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A mortuary enclosure 800m west of Octagon Farm: part of a Neolithic and Bronze Age mortuary complex

A Scheduled Monument in Kingsbrook, Bedford

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.1345 / 52°8'4"N

Longitude: -0.4133 / 0°24'47"W

OS Eastings: 508699.630051

OS Northings: 249652.2996

OS Grid: TL086496

Mapcode National: GBR G27.4BQ

Mapcode Global: VHFQ8.SMD2

Entry Name: A mortuary enclosure 800m west of Octagon Farm: part of a Neolithic and Bronze Age mortuary complex

Scheduled Date: 19 May 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1007331

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20753

County: Bedford

Electoral Ward/Division: Kingsbrook

Built-Up Area: Great Barford

Traditional County: Bedfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Bedfordshire

Church of England Parish: Cardington

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans

Details

The monument includes a sub-rectangular enclosure initially recorded from
aerial photographs and situated between the River Great Ouse and the Elstow
Brook, south-east of Bedford. It is defined by ditches which show as cropmarks
and is subrectangular in shape. The monument is orientated NE-SW and measures
46m NE-SW by 48m NW-SE.

MAP EXTRACT
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 priod 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 ones, 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'. Burial 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-endedd 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 also include other classes
of ceremonial monuments such as cursuses (which were elongated embanked
emclosures 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 cropmarks 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
importance.
The enclosure 800m west of Octagon Farm will retain archaeological information
and environmental evidence relating to the construction and function of the
enclosure and to the landscape in which it was built. Its relationship with
the group of funerary structures to the north-east will contribute additional
information regarding the continuity and development of Prehistoric ritual
practices in this area.

Source: Historic England

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