, AA, AB, etc.) in the order that they are described under parishes in the Inventory R is reserved for the Ridgeway Group (see p. 425), its component groups (R. 1–14) being numbered from W. to E. In addition, groups are given names of local derivation wherever possible. A register of barrow groups is given on pp. 429–30. The titles of round barrows described individually are printed in italics, those of barrows under group headings in ordinary type.

The position of each barrow is given exactly by a grid reference and generally by a topographical description. Relative distances are therefore only given between and within groups and clusters. Measurements between round barrows are from centre to centre, unless they are actually or almost touching when the phrase 'immediately adjacent' is used.

Since most barrows have been damaged, their character and even their identification as barrows may be in doubt. A question-mark is used to mean 'probable' or 'probably': thus 'Barrow (?)' is a mound which is more likely to be a barrow than anything else, as distinct from 'Mound, possible barrow' a question-mark after a type description means that the doubt is only about the type, e.g. 'Bell (?)'. 'Ploughed' implies that the mound has been spread and is therefore lower and of greater diameter than it was formerly. Unless otherwise indicated, the diameter given is that of the mound only dimensions of other barrow components are also quoted where possible. Heights of mounds on a slope are given as a mean measurement.

Most of the barrows have already been numbered in L. V. Grinsell, Dorset Barrows (1959). Correlations with this and other systems of numbering, principally in C. Warne, Celtic Tumuli of Dorset (1866), and the E. Cunnington MS. (c. 1890) in D.C.M., are given below in concordances (long barrows, p. 433 round barrows, p. 474). References to other main sources occur at the end of individual barrow descriptions and, if it is uncertain exactly which barrows are involved, in the introductions under the parish headings. Omission from this Inventory of examples shown as 'Tumuli' on Ordnance Survey maps or listed in Dorset Barrows means that evidence exists that these features are not barrows some of them are included under Mounds (see below, p. 480).

In the statistics quoted below, all numbered barrows, certain, probable and possible, are included. Multiple barrows (see p. 422) are treated as single monuments.

Long Barrows: Introduction

There are nine, possibly twelve, long barrows in the Dorset II area, all presumably burial mounds of the Neolithic period. They comprise: five earthen long barrows and three more mounds which are probably earthen long barrows one bank barrow the Maiden Castle 'long mound' (probably best regarded as a bank barrow) and one chambered long barrow and a second, doubtful, example. Three other long barrows, already described in Dorset I, are considered in relation to the huge group of barrows on the Ridgeway (see p. 425) these are the bank barrow Long Bredy (8), and the 'bank barrows' Kingston Russell (6d) and (6i), now reclassified as long barrows. In making this reclassification we are guided by the definition of a bank barrow which requires a length greater than that of the normal long barrow, parallel sides, and parallel side ditches which do not return round the ends. (fn. 1)

All the long mounds are situated on chalk, except for Portesham (33), which is on limestone. Their siting varies from 200 ft. above O.D. at Bere Regis (66) to just over 600 ft. at Corfe Castle (181), and most appear to have been deliberately placed just off the highest point in the locality. From a distance therefore they appear in silhouette only from certain directions, though modern features such as hedges often make them less prominent. The bank barrows particularly seem carefully placed for visibility from or towards certain points. It must always be borne in mind, however, that in most cases we can never know for certain how visibility might have been affected by vegetation or artificial structures in the prehistoric period.

Most of the mounds are between 100 ft. and 300 ft. long, the four shorter examples being damaged or doubtful the bank barrow Broadmayne (19), however, attains 600 ft. and the Maiden Castle 'long mound', Winterborne St. Martin (23), 1790 ft. They vary in width from 40 ft., Corfe Castle (181), to 88 ft., Winterbourne Steepleton (13), the latter being the only true wedge-shaped example. In height they range from 1¼ ft., Winterborne Monkton (4), to 9 ft., Church Knowle (34), but the former has been much ploughed and the latter is an unusual, oval type. The majority are between 4 ft. and 7 ft. high and some are higher at one end, always the eastern. In cross-profile they vary from an almost triangular steeply ridged outline at Bincombe (12) to the flat-topped, steep-sided shape of the Broadmayne bank barrow, but ploughing and other destructive activities have often altered the original profile.

Only the 'Hell Stone', Portesham (33), is a certain chambered long barrow, though the existing chamber is a 19th-century reconstruction. With its chamber at the E. end and traces of a peristalith it resembles 'The Grey Mare and her Colts', Long Bredy ((15) in Dorset I), less than 2 miles away to the west. Small loose sarsen blocks in the disturbed portions of Bere Regis (66) perhaps indicate that this barrow is related to those with chambers. The stones Portesham (59) and Winterbourne Steepleton (65) cannot be regarded as the undisputed remains of chambered long barrows (see Stones below).

With two exceptions, Winterborne Monkton (3) and (4), the long barrows are aligned within 45° of an E.-W. line. The significance of this is uncertain, but it seems probable that in some instances they are directed towards local features rather than towards the sun, moon or stars. The long barrow Winterborne Monkton (3), for example, points exactly towards the W. end of the Maiden Castle 'long mound' which is itself apparently placed to be visible from the area of the long barrow. The 'long mound' was built across the ditch of the causewayed camp (see under Hill-forts, Winterborne St. Martin (142)), and nine other long barrows are within 6 miles of this monument. This placing of barrows in relation to one another or to other earthworks suggests deliberate siting.

