Ancient Monuments

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Hoar Stone portal dolmen situated in Enstone Firs

A Scheduled Monument in Enstone, Oxfordshire

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Latitude: 51.9109 / 51°54'39"N

Longitude: -1.4521 / 1°27'7"W

OS Eastings: 437785.581094

OS Northings: 223737.97614

OS Grid: SP377237

Mapcode National: GBR 6T8.5PQ

Mapcode Global: VHBZH.S76F

Entry Name: Hoar Stone portal dolmen situated in Enstone Firs

Scheduled Date: 30 November 1925

Last Amended: 2 February 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012989

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21800

County: Oxfordshire

Civil Parish: Enstone

Traditional County: Oxfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Oxfordshire

Church of England Parish: Enstone

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The monument includes a Neolithic portal dolmen situated on the northern edge
of Enstone Firs, immediately south of the B4022. The site occupies a gentle
north east facing slope.
The portal dolmen is visible as three upright orthostats on the north, west
and south sides of a rectangular chamber measuring 3m from east to west and 2m
from north to south. The orthostats stand up to 2.57m above the present ground
level and measure between 1m and 1.5m across. All the orthostats are c.0.6m
thick. The orthostat on the northern side is broken at an angle which relates
to the broken curve on a stone lying to the north east. This was not the
capstone but forms part of the main chamber. Two further large fragments lying
to the east are almost certainly the remains of the capstone which was
originally set on top of the three orthostats to form the chamber roof.
Originally, the chamber was surrounded by a low ring cairn which is no longer
visible at ground level but which is shown as surviving above ground in an
early 19th century sketch. Although obscured by the build up of soil and leaf
litter around the chamber, the original ground surface and any features cut
into it will survive beneath the extent of the ring cairn. The monument was
partially excavated in c.1899 when evidence of later Roman activity on the
site was found in the form of pottery and coins in addition to evidence for
the original construction of the monument.
Excluded from the scheduling are the drystone boundary walls and the concrete
base for the notice board, although the ground beneath all these features is

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

Portal dolmens are funerary and ceremonial monuments of the Early and Middle
Neolithic period, the dated examples showing construction in the period 3500-
2600 BC. As burial monuments of Britain's early farming communities, they are
among the oldest visible field monuments to survive in the present landscape.
Where sufficiently well-preserved, they comprise a small closed rectangular
chamber built from large stone slabs, with free-standing stones flanking the
frontal slab of the chamber. A capstone, often massive, covers the chamber,
and some examples show traces of a low cairn or platform around the chamber.
Some sites have traces of a kerb around the cairn and certain sites show a
forecourt area, edged by a facade of upright stones in a few examples. Little
is yet known about the form of the primary burial rites. At the few excavated
sites, pits and postholes have been recorded within and in front of the
chamber, containing charcoal and cremated bone; some chamber contents of soil
and stones may be original blocking deposits. Many portal dolmens were re-used
for urned cremations, especially during the Middle Bronze Age. Only about 20
portal dolmens are known nationally, concentrated in west Penwith, Cornwall,
and in the north-west Oxfordshire Cotswolds, with a scatter between these. As
one of the few surviving field monument types of the Neolithic period, and due
to their rarity, considerable age and longevity of construction and use, all
portal dolmens are considered to be nationally important.

The Hoar Stone portal dolmen survives comparatively well, despite having been
partially excavated, and will contain archaeological and environmental
evidence relating to its construction and use, the landscape in which it was
built and its reuse in later periods. This is one of only a small number of
known portal dolmens to survive in the area.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Crawford, O G S, Long Barrows of the Cotswolds, (1925), 159-161
Lattey, , 'Oxoniensia' in The Hoar Stone, , Vol. XIV 1949, (1949), 87
OXON PRN 2256, C.A.O., Megalithic Tomb, (1971)
OXON PRN 2258, C.A.O., Pottery. Coins, (1979)

Source: Historic England

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