Ancient Monuments

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Bell barrow 500m south of Morden Grange Plantation

A Scheduled Monument in Steeple Morden, Cambridgeshire

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Latitude: 52.0342 / 52°2'3"N

Longitude: -0.0968 / 0°5'48"W

OS Eastings: 530653.46077

OS Northings: 239018.131033

OS Grid: TL306390

Mapcode National: GBR K7T.DC6

Mapcode Global: VHGNH.84QF

Entry Name: Bell barrow 500m south of Morden Grange Plantation

Scheduled Date: 26 July 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011714

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24419

County: Cambridgeshire

Civil Parish: Steeple Morden

Traditional County: Cambridgeshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cambridgeshire

Church of England Parish: Steeple Morden St Peter and St Paul

Church of England Diocese: Ely


The monument is situated between the A505 and the Baldock to Royston railway
line on a natural rise which projects northwards from the line of the eastern
Chiltern Hills. This location is clearly visible from the northern slopes of
the chalk escarpment and from the route of the Icknield Way which crosses the
lower ground to the north. The barrow mound is circular in plan, measuring
approximately 35m in diameter and survives to a height of c.1m. Material for
the construction of the barrow, which would have largely constituted chalk
from the underlying bedrock, was quarried from a ditch, c.42m in diameter,
which encircles the mound. Over the years the ditch has become infilled, yet
it survives as a buried feature which has been recorded by aerial photography
as a distinct soilmark measuring about 3m in width. The mound is apparently
unexcavated, although it is thought likely to contain burial evidence and
funerary artefacts dating from the Bronze Age, similar to that revealed in the
mid 19th century when a series of barrows were opened on Therfield Heath, some
2.5km to the east.

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

Bell barrows, the most visually impressive form of round barrow, are funerary
monuments dating to the Early and Middle Bronze Age, with most examples
belonging to the period 1500-1100 BC. They occur either in isolation or in
round barrow cemeteries and were constructed as single or multiple mounds
covering burials, often in pits, and surrounded by an enclosure ditch. The
burials are frequently accompanied by weapons, personal ornaments and pottery
and appear to be those of aristocratic individuals, usually men. Bell barrows
(particularly multiple barrows) are rare nationally, with less than 250 known
examples, most of which are in Wessex. Their richness in terms of grave goods
provides evidence for chronological and cultural links amongst early
prehistoric communities over most of southern and eastern England as well as
providing an insight into their beliefs and social organisation. As a
particularly rare form of round barrow, all identified bell barrows would
normally be considered to be of national importance.

Despite the gradual erosion caused by ploughing, the bell barrow located to
the south of Morden Grange Plantation retains a substantial proportion of the
mound, and the surrounding ditch is largely undisturbed. The barrow forms part
of a wider group of similar monuments distributed across the chalk uplands of
northern Hertfordshire and southern Cambridgeshire. However, with few
exceptions, notably on Therfield Heath and to the south of Melbourn, these
features have been severely degraded by ploughing and can only be recognised
from the cropmarks and soilmarks generated by the fills of the surrounding
ditches. The importance of the monument is enhanced by its rarity as a
surviving earthwork, and by its proximity to a number of these less well
preserved round barrows, some 25 of which (including those at Gallow's Hill
and Deadman's Hill) lie within a distance of 2m-3km. The significance of the
monument is also enhanced by its proximity to the Icknield Way, a major
communication route with prehistoric origins.
The barrow will retain archaeological remains relating to the burial practices
of the peoples who constructed and used it, and to the landscape in which it
was set.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Went, D, The Archaeological Remains on Therfield Heath, (1992)
CUCAP, BLR 15 07/02/1973, (1973)
Ordnance Survey Revision notes 1973 (JRL), 03067 Round Barrow, Steeple Morden, (1984)
Soilmark, CUCAP, BLQ 90 06/02/1973, (1973)
Soilmark, CUCAP, BLQ 95 06/02/1973, (1973)
Stephenson, M, An Initial Survey of Prehistory in the Royston Area, 1980, Undergraduate dissertation

Source: Historic England

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