Historical Wiltshire

BARROWS - The Ancient Burial Sites of Wiltshire

Of the many historic sites in Wiltshire there are none as numerous as the burial mounds in their many forms. Whether it be a long, bell shaped, or even oval barrow we once again show you a little more of the Wiltshire History as we look into the cemetaries of old.

Aldbourne Four Barrows

Sugar hill, Aldbourne near Hungerford.
Bronze age barrow cemetary 2500 - 1500 BC.

The contents of these Barrows are now in the British Museum. Three of the four barrows are of the Wessex bell type of barrow these are eight to ten feet high. The fourth is an ordinary bowl shaped mound, also ten feet high. They were excavated by W. Greenwell near the end of the 19th century. Two of the bell barrows contained cremations and the third a skeleton. Other finds included amber, beads, flint arrowheads, fragments of greenstone axe and a grooved dagger. The bowl barrow had a cremation in a burial cist covered with four sarsen stones. The famous Aldbourne barrow is at the foot of this hill in the field by the A419 just north of the wood. It is a bowl about 100 feet across by six feet high. The mound provided the British Museum with its Aldbourne cup, an incense cup with lid, and two bronze awls, a bronze dagger and beads of faience, amber, fossils and shale.

Beckhampton Long Barrow

Near Marlborough.
Neolithic long barrow 4000 - 3500 BC.

This barrow is 225 feet long by 120 feet wide and 15 feet high and also the acts as the terminous of the second stone avenue out of Avebury. Allthough the mound is large enough to contain burial chambers this seems unlikely. It is assumed to be an earthern barrow, which had timber rather than stone mortuary chambers. Excavation failed to reveal the primary burials though it did uncover one of the Beaker folk, who was buried in the side when the mound was allready old.

Cley Hill

Sturford near Warminster.
The location of an iron age hill fort about 300 BC this single banked hill has two bronze age round barrows on the 17 acre spine of the hill. One of these is silhoueted for miles. Cley hill is also well known for UFO sightings or maybe it is just the outline of the barrow above the hill?

East Kennett Long Barrow

near Marlborough.
Late Neolithic chambered long barrow, about 3500 - 2500 BC.

The largest Long Barrow in Britian being 350 feet long by 100 feet wide and 20 feet high. The sarsens of its burial chamber protrude at the south end. It is a wedge shaped mound oriented north-west to south-east unexcavated and almost certinly intact. This great mound will be passed on for future generations to explore. It almost certainly has burial chambers that are as impressive as those of West Kennet and possibly bigger as much more of the mound survives. It would have been sealed after several centuries of use. side ditches show as lines of darker grass. The barrow stands on an exposed spur at 600 feet. with magnificant views in all directions especially a fine view of Silbury Hill.

Gallows Barrow

Figheldean, near Amesbury.
Early Bronze age oval barrow about 2400 BC.

Now accepted as a barrow. The oval barrow represents a transitional stage between long and round barrows. This one is 75 feet long and 50 feet wide and six feet high. It has produced Bronze Age pieces and a barbed and tanged flint arrowhead. The gallows connection dates back to at least the 17th century. Sarsen stones for Stonehenge were brought down this valley from the Marlborough downs. A mishap lead to one of them ending up at the bottom of the river Avon in Figheldean.

Giant's Cave

Luckington near Malmesbury.
Late Neolithic chambered long Barrow 3500 - 2500 BC.

At 135 feet long by 85 feet wide orientated north-west to south-east about 10 feet high, containing at least five chambers of limestone blocks along the sides. The stones can still be traced and the remains of 20 burials have been found though there may have been many more. However some of the stones from the barrow were removed and used as road building material. The inner chambers were excavated 1960-62 with finds in Devizes museum.

Lanhill Long Barrow

Barrow hill near Chippenham.
Late Neolithic Chambered long barrow 3500 - 2500 BC.