Round barrows, generally later and sometimes much later than the long barrows, were often deliberately placed near them. A round barrow, Broadmayne (20), actually lies over the W. end of the bank barrow, as does another probable barrow over the eastern end of the long barrow Whitcombe (5) (cf. also Conquer Barrow, West Stafford (22), built on the bank of a henge monument). The group of round barrows on Ailwood Down is clustered round the long barrow Corfe Castle (181), and in some other groups the lines of round barrows prolong the axes of long barrows, notably the Culliford Tree Group (Plate 209). Visibility from a distance may however have been as important as close proximity and many examples are provided in the remarkable concentration of barrows along and near the South Dorset 'ridgeway' (Ridgeway Barrow Group, 'R', see pp. 425–9).

The long mounds, Bere Regis (66), Winterbourne Steepleton (13) and, probably, Portesham (33) have been incorporated in 'Celtic' field patterns, the first two at least apparently forming field boundaries. Around Bincombe (12) the negative lynchet on its N. side also suggests a field lay-out earlier than the present one.

Round Barrows: Introduction

The round barrows in South-east Dorset have been the subject of much unsystematic study, a situation largely corrected by the publication of L. V. Grinsell's Dorset Barrows (1959), which drew in part on the material then unpublished in the Commission's files. Amongst the round barrows listed below are a few not noted by Grinsell under the parishes included in this Volume, and there are differences and additions concerning details such as grid references, dimensions, descriptive observations, earthwork relationships, and interpretation of the evidence from the many particularly ill-recorded barrow excavations (see pp. 425, 428). But these differences of detail have not led to any radical revision of the generalisations and lists provided in the first part of Dorset Barrows, though recent studies elsewhere of the Middle and Late Bronze Age in general and the so-called 'Deverel-Rimbury culture' in particular have invalidated much of the earlier work collated by Grinsell which sought to explain and date 'post-Wessex culture' Bronze Age material largely on the basis of pottery typology. (fn. 2)

Round barrows are predominantly the burial mounds of the Bronze Age, though they were occasionally used, and in a few cases actually built, in the following Early Iron Age, Romano-British and Pagan Saxon times. It can, however, be taken that in the area covered by this Volume all the barrows described, with but a few possible exceptions, were built during the second millennium and first half of the first millennium B.C. Barrows covering primary burials accompanied by bell beakers and long-necked beakers were probably built in the first three centuries after c. 2000 B.C., but the great majority probably originated between c. 1700 B.C. and c. 1000 B.C.

The barrow typology on which the descriptions are based is that now generally accepted. (fn. 3) A bowl barrow is simply a round mound with or without a ditch (here specified where recognisable) immediately surrounding it. Only one certain example (Winterbourne Steepleton (20)) has a bank outside the ditch. A bell barrow is always surrounded by a ditch, separated from the foot of the mound by a flat or sloping ledge called a berm. A disc barrow consists of the same elements—mound, berm and ditch—but the mound is small and the berm relatively wide. In addition it is surrounded by a bank, almost invariably outside the ditch. A special type of disc barrow, virtually confined to S.E. Dorset and called by Grinsell the 'Dorset type', has a second ditch outside the bank. It has been suggested that this type takes the place of the saucer barrow—a low, broad mound with a ditch and outer bank—of which there are no certain examples in the area. The fifth main type is the pond barrow which consists superficially of a circular depression surrounded by a bank, sometimes with a single gap such monuments were perhaps not primarily burial places. Bell, disc and possibly pond barrows are associated in particular with the Wessex culture of the Early Bronze Age. There are only a few exceptions to this typology, which by its very comprehensiveness isolates the exceptional. Thus, while the term 'bell-disc barrow' is cumbersome, the fact of its use indicates the unusual nature of the barrow and stresses the presence of features of both bell and disc barrows, producing proportions uncharacteristic of either.

Oval barrows are occasionally found. Sometimes they are clearly related to the true long barrow by reason of their ditch arrangements (e.g. Church Knowle (34)), but others are on account of their size and detail dealt with here as round barrows (e.g. Winterborne St. Martin (28)). Three barrows in square enclosures (Winterbourne Steepleton (24–6)) are seemingly Iron Age or later.

Multiple barrows are also rare. They consist of two or more immediately adjacent mounds apparently forming a single structure, normally surrounded by the same ditch. Double, or twin, bowls are most common (seven examples) Portesham (51) and Winterborne St. Martin (37), both ditchless but with mounds joined by a slight bank, and Tyneham (30), with a common ditch between the mounds, should probably be considered with them. There are four triple bowls, two (Bincombe (44) and West Lulworth (35)) apparently ditchless, and two (Winterbourne Abbas (22) and (24)) with a ditch along one side only. In the same Group (AD), Winterbourne Abbas (26–7) perhaps form a double bell, and Group AJ contains an apparently unique quadruple bell (Winterborne St. Martin (91)). In several other cases (e.g. Winterborne Monkton (9–10)), barrows are conjoined but cut or overlap each other, suggesting they are probably successive and therefore not strictly multiple as defined above.

Although the area covered by this Volume is small it nevertheless contains more barrows than the whole of Somerset or of Gloucestershire and Berkshire added together. (fn. 4) It is of primary importance for any study of barrows as field monuments, and the results of several excavations, ill-recorded though they may be, have a direct bearing on the nature and chronology of the Bronze Age in Southern England. Our aim in this Volume has been especially to consider the siting and distribution of barrows, particularly in groups. A group is defined here as four or more barrows related to one another by proximity, situation or common relationship to some other feature. Three main types of group are distinguished, called respectively compact, linear and scattered. These correspond to the 'nuclear', 'linear' and 'dispersed' types of group recently discussed elsewhere, (fn. 5) though 'nuclear' is there used to indicate a particular type of compact group.

