Ancient Monuments

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Bell barrow: part of the round barrow cemetery on Therfield Heath

A Scheduled Monument in Therfield, Hertfordshire

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Latitude: 52.0434 / 52°2'36"N

Longitude: -0.0462 / 0°2'46"W

OS Eastings: 534092.922354

OS Northings: 240139.663061

OS Grid: TL340401

Mapcode National: GBR K7P.TBR

Mapcode Global: VHGNB.4WXW

Entry Name: Bell barrow: part of the round barrow cemetery on Therfield Heath

Scheduled Date: 14 July 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009756

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20640

County: Hertfordshire

Civil Parish: Therfield

Traditional County: Hertfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hertfordshire

Church of England Parish: Therfield

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans


The monument includes a bell barrow forming part of the round barrow cemetery
situated on Therfield Heath on a spur of the Chiltern Hills. The bell barrow
lies approximately 75m south of the main group of barrows. It includes a
hemispherical earth mound measuring 19m in diameter and 1m in maximum height.
Although no longer visible at ground level, a level berm c.4m wide and an
outer ditch, from which material was quarried during the construction of the
monument, surround the barrow mound. The ditch has become infilled over the
years but survives as a buried feature c.2m wide. The barrow was partially
excavated by E B Nunn in 1855, although no finds were recorded.

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

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
and a substantial proportion of surviving or partly-surviving examples are
considered worthy of protection.

The round barrow cemetery on Therfield Heath is the largest known example of
its type in Hertfordshire and one of the very few to contain a bell barrow.
These represent a rare class of burial mound with only 200 to 250 examples,
recorded nationally. Despite evidence for partial excavation, the Therfield
Heath bell barrow survives comparatively well providing archaeological
information and environmental evidence relating both to the monument and the
landscape in which it was constructed.

Source: Historic England


NAR No TL 63 SE 9, Information from NAR,

Source: Historic England

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