Ancient Monuments

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Woolley barrows

A Scheduled Monument in Morwenstow, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.9226 / 50°55'21"N

Longitude: -4.4733 / 4°28'23"W

OS Eastings: 226264.0323

OS Northings: 116597.8565

OS Grid: SS262165

Mapcode National: GBR K5.Q2MN

Mapcode Global: FRA 16JN.T91

Entry Name: Woolley barrows

Scheduled Date: 26 June 1924

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1006719

English Heritage Legacy ID: CO 27

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Morwenstow

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Morwenstow

Church of England Diocese: Truro


A long barrow and a bowl barrow known collectively as Woolley Barrows.

Source: Historic England


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 2 December 2015. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

The monument, which falls into two areas, includes a long barrow and a bowl barrow situated on the crest of a prominent ridge overlooking the source of the River Tamar. The long barrow survives as an earthen mound approximately 62m long, up to 21m wide and 2.5m high with its lozenge shaped northern quarry ditch preserved as a buried feature measuring up to 72m long and 20m wide. The bowl barrow survives as a slight roughly semi- circular rise in the ground of up to 0.1m in height with part of its outer quarry ditch being preserved as a buried feature; it has been cut by later road improvements to the north and west. The bowl barrow was excavated by Dudley in 1962 and again in 1976 prior to road improvements. The latter investigation confirmed that only part of the ditch survived. The long barrow was also partially investigated at this time and a small sample of flint tools and waste flakes were retrieved which were similar to others of Neolithic and Bronze Age contexts for south western England. To the north-west a small hearth of uncertain date was revealed. The area to the south was extensively investigated for a quarry ditch, but no such feature was determined. The northern ditch had apparently been partially backfilled with material from the 1962 bowl barrow excavation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Long barrows were constructed as earthen or drystone mounds with flanking ditches and acted as funerary monuments during the Early and Middle Neolithic periods (3400-2400 BC). They represent the burial places of Britain's early farming communities and, as such, are amongst the oldest field monuments surviving visibly in the present landscape. Where investigated, long barrows appear to have been used for communal burial, often with only parts of the human remains having been selected for interment. Certain sites provide evidence for several phases of funerary monument preceding the barrow and, consequently, it is probable that long barrows acted as important ritual sites for local communities over a considerable period of time. Some 500 examples of long barrows and long cairns, their counterparts in the uplands, are recorded nationally. As one of the few types of Neolithic structure to survive as earthworks, and due to their comparative rarity, their considerable age and their longevity as a monument type, all long barrows are considered to be nationally important. Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries. They are particularly representative of their period. Despite partial excavation of the long barrow and limited remaining evidence of the bowl barrow the two monument classes represent an important juxtaposition of different types of funerary monument and indicate the changes in ritual, funerary and social organisation through time. In particular the long barrow is a very rare and ancient monument class and is the best preserved of its type in Cornwall. It will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, use, longevity, cultural, ritual, funerary and territorial significance as well as its overall landscape context.

Source: Historic England


PastScape Monument No:-32044

Source: Historic England

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