Orientated west to east with a mound 190 feet by 90 feetwide and six feet high. A dummy entrance is situated 35 feet from the higher end. Then ends of the barrow were destroyed in the 1950's. There are two chambers, covered on the north side and an impressive corbelled chamber visible on the south edge, some 20 bodies have been found. The barrow was formerly known as Hubbaslow 'low' being the Danish word for barrow.

Liddington Long Barrow

Liddington, near Swindon.
A Neolithic chambered long barrow about 3500 - 2500 BC.

This barrow is 150 feet long by 40 feet wide and only 4 feet high. The sarsens from the burial chamber protrude from the barrow. It is a local landmark used as a parish boundary. Three skeletons were found here in 1890 during the erection of a farm fence.

Lugbury

Nettleton near Castle Combe.
Late Neolithic Longbarrow about 3500 - 2500 BC.

This barrow has mostly been reduced due to ploughing but it is 200 feet long by 80 feet wide and six feet high. There is a false entrance to the tomb at the East end.
Several of the burial chambers were excavated by Colt Hoare and G.P. Scrope in 1825 and 1855.

Milston Down

Bulford Camp, near Amesbury.
Neolithic longbarrows about 4000 - 3000 BC.

This site has two longbarrows close together. and are orientated east to west and are only yards apart. One of them is 160 feet long by 7 feet high, the other 90 feet long and 4 feet high. This site has obvioulsy attracted further burials as there are latter day Bronze age round barrows on both sides of the road.

Normanton Down

Wilsford, near Amesbury.
Bronze Age barrow cemetary, about 2100 - 1500 BC.

This is the site of the major Stonehenge barrows. The mounds are very impressive but are just sat out on a barren plain. There are many types of mounds ranging from a low disc shaped mound to large bell shaped mounds or even the bowl shaped barrows as well. Several of the finds from the mounds are on display in Devizes Museum.

Overton Hill Barrows

West Kennet, near Marlborough.
Bronze Age burial mounds, about 2100 - 1500 BC.

The largest collection of mound scattered near Avebury. Known locally as Sevenbarrow Hill, its name Seofan beorgas appeared in a Saxon charter of 956. Like many of the barrows they were excavated by Sir Richard Colt Hoare of Stourhead and their contents are on display in Devizes Museum.

Tidcombe Long Barrow

Tidcombe, near Hungerford.
Neolithic chambered long barrow, about 3500 - 2500 BC.

A burial mound 180 feet long by 60 feet wide with four, ten foot high sarsen stones at the southern edge. Unfortuanetly most of the mound is destroyed after a pillaging raid by the villagers in 1750 looking for grave goods.

Upton Great Barrow

Upton Lovell, near Warminster.
Bronze Age round barrow. about 2100 - 1900 BC.

A bell shaped barrow 175 feet across by 10 feet high. Again the contents are on display in Devizes museum, these include a necklace of amber, shale and faience beads.

West Kennett Long Barrow

West Kennett, near Marlborough.
Late Neolithic chambered Long Barrow, about 3700 BC.

One of the biggest barrows in Britain, this is a spectacular barrow measuring 340 feet long by 75 feet wide, and a line of stones at its east end up to 12 feet high forming a corridor 40 feet into the barrow.
There are five sarsen stone chambers inside the barrow and they may be visited at any time by the public. From the many excavations carried out on this barrow there have been about 42 burials discovered belonging to a tribe or family.

White Barrow

Tilshead, Salisbury Plain.
Neolithic earthen long barrow, about 4000 - 3500 BC.

A 255 feet long by 155 feet wide well preserved burial mound. When Colt Hoare opened the mound it revealed a section of black earth indicating a wooden structured burial chamber.

White Sheet Hill :

(Ansty) - Ansty, near Shaftesbury.
Neolithic Long Barrow, about 4000 - 3000 BC.
A long barrow measuring 135 feet long by seven feet high with ditches either side of the mound.

(Mere)

Mere, near Shaftesbury.
Bronze Age Barrows, about 1800 BC.
A dozen barrows are scattered over the hill, but more interestingly there is also remains of a Neolithic Causeway camp and an Iron Age hill fort here. This is a fine example of history from several periods in the one location.