Ancient Monuments

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Five bowl barrows: part of the round barrow cemetery on Therfield Heath

A Scheduled Monument in Royston, Hertfordshire

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Latitude: 52.0446 / 52°2'40"N

Longitude: -0.0463 / 0°2'46"W

OS Eastings: 534085.723442

OS Northings: 240263.571556

OS Grid: TL340402

Mapcode National: GBR K7P.TBC

Mapcode Global: VHGNB.4WX0

Entry Name: Five bowl barrows: part of the round barrow cemetery on Therfield Heath

Scheduled Date: 10 August 1923

Last Amended: 16 July 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010431

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20632

County: Hertfordshire

Civil Parish: Royston

Built-Up Area: Royston

Traditional County: Hertfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hertfordshire

Church of England Parish: Therfield

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans


The monument includes the main part of a wider round barrow cemetery and
contains five closely spaced bowl barrows situated on Therfield Heath on a
spur of the Chiltern Hills. The mound of the most easterly of the group
measures 22m in diameter and c.2.5m in height. It is flat topped and has a
wooden bench on its summit. Around the perimeter of the mound is a shallow
ditch which measures approximately 2m in width. The next barrow mound lies
about 8m west, is hemispherical in shape and is 17m in diameter and c.2.5m in
height. The third barrow is situated approximately 8m south of the last and
is also hemispherical in shape. It is 19m in diameter and almost 4m in
height. A fourth barrow is situated l0m north-west; it measures 15m in
diameter and c.1.5m in height. The mound of the most westerly of the group is
19m in diameter and c.1.7m in height. Although four of the five bowl barrows
have no visible ditch at ground level, ditches, from which material was
quarried during the construction of the monument, are thought to surround each
barrow mound. These have become infilled over the years but survive as buried
features c.2m wide. The ground between the barrows is included in the
scheduling as it is considered likely to retain evidence for flat burials and
contemporary settlement.
All of the barrows were partially excavated by E B Nunn in 1855. Burials,
including some metal and bone grave goods, were found in the three central
barrows of the group.
The wooden bench on the most easterly of the barrow mounds is excluded from
the scheduling although the ground beneath is included.

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. Despite partial excavation, these five barrows
survive in good condition, providing archaeological information on the
development of the cemetery and environmental evidence relating to 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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