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Group of three round barrows on Ballard Down

A Scheduled Monument in Studland, Dorset

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Latitude: 50.6314 / 50°37'53"N

Longitude: -1.9451 / 1°56'42"W

OS Eastings: 403977.30433

OS Northings: 81306.78935

OS Grid: SZ039813

Mapcode National: GBR 454.71T

Mapcode Global: FRA 67TD.N1B

Entry Name: Group of three round barrows on Ballard Down

Scheduled Date: 20 May 1960

Last Amended: 25 June 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014294

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22996

County: Dorset

Civil Parish: Studland

Traditional County: Dorset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: Swanage St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument includes a group of three round barrows forming a triangular
arrangement, situated on Ballard Down, a chalk ridge on the Isle of Purbeck,
overlooking Studland Bay to the north east and Swanage Bay to the south east.
The two southern examples are bowl barrows and each has a mound composed of
earth, flint and chalk. The south western mound, which is 12m in diameter and
about 0.65m high, was partially excavated by J H Austen in 1857. The remains
of a primary crouched inhumation and a deer antler close to the skull were
found in a chalk cut grave 1.5m deep. A secondary extended inhumation of a
juvenile, with the head orientated towards the west, was also identified 0.6m
below the surface of the barrow mound.
The south eastern mound, which has dimensions of 15m in diameter and about 1m
in height, was also partially excavated by Austen in 1857. The remains of a
primary inhumation and secondary infant inhumation associated with animal
bones and an urn were identified. The upper part of an inverted collared urn
associated with pieces of bone were also recovered from the area of the mound
in 1967.
Each of the mounds is surrounded by a ditch from which material was quarried
during construction of the monument. The south eastern example was recorded as
a slight earthwork during the 1960s. Both ditches have become infilled but
each will survive as a buried feature approximately 1.5m wide.
The northern of the three round barrows is a pond barrow. This takes the form
of a circular depression 10m in diameter and about 0.5m deep, surrounded by an
outer bank 1m wide and about 0.2m high. Finds of pottery, burnt bone and shale
were recovered from the area of the outer bank by E E Harrison in 1967; these
are now held in the Dorset County Museum.
All fence posts relating to the field boundary are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

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

Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments
dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most
examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. They were constructed as
earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple
burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often
acted as a focus for burials in later periods. Often superficially similar,
although differing widely in size, they exhibit regional variations in form
and a diversity of burial practices. There are over 10,000 surviving bowl
barrows recorded nationally (many more have already been destroyed), occurring
across most of lowland Britain. Often occupying prominent locations, they are
a major historic element in the modern landscape and their considerable
variation of form and longevity as a monument type provide important
information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisations amongst early
prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period
and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of

Pond barrows are ceremonial or funerary monuments of the Early to Middle
Bronze Age, most examples dating to between 1500 and 1000 BC. The term
`barrow' is something of a misnomer as, rather than a mound, they were
constructed as regular circular depressions with an embanked rim and,
occasionally, an outer ditch or an entrance through the bank. Where excavation
has occurred, single or multiple pits or cists, occasionally containing human
remains, have usually been discovered within the central depression, whilst at
one example a well-like shaft was revealed. Pond barrows occur either singly
or, more frequently, within round barrow cemeteries (closely spaced groups of
barrows). The function and role of pond barrows is not fully understood but
their close association with other groups of barrow and the limited but
repeated occurrence of human remains from excavation samples supports their
identification as ceremonial monuments involved in funerary ritual. Pond
barrows are the rarest form of round barrow, with about 60 examples recorded
nationally and a distribution largely confined to Wiltshire and Dorset. They
are representative of their period and, as few examples have been excavated,
they have a particularly high value for future study with the potential to
provide evidence on the nature and variety of beliefs amongst prehistoric
communities. Due to their rarity, all identified pond barrows would normally
be considered to be of national importance.

The pond barrow and the two bowl barrows on Ballard Down survive comparatively
well and are known from partial excavation to contain archaeological and
environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it
was constructed.

The monument represents part of a wider group of burial monuments dispersed
along the length of Ballard Down.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 453
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 453
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 453
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 453
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 453
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 453
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 453
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 453
Harrison, E E, Calkin, B, 'Proc Dorset Nat Hist Arch Soc' in Finds from Ballard Down, Swanage, (1967), 140
Harrison, E E, Calkin, B, 'Proc Dorset Nat Hist Arch Soc' in Finds from Ballard Down, Swanage, (1967), 140
Mention barrow ditch,
Mention find of urn on south side,

Source: Historic England

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