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Five Knolls round barrow cemetery: three bell barrows, two bowl barrows and two pond barrows on Dunstable Down

A Scheduled Monument in Dunstable, Central Bedfordshire

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Latitude: 51.8787 / 51°52'43"N

Longitude: -0.5394 / 0°32'21"W

OS Eastings: 500640.076192

OS Northings: 221018.008928

OS Grid: TL006210

Mapcode National: GBR G55.2H8

Mapcode Global: VHFRK.L1QN

Entry Name: Five Knolls round barrow cemetery: three bell barrows, two bowl barrows and two pond barrows on Dunstable Down

Scheduled Date: 31 August 1950

Last Amended: 15 June 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009892

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20422

County: Central Bedfordshire

Civil Parish: Dunstable

Built-Up Area: Dunstable

Traditional County: Bedfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Bedfordshire

Church of England Parish: Totternhoe

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans


The Five Knolls round barrow cemetery is set in a prominent location on
Dunstable Down and consists of three bell barrows, two bowl barrows and two
pond barrows, described separately below. The round barrows are listed first,
from south to north, and are described as follows:

1) Bowl barrow, NGR TL 0064 2096. The southernmost barrow is about 15m in
diameter by roughly 2m high. A ditch from which material was quarried during
the construction of the monument, surrounds the mound. This has become partly
infilled over the years but survives as a slight earthwork 3-4m wide by about
0.5m deep. On the south side there is a low, 2m wide outer bank. The ditch
is linked to that surrounding the barrow immediately to the north (Barrow 2).
Barrows 2, 3, and 4 are bell barrows, having a slight level berm between the
foot of the mound and the ditch. These three barrows are also contained
within a single continuous ditch, which varies between 2m and 3m wide and is
0.3m to 0.5m deep.
2) Bell barrow, NGR TL 0064 2099. The mound is 20m in diameter and 3m high
and has a slight berm on the south side.
3) Bell barrow, NGR TL 0064 2102. The mound is 15m in diameter and 2m high,
with a slight berm.
4) Bell barrow, NGR TL 0063 2105. The mound is 20m in diameter and 2.5m high
with a slight berm. The outer edge of the ditch is almost 35m in diameter and
overlies the ditch around Barrow 5.
5) Bowl barrow, NGR TL 0061 2106. This is of similar proportions to Barrow 1,
15m in diameter and about 2m high. The mound is surrounded by a 3m wide ditch
and a slight outer bank which is cut by the ditch around Barrow 4.
The two pond barrows lie to the east of Barrows 3 and 4. In contrast to the
round barrows, the pond barrows are hollows bounded by raised banks.
6) Pond barrow, NGR TL 0066 2102, to the south (Barrow 6) is 8m in diameter by
lm deep, with an outer bank 2m wide.
7) Pond barrow, NGR TL 0066 2103, 7) has a 2m deep hollow of 10m diameter with
a 3m wide bank.

The barrows were first noted by William Stukeley in the 18th century. Barrow
3 and one other were partially excavated in the 1850's. Barrows 2, 3, and 5
were partially excavated in the 1920's by Gerald Dunning and Sir Mortimer
Their results showed that the cemetery was founded in the late Neolithic and
Bronze Ages and re-used for burial in the Roman period and, later, for the
interment of gallows victims in the Middle Ages.

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.

Five Knolls barrow cemetery is the only such site known in Bedfordshire.
Although some barrows are partially excavated, the cemetery as a whole is
well preserved and retains potential for the preservation of archaeological
remains in and beneath the burial mounds and in the fills of the ditches. The
cemetery also demonstrates a diversity of features including pond barrows, a
comparatively rare class of monument.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Dunning, G C, Wheeler, R E M, A Barrow Cemetery at Dunstable Beds, (1931), 193-217
Simco, A, Survey of Bedfordshire: The Roman Period, (1984), 103
Smith, W G, Dunstable and its History and Surroundings, (1904), 44
Stuckley, W, Itinerarium Curiosum, (1776), 109
Stuckley, W, Itinerarium Curiosum, (1776), 73
Stukeley, W, Itinerarium Curiosum, I, (1724), 73
Dyer, J F, 'Bedfordshire Magazine' in The Five Knolls, , Vol. 8, (1963), 15-16
Dyer, J F, 'Bedfordshire Magazine' in The Five Knolls, , Vol. 8, (1963), 18-19
Dyer, J F, 'Bedfordshire Magazine' in The Five Knolls, , Vol. 8, (1963), 16
Dyer, J F, 'Bedfordshire Magazine' in The Five Knolls, , Vol. 8, (1963), 17-18
Dyer, J F, 'Bedfordshire Magazine' in The Five Knolls, , Vol. 8, (1963), 18
Beds CRO: X69/16, BAAS Minutes, (1850)
Beds CRO: X69/16, BAAS Minutes, (1850)

Source: Historic England

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