Both compact and linear types of group can be sub-divided. Compact groups, i.e. groups of barrows close together, occasionally appear to be related to one specific focal barrow or 'nucleus', (fn. 6) and have been called 'nuclear' groups. The linear type is sub-divided by the distinction between straight and irregular lines, most straight lines being short whereas irregular lines tend to be strung out over a longer distance. The scattered type is simply a rather loose concentration of barrows. Any group may include elements of group-types other than that under which it is classified. Occasionally other, apparently associated, earthworks occur in group areas perhaps to serve as ritual or mortuary enclosures (see Enclosures, Winterborne Monkton (11), Winterborne Came (49), and Whitcombe (25)).

Particular interest is given to the area covered in this Volume by the consideration of the South Dorset Ridgeway Barrow Group as an entity, consisting of fourteen component groups (R. 1 to 14), with 'satellite' groups, together forming one of the most marked concentrations of round barrows in the British Isles. (fn. 7) Most of the large groups occur on and near the Ridgeway but there are numerous small groups, particularly of linear type, in the rest of the area.

872 round barrows, a few only tentatively identified, are listed in the following Inventory: 195 form the Ridgeway Group together with 38 barrows already listed in Dorset I (the W. end of the Ridgeway Group lies within the parishes of Long Bredy, Kingston Russell and Little Bredy) a further 205 barrows, mostly in groups, lie within the area covered by the Ridgeway map (in pocket), nearly all on spurs projecting northwards from the Ridgeway itself. The concentration of barrows on the Ridgeway and its spurs is emphasised by the fact that half of the barrows listed in the Inventory are grouped there within an area only one-fifth of that covered by the Volume. Allowing for a few unrecognised and some unlocated and destroyed barrows, the total number in the Volume is about half that for the whole of Dorset—some 1800 as estimated by Grinsell (fn. 8) —though the area covered is only one quarter that of the county. Even within the Wessex region, therefore, archaeologically characterised by its large number of Bronze Age funerary monuments, this relatively small area in South Dorset was clearly of special importance.

Outside the Ridgeway area there is no comparable concentration within the Volume boundary, though most of the barrows fall within definitely localised scatters (Fig. opp. p. 634). These occur in five main areas: first on the high chalkland, much of it covered by Chaldon Down, between Poxwell and West Lulworth, with the 'Five Marys' (Chaldon Herring (51–6)) on the northern edge overlooking the heathland dropping N. to the river Frome secondly on the low ridges to the N. of the river Piddle, spanning the junction of the heath and chalk and continuing N. over the Volume boundary and thirdly on the heath on the northern side of the watershed between the Poole Harbour basin and the valley of the river Stour. The fourth area, with perhaps the densest scatter, is on the heaths to the W., S.W. and S. of Wareham though this land is low-lying, most of the barrows are sited on the local ridges between the streams and on the small knolls rising slightly out of the heath. The fifth is on the high ground, partly down and partly heath, forming the ridge between Swanage and Studland and overlooking Poole Harbour to the N. and the sea to the E. Certain areas, however, were clearly avoided. The most obvious of these is the large stretch of heathland along and near the northern shores of Poole Harbour, an area which has not always been one of heath and which may have been partly cultivated in Bronze Age times. (fn. 9) The other area is S. of the Purbeck Hills where the almost entire absence of barrows is particularly striking when compared with the wealth of settlement and burial material of Iron Age and Romano-British times (see Figs. opp. p. 634).

Round barrows sometimes occur in apparently significant relationships to long barrows, mostly in groups (see above, p. 421 and below, p. 426, for discussion of the relationship in the Ridgeway area). Only the Ailwood Down Group, Corfe Castle, on the Purbeck Hills, demonstrates this outside the Ridgeway area. It can be regarded as a compact group of nuclear type, with the long barrow as the focal monument, a relationship emphasised by the absence of round barrows from the ridge for some distance to W. and E.

The Ailwood Down Group is one of the two largest groups in the Volume outside the Ridgeway area. The other, also a compact nuclear group, is on Bloxworth Down with a large bell-disc barrow apparently as the focal monument. (fn. 10) Otherwise most of the groups are on heathland, and a marked characteristic is the frequency with which the whole or part of these groups is based upon straight alignments of barrows. The Five Barrow Hill Group (Tyneham) and the Seven Barrows Group (Wareham St. Martin) are particularly good examples which also demonstrate how advantage was taken of a local ridge in the heathland to place barrows on sites in low-lying terrain so that the mounds are as clearly visible as those on the more obvious skylines of the chalk downs. The use of these low ridges naturally contributes to the linear nature of some of these heathland groups, but the geometric arrangements are apparently deliberate, since other dispositions could have been made. In addition to these short linear cemeteries, there are a few irregular, spaced-out, linear groups, like the Corfe Common Group (Fig. p. 97), as well as a few compact groups the Rose Lawn Group, Poole, is of this last type. Particularly on the heath, barrows outside groups seldom occur singly, being normally in pairs or in clusters or alignments of three. Really low-lying and isolated barrows, like that near Nottington (Weymouth (434)), are extremely rare.

