Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Bell barrow 1200m west of Hill Copse, Wexcombe Down

A Scheduled Monument in Grafton, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 51.3186 / 51°19'7"N

Longitude: -1.6138 / 1°36'49"W

OS Eastings: 427008.675274

OS Northings: 157794.12232

OS Grid: SU270577

Mapcode National: GBR 5ZX.6TN

Mapcode Global: VHC29.Z36Z

Entry Name: Bell barrow 1200m west of Hill Copse, Wexcombe Down

Scheduled Date: 9 October 1981

Last Amended: 13 January 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013325

English Heritage Legacy ID: 12257

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Grafton

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire


The monument includes a bell barrow set just above the floor of a dry valley
in an area of undulating chalk downland. The barrow mound survives as an
earthwork 3m high and 35m in diameter. A slight hollow on the centre of the
mound suggests it may once have been partially excavated. Although no longer
visible at ground level a berm c.2m wide and ditch surround the mound. The
ditch, from which material was quarried during the construction of the
monument, has filled in over the years and now survives as a buried feature
c.3m wide.

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

Bell barrows, the most visually impressive form of round barrow, are funerary
monuments dating to the Early and Middle Bronze Age, with most examples
belonging to the period 1500-1100 BC. They occur either in isolation or in
round barrow cemeteries and were constructed as single or multiple mounds
covering burials, often in pits, and surrounded by an enclosure ditch. The
burials are frequently accompanied by weapons, personal ornaments and pottery
and appear to be those of aristocratic individuals, usually men. Bell barrows
(particularly multiple barrows) are rare nationally, with less than 250 known
examples, most of which are in Wessex. Their richness in terms of grave goods
provides evidence for chronological and cultural links amongst early
prehistoric communities over most of southern and eastern England as well as
providing an insight into their beliefs and social organisation. As a
particularly rare form of round barrow, all identified bell barrows would
normally be considered to be of national importance.

Despite evidence for partial excavation of the site, much of the Hill Copse
bell barrow remains intact. The monument retains significant 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
significance of the monument is enhanced by the fact that numerous other
burial monuments survive in the immediate area. Such groups of monuments give
an indication of the intensity with which areas were settled during the Bronze
Age period as well as the variety of beliefs and organisation present within
society at that time.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
'Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine' in Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine, , Vol. 49, (1942)

Source: Historic England

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