Ancient Monuments

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Bowl barrow on Goffers Knoll

A Scheduled Monument in Melbourn, Cambridgeshire

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Latitude: 52.0629 / 52°3'46"N

Longitude: 0.0286 / 0°1'43"E

OS Eastings: 539163.1454

OS Northings: 242449.043178

OS Grid: TL391424

Mapcode National: GBR L8X.N1C

Mapcode Global: VHHKT.FDZW

Entry Name: Bowl barrow on Goffers Knoll

Scheduled Date: 11 February 1926

Last Amended: 25 May 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011715

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24420

County: Cambridgeshire

Civil Parish: Melbourn

Traditional County: Cambridgeshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cambridgeshire

Church of England Parish: Melbourn

Church of England Diocese: Ely


The monument is situated on a prominent knoll surmounting the northern end of
a spur of the chalk uplands which extends to the north east of Royston,
Hertfordshire. This location provides commanding views to the north over the
lower ground towards Cambridge and over a broad valley to the south of the
spur. The bowl barrow is now contained within a small area of woodland, in the
absence of which it would have served as a conspicuous local landmark.
The barrow mound is circular in plan measuring c.21.5m in diameter, and
surviving to a height of 1.2m-1.5m. The height of the mound is slightly
exaggerated when viewed from the south where the gradient of the knoll is more
pronounced. The top of the mound appears flattened although the angles of the
surrounding slopes indicate that much of the original profile is retained. A
slight depression, measuring c.3m in width and 0.2m in depth, visible around
all but the southern side of the barrow indicates the location of a
surrounding, infilled ditch from which the material for the mound was
The barrow is thought to have been investigated in the 1920's by Dr Palmer of
Luton and a small pit located near the base of the mound on the south eastern
side may relate to this activity. A single barrow and three examples from a
group of five barrows located in the vicinity of Heath Farm (some 1m-1.5km to
the south west) were partially excavated in the mid 19th century by the
antiquarian R C Neville (Lord Braybrooke). The records of this work describe a
range of burial practices and funerary artefacts primarily of Bronze Age date
which are considered to be characteristic of the barrows in this area.

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

Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments
dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most
examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. They were constructed as
earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple
burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often
acted as a focus for burials in later periods. Often superficially similar,
although differing widely in size, they exhibit regional variations in form
and a diversity of burial practices. There are over 10,000 surviving bowl
barrows recorded nationally (many more have already been destroyed), occurring
across most of lowland Britain. Often occupying prominent locations, they are
a major historic element in the modern landscape and their considerable
variation of form and longevity as a monument type provide important
information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisations amongst early
prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period
and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of

Despite partial excavation in the 1920's, the bowl barrow on Goffers Knoll is
well preserved and will contain archaeological remains and environmental
evidence relating to the origins and use of the monument, and the landscape in
which it was constructed. The barrow forms part of a wider group of similar
monuments distributed across the high ground between Royston and
Great Chesterford, the majority of which have been severely denuded by
The importance of the bowl barrow on Goffers Knoll is enhanced by its
association with these less well preserved examples, including those excavated
in the 19th century, and by its rarity as a surviving earthwork.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Fox, C, Archaeology of the Cambridge Region, (1923), 326,344
Neville, R C, Sepulchra Exposita, (1848), 84-85
Neville, R C, Sepulchra Exposita, (1848), 17-27
Ordnance Survey revision notes, BHS, TL 3897/4175 Barrow, (1969)

Source: Historic England

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