There is a marked discrepancy in the numbers of special or 'fancy' barrows within and outside the Ridgeway area. Whereas 76 special barrows of all types—bell, disc, pond and multiple bowls—occur in the Ridgeway area (29 of them actually in the Ridgeway Group), there are only 33 others in the rest of the area covered by the Volume, and all of those are bell barrows except for two double bowls (Tyneham (30) and (37)), a possible triple bowl (West Lulworth (35)), and the 'bell-disc' barrow on Bloxworth Down (Bloxworth (39)). The relative proportion of special barrows to others in the Ridgeway area is about 1 in 6 whereas outside this area it is 1 in 14.

The significance of these special barrows is indicated by some further figures. On average, their overall diameter is nearly twice that of bowl barrows, both ditched and un-ditched. The average overall diameter of a bowl barrow within the strict limits of this Volume is 54 ft. and that of a special barrow is just over 100 ft. The difference is further emphasised by the fact that whereas the largest number of special barrows have diameters of about 100 ft., the majority of the bowl barrows fall within a bracket of 30 ft. to 50 ft. A further quarter have diameters of 30 ft. and less, though some apparently ditched bowls (possibly bells) are over 100 ft. in diameter. The comparison might be made by saying that if all the bowl barrows in Dorset II were put side by side in a straight line, they would stretch for about 8 miles. A similar line of special barrows would be just over 1½ miles long. (fn. 11)

So many of the barrows have been damaged, particularly by excavation in the 19th century, and by ploughing in the last 25 years, that there is little to be learnt now by a study of heights and profiles. Off the chalk, however, and particularly on the Reading Beds, it is noticeable that many of the barrows have short, fairly steep sides and broad flat tops, apparently as original features. Only some 140 barrows of all those in the Volume are apparently undamaged. About 220—a quarter of the total—appear to have been excavated, judging from disturbance in the top of the barrow mounds, and known excavation accounts can be attached to specific barrows totalling about a quarter of this figure. Nine barrows have been excavated by modern methods (Arne (29), Bincombe (25, 27), Poole (363–5), Portesham (38), Weymouth (416) and Winterbourne Steepleton (46)) otherwise excavation results are almost entirely derived from 19th-century diggings, mostly into barrow centres. In a number of cases, the mound has been shown to consist partly of a turf stack, and in others, particularly in the East Lulworth area, large stones have formed a significant part of the barrow or grave structure (cf. Dorchester (169), with a boulder weighing nearly 3 tons, and Bincombe (24) and Poxwell (12) with small internal ring-walls). On the chalk, many of the excavations produced burials in graves, and in one case (Church Knowle (40)) the grave was about 10 ft. deep. In only twelve barrows is it probable that the excavators reached primary burials of Wessex culture date or type, the best-known examples—Clandon (Winterborne St. Martin (134)), Ridgeway 7 (Weymouth (403)), Culliford Tree (Whitcombe (9))—being all secondary deposits. With the exception of 'King's Barrow' (Arne (36)) on Stoborough Heath, all are on the higher ground, and most of them on chalk. It is perhaps instructive that three of these barrows occur in two separate compact groups (Five Marys and Bloxworth Down), which on other grounds could be regarded as probably having developed from and around a 'focal' barrow.

There is some evidence from S.E. Dorset for the use of barrows for burials subsequent to the Bronze Age. In Bloxworth and Corfe Castle parishes, for example, are barrows which contained several extended inhumations most likely to be of Romano-British date and almost certainly later than the probably Bronze Age type of secondary cremations, accompanied or otherwise, often inserted into the tops or sides of barrow mounds.

There is ample evidence to show that round barrows were used as markers or fixed points in the laying out of 'Celtic' fields and that in general they were deliberately preserved by the farmers of these fields. In Bere Regis, for example, three barrows in the Roke Down area are at 'Celtic' field angles (see Ancient Field Group (30)).

The Ridgeway Barrow Group (Group R) (fn. 12)

'For sight of barrows, I believe not to be equalled . . .'

Wm. Stukeley, Itinerarium Curiosum (1724), 163.

'. . . notwithstanding the many changes which have taken place since that time [1724], it is certain that every enquiring spectator must be equally struck with this extraordinary district . . . where the adjacent downs or the lofty Ridgeway with its prolonged upland crest, are gracefully undulated with these time-honoured memorials'.

Chas. Warne, Celtic Tumuli of Dorset (1866), 4.

South Dorset, particularly north of Weymouth, is dominated by a sharply-defined, 12-mile-long ridge at the southern edge of the chalk downs. This ridge, continued further to the E. by the Purbeck Hills, consists of Upper Chalk, overlaid at points by Clay-with-Flints and Bagshot Beds, dramatically truncated to the S. by the so-called Ridgeway Fault and the escarpment to the Jurassic Beds.

Topographically, where facing S., the ridge resembles a huge rampart, its domed top clearly defined and in places very narrow, notably on Bronkham Hill. It is best shown on the map by the 400 ft. contour, although at several points it rises to over 600 ft. and in one section (on Black Down by the Hardy Monument) to over 700 ft. above O.D. The general run of the ridge is from N.W. to S.E., the higher end being on Martin's Down in Long Bredy, from which there is a slight slope down along the top of the ridge towards Osmington in the S.E. This fact is indicated on the map by the 600 ft. ring contours N.W. of Black Down, and their absence to the E.

