Ancient Monuments

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Bell barrow and disc barrow on Horsell Common

A Scheduled Monument in Canalside, Surrey

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Latitude: 51.3283 / 51°19'41"N

Longitude: -0.5455 / 0°32'43"W

OS Eastings: 501436.461845

OS Northings: 159804.978323

OS Grid: TQ014598

Mapcode National: GBR GCR.LWV

Mapcode Global: VHFV2.HWG3

Entry Name: Bell barrow and disc barrow on Horsell Common

Scheduled Date: 16 November 1934

Last Amended: 30 December 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009483

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20148

County: Surrey

Electoral Ward/Division: Canalside

Built-Up Area: Woking

Traditional County: Surrey

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Surrey

Church of England Parish: Woodham

Church of England Diocese: Guildford


The monument includes a bell barrow and a disc barrow aligned east-west and
situated on low lying ground on the Bagshot sands. The bell barrow to the
west has a central mound 28m in diameter and 1.2m high which has an irregular
central depression suggesting that the barrow was once partially excavated.
Around this is a flat platform, or berm, 9m wide which is contained by a ditch
2.5m wide and 0.1m deep. Outside of this is an external bank 4.5m wide and
0.2m high. The overall diameter of the barrow is 60m. Less than 15m to the
east is a disc barrow which has a slightly undulating central area which
contains the remains of one or more central mounds. These have become
indistinct over the years and are now difficult to define but are surrounded
by a well preserved circular ditch and external bank. The ditch is 2m wide
and up to 0.2m deep with the bank measuring 3.5m wide and up to 0.3m high on
the north side of the barrow where there is the best preservation. The
maximum external diameter of the barrow is 40m.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Disc barrows, the most fragile type of round barrow, are funerary monuments of
the Early Bronze Age, with most examples dating to the period 1400-1200 BC.
They occur either in isolation or in barrow cemeteries (closely-spaced groups
of round barrows). Disc barrows were constructed as a circular or oval area of
level ground defined by a bank and internal ditch and containing one or more
centrally or eccentrically located small, low mounds covering burials, usually
in pits. The burials, normally cremations, are frequently accompanied by
pottery vessels, tools and personal ornaments. It has been suggested that disc
barrows were normally used for the burial of women, although this remains
unproven. However, it is likely that the individuals buried were of high
status. Disc barrows are rare nationally, with about 250 known examples, most
of which are in Wessex. Their richness in terms of grave goods provides
important evidence for chronological and cultural links amongst prehistoric
communities over a wide area of southern England as well as providing an
insight into their beliefs and social organisation. As a particularly rare and
fragile form of round barrow, all identified disc barrows would normally be
considered to be of national importance.

Bell barrows are a particularly rare form of round barrow, the majority of the
250 known examples occurring in Wessex. The burials within bell barrows are
frequently accompanied by weapons, personal ornaments and pottery and appear
to be those of aristocratic individuals, usually men. Their richness in terms
of grave goods provides evidence for chronological and cultural links amongst
early Prehistoric communities over most of southern England.
This is one of two bell barrows to survive in the area; the survival of
adjacent disc and bell barrows is relatively uncommon and gives a valuable
insight into the nature and scale of human occupation in the Bronze Age
period. Despite some evidence of partial excavation of the bell barrow and
possible erosion of the disc barrow on Horsell Common, both survive well and
contain archaeological remains and environmental information relating both to
the monument and the landscape in which the barrows were constructed. Both
barrows are outstanding examples of their kind.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Grinsell, L V, 'Surrey Archaeological Collections' in Surrey Barrows 1934-1987: A Reappraisal, (1987), 40
Grinsell, L V, 'Surrey Archaeological Collections' in Surrey Barrows 1934-1987: A Reappraisal, (1987), 39

Source: Historic England

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