Ancient Monuments

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A barrow 400m north of Octagon Farm: part of a Neolithic and Bronze Age mortuary complex

A Scheduled Monument in Cople, Bedford

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Latitude: 52.1375 / 52°8'14"N

Longitude: -0.3999 / 0°23'59"W

OS Eastings: 509607.465005

OS Northings: 250001.902358

OS Grid: TL096500

Mapcode National: GBR H3D.V11

Mapcode Global: VHFQ9.0JYS

Entry Name: A barrow 400m north of Octagon Farm: part of a Neolithic and Bronze Age mortuary complex

Scheduled Date: 19 May 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009777

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20747

County: Bedford

Civil Parish: Cople

Traditional County: Bedfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Bedfordshire

Church of England Parish: Cople

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans


The monument includes the remains of a barrow initially recorded from aerial
photographs and situated between the River Great Ouse and the Elstow Brook,
south-east of Bedford. The scheduling includes a ring ditch which represents
the barrow. The eastern part of the ring ditch can be clearly seen on aerial
photographs. Although only the eastern half of the circle shows clearly on
the aerial photographs, the ditch represented will describe a complete circle,
enclosing the levelled area of the barrow mound. The ring ditch measures 22m
in diameter. Although no longer visible at ground level this monument
survives as a buried feature, its location having been confirmed by
geophysical survey.

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 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'. 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
Neolithic and Bronze Age mortuary complexes often also 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
Geophysical survey has confirmed the survival and location of a significant
part of the barrow which lies 400m north of Octagon Farm. The site will
retain archaeological and environmental information relating to the structure
of the barrow and the landscape in which it was constructed. The association
of this site with the main group of mortuary monuments to the west will
contribute information regarding the continuity and evolution of Prehistoric
funerary practices in this area.

Source: Historic England

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