Ancient Monuments

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Barrow and mortuary enclosure 1100m WNW of Octagon Farm: part of a Neolithic and Bronze Age mortuary complex

A Scheduled Monument in Kingsbrook, Bedford

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Latitude: 52.1369 / 52°8'12"N

Longitude: -0.4175 / 0°25'2"W

OS Eastings: 508405.407526

OS Northings: 249909.339361

OS Grid: TL084499

Mapcode National: GBR G21.WTS

Mapcode Global: VHFQ8.QK57

Entry Name: Barrow and mortuary enclosure 1100m WNW of Octagon Farm: part of a Neolithic and Bronze Age mortuary complex

Scheduled Date: 19 May 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1007327

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20751

County: Bedford

Electoral Ward/Division: Kingsbrook

Traditional County: Bedfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Bedfordshire

Church of England Parish: Cardington

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans


The monument includes the remains of a barrow and a five-sided enclosure
initially recorded from aerial photographs and situated between the River
Great Ouse and the Elstow Brook, south-east of Bedford. The ring-ditch which
represents the barrow can be clearly seen on aerial photographs and encloses
the area of the levelled burial mound. The ditch measures approximately 11m in
About 8m east of the barrow is a five-sided enclosure defined by ditches which
are clearly visible as cropmarks. It measures 70m east-west by 35m north-

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 5 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Neolithic and Bronze Age mortuary complexes date to the period between c4000
and c700 BC. Typically they are set within topographically defined areas,
perhaps between rivers or valleys, and sometimes their topographical
boundaries are emphasised by ditch systems. Within the defined area such
complexes comprise closely spaced groups of features of different types, later
types of feature often being superimposed on earlier one, indicating
continuity of use over a long period of time. Features found on such sites
include round barrows, which can take a variety of forms, of which bowl
barrows are the most common. Such barrows were earthen or stone mounds
covering a burial or group of burials. Such barrows were usually surrounded by
a circular ditch from which material for the construction of the mound was
obtained. These circular ditches are often visible through aerial photography
when the mound no longer shows as an earthwork and are frequently classified
as 'ring-ditches'. Burials on such sites, however, are not confined to the
barrows and 'flat burials' have often been discovered in between them. Also
found on such sites are a variety of enclosures, sometimes referred to as
mortuary enclosures. These are often square or rectangular in plan but round-
ended and even sub-circular examples are known. They are usually defined by a
bank and external ditch and sometimes have opposed entrances. Their original
function is uncertain but it is presumed that they were employed in the burial
ritual and in subsequent commemorations.
Neolithic and Bronze Age mortuary complexes often include other classes of
ceremonial monuments such as cursuses (which were elongated embanked
enclosures which probably served as ceremonial routeways) and henges (which
were major circular earthworks which probably served as gathering places).
A small number of such complexes have individual components surviving as
earthworks but the majority are cropmark sites which are known from aerial
photography and which survive only as buried features below the ploughsoil.
They provide important evidence for the diversity of beliefs and social
organisation amongst Early Prehistoric communities and all examples where
significant archaeological deposits remain are considered to be of national
Both the barrow and the enclosure 1100m WNW of Octagon Farm will retain
information relating to their structure and environmental evidence relating to
the landscape in which they were constructed. The sites are associated with
the main concentration of contemporary mortuary monuments approximately 100m
to the east and will provide important information regarding the continuity
and evolution of funerary practices in this area during the Prehistoric

Source: Historic England

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