Ancient Monuments

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Pond barrow: one of two round barrows on Pen Hills

A Scheduled Monument in Therfield, Hertfordshire

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Latitude: 52.0422 / 52°2'31"N

Longitude: -0.0544 / 0°3'15"W

OS Eastings: 533536.042075

OS Northings: 239987.511791

OS Grid: TL335399

Mapcode National: GBR K7N.YWZ

Mapcode Global: VHGNB.0XLT

Entry Name: Pond barrow: one of two round barrows on Pen Hills

Scheduled Date: 27 November 1979

Last Amended: 3 August 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010429

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20634

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 pond barrow situated on a ridge north of Pen Hills,
about 600m west of the round barrow cemetery on Therfield Heath. The monument
is identified by a circular bank c.0.3m high and 12m in diameter. The
interior of the barrow is sunken to a depth of c.0.4m with a barely
discernible mound 0.2m high to the west of centre. In 1856 the barrow was
partly excavated by Joseph Bedlam though 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

Pond barrows are ceremonial or funerary monuments of the Early to Middle
Bronze Age, most examples dating to between 1500 and 1000 BC. The term
"barrow" is something of a misnomer as, rather than a mound, they were
constructed as regular circular depressions with an embanked rim and,
occasionally, an outer ditch or an entrance through the bank. Where excavation
has occurred, single or multiple pits or cists, occasionally containing human
remains, have usually been discovered within the central depression, whilst at
one example a well-like shaft was revealed. Pond barrows occur either singly
or, more frequently, within round barrow cemeteries (closely-spaced groups of
barrows). The function and role of pond barrows is not fully understood but
their close association with other types of barrow and the limited but
repeated occurrence of human remains from excavated examples supports their
identification as ceremonial monuments involved in funerary ritual. Pond
barrows are the rarest form of round barrow, with about 60 examples recorded
nationally and a distribution largely confined to Wiltshire and Dorset. They
are representative of their period and, as few examples have been excavated,
they have a particularly high value for future study with the potential to
provide important evidence on the nature and variety of beliefs amongst
prehistoric communities. Due to their rarity, all identified pond barrows
would normally be considered to be of national importance.

Despite evidence for partial excavation, the Pen Hills pond barrow survives
comparatively well and retains archaeological and environmental information
relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed. It
has close association with a bowl barrow some 140m west and a round barrow
cemetery about 600m east. As a group these provide a detailed insight into
the exploitation of the downland in the later Prehistoric period.

Source: Historic England


NAR No TL 63 SE 9, Information from NAR,

Source: Historic England

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