Ancient Monuments

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Bowl barrow in Stephen's Firs: an outlier to a barrow cemetery in Holden's Firs

A Scheduled Monument in Stratfield Mortimer, West Berkshire

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Latitude: 51.3773 / 51°22'38"N

Longitude: -1.0745 / 1°4'28"W

OS Eastings: 464511.6868

OS Northings: 164654.074

OS Grid: SU645646

Mapcode National: GBR B54.R4F

Mapcode Global: VHCZP.BNB1

Entry Name: Bowl barrow in Stephen's Firs: an outlier to a barrow cemetery in Holden's Firs

Scheduled Date: 29 July 1953

Last Amended: 2 February 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012304

English Heritage Legacy ID: 12233

County: West Berkshire

Civil Parish: Stratfield Mortimer

Built-Up Area: Mortimer

Traditional County: Hampshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Berkshire

Church of England Parish: Mortimer West End

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The monument includes a bowl barrow set on high level ground between the
River Kennet to the north and Foudry Brook to the south. The barrow mound is
28m in diameter and stands to a height of between 1.5m and 2m. Although no
longer visible at ground level, a ditch from which material was quarried
during the construction of the monument, surrounds the mound. This has been
infilled over the years and survives as a buried feature c.3m wide. The
monument is an outlier to a barrow cemetery located some 300m to the north
west in Holden's Firs. The road surface immediately east of the barrow mound
is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it 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

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

The Stephen's Firs barrow is important as it survives comparatively well and,
despite disturbance to the barrow mound by afforestation, has potential for
the recovery of archaeological and environmental evidence, especially in
the area of the ditch and from the old ground surface beneath the barrow
mound. The significance of the site is considerably enhanced by its proximity
to a linear barrow cemetery in Holden's Firs. Barrow cemeteries can give an
indication of the intensity with which an area was settled during prehistory
and provide evidence for the range of beliefs and nature of social
organisation present within Bronze Age society.

Source: Historic England

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