Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Round barrow cemetery on Wilsey Down

A Scheduled Monument in Davidstow, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.6615 / 50°39'41"N

Longitude: -4.5598 / 4°33'35"W

OS Eastings: 219179.0361

OS Northings: 87771.8466

OS Grid: SX191877

Mapcode National: GBR N9.7QL1

Mapcode Global: FRA 17BB.9DH

Entry Name: Round barrow cemetery on Wilsey Down

Scheduled Date: 6 March 1975

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1005468

English Heritage Legacy ID: CO 931

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Davidstow

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Jacobstow

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument, which falls into five areas of protection, includes a round barrow cemetery, situated on a prominent ridge known as Wilsey Down. The cemetery is arranged in a roughly linear alignment as a north western group of three barrows and a south eastern pair. The bowl barrows which form the cemetery survive as circular mounds, surrounded by buried quarry ditches, from which their construction material was derived. The three north western barrows vary in diameter from 15.2m up to 22m in diameter and from 1.1m to 1.5m high. All three have central excavation hollows. The south eastern pair measure from 17.5m up to 26m in diameter and from 0.5m up to 1m high. Both have been subject to past ploughing, and one has been partly cut on the north west side by a track.

Sources: HER:-
PastScape Monument No:-434043 and 434046

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

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. 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, occasionally associated with earlier long barrows. Where large scale investigation has been undertaken around them, 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. In some cases, they are clustered around other important contemporary monuments such as henges. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape, whilst their diversity and their longevity as a monument type provide important information on the variety of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period. Despite some past disturbance, the barrows in the round barrow cemetery on Wilsey Down survive comparatively well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to their construction, relative chronologies, territorial significance, social organisation, ritual and funerary practices and overall landscape context.

Source: Historic England

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