The rather more gradual rise to the ridge-top from the N. contrasts with the abrupt fall to the S. The chalk uplands have been cut into by small streams, now mostly vanished, resulting in a series of spurs jutting N. from the ridge towards the valley of the South Winterborne, a tributary of the River Frome. The spurs, together creating a rolling landscape, are all slightly lower than the top of the ridge and form a prominent part of the view to the N. from it. Geologically, they are part of the same formation, Upper Chalk. The same is true of the only two spurs S. of the ridge—Bincombe Hill and West Hill.

Most of the ridge-top has at some time been ploughed and only the south-east tip of Bincombe Hill, Came Down, and part of the col to the south of Northdown Barn, are in modern pasture. Bronkham Hill, presumably as a result of its acid soil, has not been ploughed, though it is pitted with solution hollows. Came Wood on the ridge-top, and Big Wood on a spur, are the only sizable plantations. For the rest, the ridge, interrupted only by dry-stone walls and barbed-wire fences, remains a windswept stretch of high ground providing splendid views, both along its own length and over much of S. Dorset and the adjacent English Channel.

Along nine of its twelve miles, between Martin's Down on the W. and the S. tip of Broadmayne to the E., the ridge-top is here regarded as the site of a large barrow group. Of the 233 barrows in the group, all but seven fall naturally into fourteen sub-groups which together make up the Ridgeway Group (Group R). A further 129 barrows in fourteen groups and 76 barrows in clusters or singly, occur, mostly above the 400 ft. contour, on the spurs and slopes related to the ridge-top. Group R includes barrows in the parishes of Long Bredy, Kingston Russell, Little Bredy, Winterbourne Steepleton, Portesham, Winterborne St. Martin, Weymouth, Bincombe, Winterborne Came, Whitcombe, Broadmayne, Poxwell and Osmington. Most of these parishes, plus Winterbourne Abbas, Winterborne Monkton and Winterborne Herringston, also contain barrow groups and barrows related to Group R in ways discussed below. Lack of barrows on the remainder of the ridge suggests that the concentration is due to something more than the existence of any contemporary route that may have run along the top.

The main reason for describing the 233 barrows as part of one huge group is that they constitute a most unusually high concentration clearly associated with the ridge. They are, moreover, contained on one particular stretch between two bank barrows, markedly similar monuments without close parallel in England. Although the ridge itself continues to the S.E. of the Broadmayne bank barrow, apart from the East Hill Group (R. 14) ¾ mile from it, there are only two further barrows before the Poxwell Gap and only a scatter of barrows beyond. It might be suggested that the Broadmayne bank barrow is placed where it is, most delicately sited on the exact crest of the ridge, because it is clearly visible from the unusual spurs to the S. as well as from the lower ground to the N. The Martin's Down bank barrow at the W. end is even more dramatically sited at a natural break in the ridge. It can be suggested that the two bank barrows define the ends of a length of ridge-top which was of significance before it became studded with round barrows: its length suggests comparison with the function of the probably contemporary cursuses. There may in fact be a conceptual connection between the linear aspect of long barrows and bank barrows (apparently a local and abnormal development (fn. 13) ) and of cursuses and more particularly perhaps, between the ridgeway itself and the ridge-like appearance of the bank barrows. Of the six long barrows in Group R, five are towards the ends of the group as defined by the bank barrows. It may be significant that no henge monuments are known on the Ridgeway. The fact that a large number of round barrows was then apparently related to the demarcated stretch of ridge-top is strongly suggestive of continuity between the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods.

The Ridgeway Group is essentially an irregular linear cemetery because of the nature of the topographical feature on which it is sited and eight of the groups within it are predominantly linear groups. Six groups —e.g. R.7 on Ridge Hill—contain straight alignments and one group just off the ridge-top, that on West Hill (R.12) on a southern spur, consists entirely of a straight line of nine barrows. Other groups are compact, or clustered round a 'focal' barrow—e.g. the greater (western) part of the East Hill Group (R.14) or the Martin's Down Group (R.1). Only two groups—R.4 and R.5—are just a scatter with no obvious coherence. The numbers of barrows in groups within Group R varies between five and thirty-eight. The largest group related to the ridge is that on Winterbourne Abbas Poor Lot (Group AD) with forty-four barrows down in a valley (although still over 400 ft. above O.D.).

All of the groups, and notably the last-mentioned, both on and off the ridge-top, appear to be deliberately sited so that a complex system of intervisibility is created. Clearly the height, and at times the narrow top, of the ridge make it inevitable that some barrows should be landmarks and intervisible. But many individual barrows and barrow groups are so sited in exactly the right place to achieve a striking effect, to appear on the sky-line when viewed from certain points, and to be seen easily from other barrows and barrow groups, that a considerable degree of control and deliberation must be postulated. The great Ridgeway bell-disc barrow (Winterborne St. Martin (67)), for example, though sited off the ridgecrest and in a dip of the ridge-top so that it is not readily visible when looking along the Ridgeway, is strikingly situated on the sky-line when viewed from the long mound in Maiden Castle, towards which it is tilted.

The topographical advantages of the ridge-top are demonstrated by the length of time it has been used as a burial site. The six long barrows show that the ridge was being used in the Neolithic period, and round barrows were built on the ridge-top between the bank barrows and on related sites by Beaker people. Most of the round barrows were probably erected during the Early and Middle Bronze Ages, but burials continued to be made here intermittently for another thousand years, at least until the Iron Age A burials on Ridgeway Hill (R.8) (Bincombe (24)). The ridge's most recent use for the commemoration of a dead personage is represented by the Hardy Monument (Portesham (3)) on its highest point.

