Ancient Monuments

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Bowl barrow in Isleham Plantation

A Scheduled Monument in Chippenham, Cambridgeshire

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Latitude: 52.3128 / 52°18'46"N

Longitude: 0.4329 / 0°25'58"E

OS Eastings: 565938.222161

OS Northings: 271088.181321

OS Grid: TL659710

Mapcode National: GBR N90.VNG

Mapcode Global: VHJGB.G46B

Entry Name: Bowl barrow in Isleham Plantation

Scheduled Date: 13 October 1980

Last Amended: 13 November 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015242

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27176

County: Cambridgeshire

Civil Parish: Chippenham

Traditional County: Cambridgeshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cambridgeshire

Church of England Parish: Chippenham St Margaret

Church of England Diocese: Ely


The monument includes a Bronze Age bowl barrow located on the crest of a
gentle spur to the south of the Isleham Fen basin. The barrow now stands
approximately in the centre of Isleham Plantation, some 200m east of the B1104
Isleham Road.
The barrow mound is circular in plan and domed in profile, measuring c.36m in
diameter and 1.6m high. The encircling ditch (from which material for the
mound would have been quarried) is thought to exist in a buried condition, and
the scheduling includes a 2m margin around the foot of the mound for its
protection. There are no records or physical evidence to suggest that the
barrow has ever been excavated, although a number of barrows with encircling
ditches and banks were excavated in the the immediate vicinity in the 1930s.
The thorough nature of the excavations and the effects of subsequent
cultivation has resulted in the complete destruction of these barrows. The
Isleham Plantation barrow is now the only surviving example from this small
barrow cemetery, and therefore the only one to be included in the scheduling.
The excavated barrows, however, provide some indication of the wealth of
information to be found in the remaining monument. The excavation in 1935 of
two barrows, located some 230m to the east of the monument, revealed a
currency of use from the Early to the Mid-Bronze Age (c.1800-1200 BC) which
included phases of timber or earthen enclosures before the construction of the
mounds. Both contained flint implements and pottery, and the northernmost
barrow contained a primary inhumation accompanied by a bronze dagger as well
as two secondary burials. The third barrow lay c.360m to the north east of the
remaining barrow. It was excavated between 1937 and 1938 and shown to have
included a ditch, bank and stockade around the central mound, and to have
contained five inhumations and five cremation burials in addition to the
primary inhumation. The mound (constructed in the Mid-Bronze Age) sealed and
preserved a sample of a pre-existing settlement site which was evident from a
number of hearths and a scatter of flint implements and broken pottery.

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

The bowl barrow in Isleham Plantation stands almost to its original height and
is very well preserved. The results of the excavation of neighbouring barrows
(which survived less well) provide an insight into the wealth of
archaeological information which the monument will contain. Funerary remains
together with other artefacts and structural evidence will provide details
concerning the date of the barrow's construction, the duration of its use and
the character of prehistoric ritual practice. As demonstrated by excavation
nearby, the former ground surface beneath the mound may retain valuable
evidence for activities preceding its construction and, using modern methods
of environmental analysis, for the appearance of the landscape in which the
monument was set. The 1930s excavations were of a high standard and made a
significant contribution to the understanding of prehistoric burial practices
in the region. Although the excavated barrows no longer exist, the records and
artifact collections preserve details which place the remaining barrow in
context, allowing further study of this small barrow cemetery in relation to
the wider issues surrounding prehistoric ritual and settlement on the margins
of the East Anglian fens.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Gibson, A M, 'PCAS' in A Reinterpretation of Chippenham Barrow 5, , Vol. 70, (1980), 48-60
Leaf, C S, 'PCAS' in Further Excavations in Bronze Age Barrows at Chippenham, Cambs, , Vol. 39, (1940), 25-68
Leaf, C S, 'PCAS' in Two Bronze Age Barrows at Chippenham, Cambs, , Vol. 36, (1935), 134-55
10232 BA Flint Scatter, (1984)
Map & information board on B1104, Mamre Wood, (1994)
Summary of O.S. notes and CCC visits, Rooke, N, 7491: Round Barrow in Isleham Plantation, (1985)

Source: Historic England

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