Ancient Monuments

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Round barrow cemetery at Holden's Firs

A Scheduled Monument in Stratfield Mortimer, West Berkshire

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Latitude: 51.3804 / 51°22'49"N

Longitude: -1.0765 / 1°4'35"W

OS Eastings: 464369.94783

OS Northings: 164996.742943

OS Grid: SU643649

Mapcode National: GBR B54.JMS

Mapcode Global: VHCZP.9K8N

Entry Name: Round barrow cemetery at Holden's Firs

Scheduled Date: 8 November 1928

Last Amended: 11 July 1991

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012804

English Heritage Legacy ID: 12073

County: West Berkshire

Civil Parish: Stratfield Mortimer

Built-Up Area: Mortimer

Traditional County: Berkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Berkshire

Church of England Parish: Stratfield Mortimer

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The monument includes a round barrow cemetery, orientated SE-NW and
comprising two bowl barrows and three bell barrows located within Holden's
Firs. The bell barrow at SU64336502 has a maximum diameter of 17m and is 0.5m
high. Surrounding the mound are a narrow berm and a ditch from which
material for the mound was quarried. The ditch survives on the west side of
the mound as a low earthwork 3m wide and 0.5m deep and as a buried feature
elsewhere. The bell barrow at SU64396497 has a maximum diameter of 50m. The
central mound survives to a height of 2m and a diameter of 20m. The ditch is
5m wide and 0.5m deep and the berm survives to a maximum diameter of l0m.
The bowl barrow at SU64426494 has a maximum diameter of c.10m and survives
to a height of 0.25m. The bowl barrow at SU64436493 is 20m in diameter and
1m high. The bell barrow at SU64376503 has a maximum diameter of 50m. An
outer bank survives to a width of 10m and a height of 0.3m and the ditch
to a width of 2.5m and 0.2m deep. A berm 5m wide surrounds the central mound
which survives to 15m in diameter. The bell barrow at SU64336502 adjoins the
barrow on its southern side.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

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 Holden's Firs barrow cemetery is of particular importance as it survives
well and, with no evidence for formal excavation, has considerable
archaeological potential. The group is central to a wider barrow cemetery
dispersed over an area of c.500m. Such concentrations provide a clear
indication of the intensity with which areas were settled during the Bronze
Age period.

Source: Historic England

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