There are only two other large areas of comparable barrow density in England and these are both in Wiltshire, around Avebury and around Stonehenge. In the 9 square miles around Avebury, there are about ten barrows per square mile, and in the 12 square miles around Stonehenge, the figure is about twenty-five. Even the whole area shown on the Ridgeway map—some 45 square miles—has an average density of ten barrows per square mile, while an area 1 mile wide based on the Ridgeway and the nearby groups to the N. gives a density of about forty barrows per square mile. Alternatively, the concentration can be emphasised by taking, for example, the arbitrary area within the parish boundary of Winterborne St. Martin which still gives a figure of about twenty-four barrows per square mile. In utter contrast, the Berkshire Downs have two barrows per square mile and the 14 mile long chalk ridge between the Rivers Nadder and Ebble in S. Wiltshire one to two barrows per square mile. (fn. 14)

It might be thought that such a relatively high number of barrows in a limited area involved large numbers of people. If, however, most of the barrows were built in the 2nd millennium B.C., as seems likely, then on average only one was built on the Ridgeway every 4 to 5 years. In the whole Ridgeway area, one barrow was built on average every 2 years, and, even if it is accepted that practically all the round barrows were built within the 500 years around 1500 B.C., on average only one barrow was built every year. People were almost certainly attracted from some distance to bury their dead, so even allowing for the probability that only the more important were given barrows and that many barrows held several secondary burials the figures hardly indicate a large population in the Bronze Age.

The main point which these figures suggest is that there was continual sepulchral activity in the Ridgeway area for a very long time, resulting in the relatively coherent pattern we now see. The careful siting within groups of individual barrows, for example, implies direction of labour by persons with a perceptive eye for the lie of the land. This is particularly well illustrated at either end of Group R in the siting both of the bank barrows and of the groups topographically and visually related to them.

It is, however, difficult to trace the development of Group R, partly because there are few definite earthwork relationships affording relative dates, partly because the excavation records are so defective or non-existent (see below).

Six groups on the Ridgeway contain only bowl barrows, which are by far the most frequent type, 205 being recorded. It is likely that excavation would show some of these to be bell barrows, and some of the barrows known only from crop or soil-marks on air photographs, and classified as bowl barrows for lack of other evidence, may also have been bell barrows. The same qualifications must be made for the figure of 153 bowl barrows in the associated area. Such qualifications must not, however, detract from the validity of the total number of barrows in and associated with Group R.

Bell barrows are the next most frequent type, although small in number compared with bowl barrows. There are seventeen in Group R and seventeen (three of which are doubtful) on associated spurs. They occur in only six of the Ridgeway groups, being most numerous on Bronkham Hill (R.6), where there are four in a group of thirty, and on Ridge Hill (R.7) where there are five in a group of thirty-eight. Three 'bell-disc' barrows also occur, two small examples (Winterbourne Abbas (14–15)) in the Poor Lot Group (AD), and the other, with the largest diameter of any in Group R, at the eastern end of the Ridge Hill Group. This barrow (Winterborne St. Martin (67)) is, however, quite exceptional and it is probably misleading to classify it.

Disc and pond barrows also occur, though infrequently, in Group R and on associated spurs. Both disc barrows in Group R are on Black Down (R.2), while of the possible eleven such barrows related to Group R (two on the Bincombe-Winterborne Herringston boundary being doubtful), six occur in the Poor Lot Group and another, a well-preserved example, with an outer but no inner ditch, is in the Came Down Group (AG). Pond barrows are slightly more numerous, there being eighteen altogether: seven in Group R, ten in related groups and one, Winterbourne Abbas (32), in the valley bottom near the Broad Stone. Five in Group R are in the Culliford Tree Group (R.11), and there are also five in the Poor Lot Group. All but two of the others occur singly in different groups. The distribution of both disc and pond barrows shows them to be near either end of Group R, which fact perhaps further suggests that the limits to the group were recognised and thought to be of special significance. Certainly pond barrows seem to be especially related to the Ridgeway Group: there are no other certain examples in the whole of Dorset.

Although about 100 barrows in and related to Group R have been dug into, only seven (three of them pond barrows) (fn. 15) have been excavated by modern methods, and only two of those fully published. The value of the bulk of the excavated evidence is limited. Many of the barrows excavated in the 19th century for which excavation records exist have now been identified on the ground, but there remain on the one hand accounts which cannot be related to any one barrow, and on the other barrows which have clearly been dug into but for which there are no recognised records. (fn. 16) The latter are noted in the following Inventory, while the former are included in Grinsell's lists and used, for example, in the analysis of barrow structure (Dorset Barrows, 46–9), the details of which are not repeated here.

In only a few barrows can it be certain that the primary burial was excavated, and in the majority of excavations it is probable that secondary burials were missed. However, even though dug into by the central hole or trench methods, many excavated barrows have produced more than one secondary burial, and it is quite clear, despite the inadequately recorded evidence, that most of the Ridgeway and related barrows were used many times and over a long period. On the other hand, it is difficult to be certain about the sequence in any given barrow, since stratigraphy was seldom noted, and it is frequently not clear whether the lowest burial found was in fact the primary one. Further, the discovery of burials in the unexcavated, often greater, part of the barrow might alter the interpretation of the excavated evidence at present available. However, Group R and related groups contain some rich deposits, most notable being those from two barrows in Winterborne St. Martin ((134), the 'Clandon' barrow, and (82) in the Eweleaze Barn Group (AJ)) from Weymouth (403), better known as Cunnington's 'Ridgeway 7' and from Whitcombe (9), the 'Culliford Tree' barrow. The finds as a whole show the group to have formed during the Beaker period and Early Bronze Age, and to have developed, probably nearly to its full extent, during the Middle Bronze Age.

