Ancient Monuments

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Bell barrow and pond barrow on Bacombe Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Wendover, Buckinghamshire

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Latitude: 51.7564 / 51°45'22"N

Longitude: -0.753 / 0°45'10"W

OS Eastings: 486168.565192

OS Northings: 207143.837382

OS Grid: SP861071

Mapcode National: GBR D3L.VV5

Mapcode Global: VHDVK.W3SX

Entry Name: Bell barrow and pond barrow on Bacombe Hill

Scheduled Date: 22 December 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013935

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27131

County: Buckinghamshire

Civil Parish: Wendover

Traditional County: Buckinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Buckinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Wendover

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The monument includes two Bronze Age barrows: a bell barrow located on the tip
of a pronounced spur on Bacombe Hill, overlooking Wendover to the east and the
Vale of Aylesbury to the north; and a pond barrow which is situated on the
southern side of the bell barrow, about 10m from the central mound.
The bell barrow mound is c.10m in diameter and 0.7m high, surrounded by a
platform or berm which is encircled by an outward facing scarp. The berm is
approximately 8m wide and slopes gently away from the mound on every side. The
scarp, which is artificial, enhances the prominence of the barrow and its
construction would have provided material for the mound. It is quite steep on
the north and north eastern sides of the barrow (which overlooks the end of
the spur), measuring some 4m in width and 1m high; although the gradient and
angle are gradually reduced around the remaining circumference. The pond
barrow lies within the southern part of the berm. It includes a circular
depression, c.6m in diameter and 0.5m deep, enclosed by a shallow bank, the
southern edge of which coincides with the upper part of the artificial scarp
containing the berm.
A number of worked flints, broadly contemporary with the two barrows, have
been found in the vicinity of the monument; and a further barrow, a small bowl
barrow, (the subject of a separate scheduling) lies some 55m to the south
west, separated by a broad saddle across the spur.

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.

Pond barrows are ceremonial or funerary monuments of the same period. The term
`barrow' is something of a misnomer as, rather than a mound, they were
constructed as regular circular depressions with an embanked rim. Where
excavation has taken place, single or multiple pits or cists, sometimes
containing human remains, have been discovered within the central depression.
At one example a well-like shaft was revealed. Like bell barrows, pond barrows
occur both singly and in round barrow cemeteries, although they are even more
rare with only about 60 examples recorded nationally. As very few examples
have been excavated they have a particulay high value for the future study of
the nature and variety of belief in prehistoric communities. Due to their
rarity, all identified pond barrows would normally be considered to be of
national importance.

The bell barrow and the pond barrow on Bacombe Hill are well preserved and
will retain significant archaeological information. Funerary remains surviving
in buried features within the area of the barrows will illustrate the function
of the monuments and the beliefs of the community which built them. The close
association of the two barrows will provide stratigraphic evidence for the
sequence and development of ritual practices, and the proximity of a third
(bowl) barrow slightly to the west will allow further comparisons. The unusual
form of the bell barrow, which utilises an outer scarp rather than an
encircling ditch, is also of particular interest. The original intention,
presumably to create an impressive landscape feature, is still realised. The
site is accessible, and the views from its summit pose wider questions about
the nature and location of associated Bronze Age settlement in this part of
the Chiltern Hills.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Allcroft, A H, Earthworks of England, (1908)
Page, F (ed), The Victoria History of the County of Buckinghamshire, (1914)
Dyer, J F, 'Archaeological Journal' in Barrows of the Chilterns, (1959), 24
Dyer, J F, 'Archaeological Journal' in Barrows of the Chilterns, (1959), 23-24
info from Chilterns Project Officer, Damant, C, Bacombe Hill, (1995)
Note of finds by Dr.J.Evans in 1970, 0011,
Site visit by M E Farley 1992, 0011,
visit notes - M Farley 1992, 0011,

Source: Historic England

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