Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Tow Barrow: a long barrow on Wexcombe Down

A Scheduled Monument in Grafton, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 51.3182 / 51°19'5"N

Longitude: -1.6079 / 1°36'28"W

OS Eastings: 427424.279455

OS Northings: 157744.70917

OS Grid: SU274577

Mapcode National: GBR 5ZX.8BG

Mapcode Global: VHC2B.24VB

Entry Name: Tow Barrow: a long barrow on Wexcombe Down

Scheduled Date: 10 March 1925

Last Amended: 10 July 1991

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013219

English Heritage Legacy ID: 12274

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Grafton

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire


The monument includes Tow Barrow, a long barrow set below the crest of a west-
facing slope in an area of undulating chalk downland. It survives as an
earthwork orientated SSW-NNE and is rectangular in plan. The barrow mound is
30m long, 22m wide and stands to a height of 1.5m. Flanking ditches, from
which material used to construct the mound was quarried, run parallel to the
north and south sides of the mound. These have partly infilled over the years
but survive as earthworks 5m wide and 1m deep on the south side and 6m wide
and 1.5m deep to the north.
The site was partially excavated by Crawford and Hooton in 1914 and Neolithic
pottery was recovered.

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

Long barrows were constructed as earthen or drystone mounds with flanking
ditches and acted as funerary monuments during the Early and Middle Neolithic
periods (3400-2400 BC). They represent the burial places of Britain's early
farming communities and, as such, are amongst the oldest field monuments
surviving visibly in the present landscape. Where investigated, long barrows
appear to have been used for communal burial, often with only parts of the
human remains having been selected for interment. Certain sites provide
evidence for several phases of funerary monument preceding the barrow and,
consequently, it is probable that long barrows acted as important ritual sites
for local communities over a considerable period of time. Some 500 long
barrows are recorded in England. As one of the few types of Neolithic
structure to survive as earthworks, and due to their comparative rarity, their
considerable age and their longevity as a monument type, all long barrows are
considered to be nationally important.

The 180 long barrows of Hampshire, Wiltshire and Dorset form the densest and
one of the most significant concentrations of monuments of this type in the
country. Tow Barrow is important as, despite partial excavation in 1914, it
survives particularly well and has potential for the recovery of
archaeological evidence for the nature and duration of use of the monument and
the environment within which it was constructed. The importance of the
monument is further enhanced by the fact that several other long barrows and
additional evidence for contemporary settlement survive in the area. This
illustrates the intensity with which this part of east Wiltshire was settled
during the Neolithic period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
'Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine' in Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine Volume 43, , Vol. 43, ()
'Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine' in Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine: Volume 41, ()
'Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine' in Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine: Volume No 38, , Vol. No 38, ()

Source: Historic England

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