Forgotten Wiltshire – Lugbury Longbarrow

As you drive west along the Roman Fosse Way from The Gibb crossroads in North Wiltshire, Lugbury Longbarrow can be seen sitting in a field on the right hand side some 350m away. Be careful though, if you’re not looking and drive too fast, it can be easily missed. In my opinion it is best visited in either the spring or autumn, and to find it turn left at The Gibb from the direction of Castle Combe direction and drive along the narrow lane (the Fosse Way) down through the wooded hill. The road crosses a very small stream at the bottom (often dry in the summer months but pretty when in full flow) and then as you clear the wood it rises again.

If you are driving, start to slow down at this point for as you rapidly approach another narrow wooded area that crosses the road in front of you, you have reached the closest point to the barrow by road (ST 83383 78504 or 51° 30’ 18.77”N 02° 14’ 26.84”W for those with GPS or Map). There are normally plenty of places to park that are clear of the road and will not obstruct access to the farmer’s fields. Facing west and on the right hand side of the wooded area (called Three Stones Plantation) the sign posted bridleway to the barrow can be accessed via a small gate with one of those ‘long metal levers that pull back a bolt’ arrangements.

The field can be quite muddy even in drier weather, and lately in the summer months the barrow has been engulfed in a crop of maize making it almost impossible to see from the tree plantation let alone the road. Walk up by the side of the plantation and providing it is not hidden by crop, the barrow can be seen a little way ahead (at ST 83086 78557 or 51° 30’ 20.48”N, 02° 14’ 42.28”W).

Quite often while walking in this area both muncjac and buzzards can be seen along with the normal plethora of bunnies, squirrels and other animals. On a normal day I can’t say the site is particularly tranquil because as you draw near you realise the sound of heavy traffic coming from the M4 to the north. There are also high tension power lines that run from the north over to the west which get in the way of many a beautiful sunset. On cold dark days when the clouds are heavy with rain and the crows bark from the swaying treetops, the place can feel quite foreboding. My son always refers to it as ‘that creepy one’ when we sometimes talk about Lugbury.

I however like this barrow, it give you a glimpse that this was once an important place with its three great stones perched at the eastern end of the low mound. If you can get up here on a warm morning in the spring the traffic is much less intrusive, the birds sing from the same trees and life’s problems can be put out of your mind. Just sit down with your back to the stones and enjoy the warm sun, bird song and the solitude.

In recent years this barrow was cleared of much of the debris that sat upon it, and the overgrown elder bush and brambles that surrounded the stones were cut back. For a brief period the stones stood proud at the end of the mound in the warm sunshine but nature, as always, wins the day and the barrow is again being engulfed in her green shroud. The elder too is fighting back and is now springing up in at least three different places around the stones.

Image credit and © C. Brooks

The English Heritage Risk Register describes the barrow as ‘A Scheduled Monument At Risk’ with a declining Trend (EHRR 12290). Unfortunately, and as is often the case, the plough has bitten into the edges of the mound reducing the dimensions over time. The good news is that earlier this year an area around the mound (and well clear of it) has been pegged out. On my last visit in early December this area was still untouched so it looks as if things have changed for the better… at least for the time being.

The Wiltshire SMR describes Lugbury as 54.5m long, 24.2m wide and 1.8m high but I am not sure that what can be seen now fits these dimensions and anyway different sources give you different figures… maybe I will get around to measuring it myself one day. The mound itself is quite low at about a metre high at its eastern end. Here are sited the three stones that form an open chamber and make the barrow worth the visit. Two of the three stones that form the chamber are approximately 2m x 1m and about 100-200mm thick and are orientated parallel to each other so that a larger stone measuring 2m x 3m rests against them. The SMR suggests that this large stone is a cap stone but others suggest this is the remains of a false entrance.

One of the unusual features of the three stones is the large ‘bite’ at the base of the big supported slab. Somebody once told me it had been worked but I am not sure myself. There was another theory that it could have been used to place things inside the mound but I don’t believe there has been anything found there… Who knows! There is a suggestion that the ditches running either side of the barrow, and created during its construction, are still visible. However I have failed to see these even when the lighting conditions have been favourable. We could do with a good aerial photo to check this out. Like the nearby Lanhill a little way to the south the barrow does not command any sort of view from its low lying position but does have the little stream running close by. This is likely to have been significant during the barrow’s use and may have been used as part of the burial and reburial ceremonies that would have taken place.

Antiquarian History:

The barrow is presently called Lugbury but it is thought this is relatively new as it has been know by several different titles in the past including Little Drew, Nettleton and on a 1773 map by Andrew & Dury it is called Lockstone. It was first noted by John Aubrey in his ‘Monumenta Britannica’ in the seventeenth century –

“It lies in the parish of Nettleton, but close to Littleton Drew, in Wiltshire, just outside the boundary of our county. It measures 180 feet in length, and 90 feet in breadth, its greatest elevation being six feet. Its direction is nearly due east and west. There are three stones at the east end, on the slope of the barrow, thirty feet from its base the two uprights are six feet six inches apart, two feet thick, and four feet wide one is six feet six inches high, the other five feet six inches. Resting on the mound and leaning against the uprights is a large stone, twelve feet long, six feet wide, and two feet thick. A cistern was discovered about sixty feet from the east end, containing one skeleton. Another cistern was found on the south side. Three other cisterns were also found, about ten feet long, four feet wide, and two feet deep, formed of rough stone. The total number of skeletons found numbered twenty-six. Several flint flakes were also discovered.”

The remains of this once great barrow are, as is nearly always the case, the result of being raided… sorry… excavated by Richard Colt Hoare in 1821 and then again in 1854-5 by G.P. Scrope. Thurman et all write –

“Here, notwithstanding the weather, the more zealous, ladies as well as gentlemen, visited the fine old position on which the ancient Castle of the Dunstanvilles formerly stood, lying about half a mile beyond the present mansion house and thence crossed the valley which forms the pleasure grounds, to inspect a cromlech and mound, near the Foss Road, known by the name of Lugbury. Labourers had been already at work, and had arrived at three interments, nearly perfect. The company then adjourned to a tent in Mr. Scrope’s grounds, where about a hundred sat down to an excellent collation, highly consolatory under the adverse circumstances of the weather. This being disposed of, Dr. Thurnam entered into an explanation of the discoveries at Lugbury cromlech and with numerous addresses from Mr. Scrope, the Rev. Mr. Fane, of Warminster, and Mr. Britton, who, at the age of 85, made a gallant response to the toast of the “Beauties of Wiltshire,” the afternoon passed pleasantly away. They then inspected Castle Combe church, where Mr. Fane gave an extempore lecture for nearly an hour, upon architecture, as illustrated by the building before them.”

According to L.V Grinsell a golden wheelbarrow resides within the barrow area he mentions a quotation in his 1967 book ‘Barrow Treasure, in Fact, Tradition and Legislation’ –

Littleton Drew, Barrow Lane: anyone digging in the vicinity is asked, ‘are you digging for the golden wheel-barrow?’ (Rev. R. B. Lamplugh, vicar, to L.v.G., about 1950.) The Lugbury long barrow (in Nettleton parish) is near.

To anybody who is in this lovely area of the Wiltshire-Gloucestershire board, please make room in your schedule for a worthwhile visit to this forgotten place.

A Cuban In London

T hey told me it was a steep climb, but in the end it wasn’t much of an effort. The main issue was how to dress. TS Elliot got it wrong. April is not the cruellest month, but the most weather-uncertain one. Layer-shedding is what I call the fourth month of the year. And so it proved to be today.

I started uphill with a jumper, a hoodie and a jacket. Belas Knap, our destination, beckoned further up ahead. Going through a couple of fields, I realised that lambing season had already started. The evidence was the little, Easter-picture-perfect lambs gambolling about, not too far from the ewes’ watchful gaze.

Belas Knap Long Barrow, in Gloucestershire, is one of those sites that connects you to history straight away. It’s over 5,500 years old and it was built by prehistoric people, early Neolithic period. It was a burial place. At least the remains of 38 people were found within the four chambers that make up the mound.

The site was first excavated in the 1860s. However the barrow was left in ruins until 1928 when more digging and restoration took place. There are four burial chambers and a “false portal” (picture below). The latter might have been built to deter robbers, even though not many valuables have been found in the tomb chambers. Another theory suggests that the false entrance was a “spirit door”, making it easy for the dead to come and take offerings..

False entrance known as portal setting (photo by the author)

By the time we initiated our descent, my hoodie was wrapped around my waist and I was holding my jacket. I was also wishing I had at least put on a T-shirt underneath, instead of a thick top. It wasn’t the climb that was the problem but my sartorial choice.


Círculos, ciclos y connotaciones ancestrales. La historia y la percepción de los túmulos prehistóricos tardíos y los campos de urnas en Flandes (Bélgica ), por Roy van Beek y Guy de Mulder.

La percepción e interacción con reliquias antiguas en las sociedades del pasado ha sido ampliamente debatida en la arqueología del noroeste de Europa. Este artículo pretende contribuir a este debate mediante la reconstrucción de la historia a largo plazo de los túmulos prehistóricos tardíos y de los campos de urnas en Flandes (Bélgica). Se centra en el período entre el Bronce Final y la Alta Edad Media ( c . 1100 bc – ad 1300). Al contrario que en Alemania, Escandinavia y especialmente en Gran Bretaña, los datos procedentes de los Países Bajos (Bélgica y Holanda) han pasado desapercibidos en debates internacionales o teóricos de mayor escala sobre el papel del pasado en el pasado. Los estudios previos sobre prácticas de reutilización en los Países Bajos se han centrado principalmente en la región Meuse-Demer-Scheldt del sur de Holanda y noreste de Bélgica, que se solapa parcialmente con Flandes. Estos estudios han sido tenidos en consideración y resumidos. Sus principales resultados son evaluados por medio de un detallado inventario de los cementerios prehistóricos tardíos reutilizados en Flandes. Este estudio difiere metodológicamente de la mayoría en que ofrece una visión de la tendencia diacrónica regional basada en la evidencia (documentada en 12 cementerios tumulares y 13 campos de urnas) y discute sus resultados en seis yacimientos que disponen de datos de alta resolución. Las prácticas de reutilización observadas y las biografías de los sitios parecen ser notablemente dinámicas y más diversas de que lo que previamente se había sugerido.