Ancient Monuments

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Two disc barrows and two bowl barrows 900m north of Moll Harris's Clump on Idmiston Down

A Scheduled Monument in Idmiston, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 51.1295 / 51°7'46"N

Longitude: -1.6867 / 1°41'12"W

OS Eastings: 422016.634099

OS Northings: 136739.994853

OS Grid: SU220367

Mapcode National: GBR 624.0DQ

Mapcode Global: VHC31.QV4Z

Entry Name: Two disc barrows and two bowl barrows 900m north of Moll Harris's Clump on Idmiston Down

Scheduled Date: 9 October 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015557

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26783

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Idmiston

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: Idmiston with Porton Gomeldon St Nicholas

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument includes two disc barrows and two bowl barrows which form the
western part of a cemetery of eight Bronze Age round barrows lying at the base
of a wide combe on Idimston Down. The barrows within the cemetery, which is
aligned broadly east-west, lie in two discrete clusters.
The four barrows all survive as recognisable earthworks and, of these, the
largest are the two disc barrows. The south westerly example has a circular
platform 50m in overall diameter which slopes gently from the centre to the
edge of the surrounding ditch. On this platform lie two low mounds. The
central one is 18m in diameter and 0.8m high while the second, which lies
adjacent to it and to its north west, is elongated, 16m long, 12m wide and
reaches a maximum height of 0.5m. The ditch is 4m wide and 0.4m deep and
beyond this is a bank 6m wide and 0.5m high. Excavation by William Cunnington
in 1807 produced a number of cremation burials, three of them accompanied by
inverted urns from beneath one of the mounds, while the other covered a
cremation burial with a pigmy cup, bronze awl and amber beads.
The north easterly disc barrow has a circular platform 52m in diameter in the
centre of which is a circular mound 18m in diameter and 0.9m high. The
platform is surrounded by a ditch 4m wide and 0.5m deep beyond which is a bank
5m wide and 0.4m high. The bank and ditch of this barrow are partly overlain
on its western side by a bowl barrow.
This bowl barrow has a low platform c.30m in overall diameter and c.0.5m high
which, on its eastern side, at the point where this barrow overlies the ditch
and bank of the north easterly disc barrow, rises to a maximum height of 1m.
The surrounding ditch, which is not visible on the ground, will survive as a
buried feature 2m wide.
Approximately 20m to the north east of the disc barrows lies a further bowl
barrow. This has a flat topped mound 25m in diameter and 1.2m high which is
surrounded by a ditch 2.5m wide and 0.4m deep.
In addition to the disc barrow, William Cunnington may have excavated one of
the bowl barrows within this group in 1807.
All fence posts and archaeological site markers are excluded from the
scheduling although the ground beneath these features 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

Since 1916 the Porton Down Range has been used for military purposes. As on
the Salisbury Plain Training Area, this has meant that it has not been subject
to the intensive arable farming seen elsewhere on the Wessex chalk. Porton, as
a result, is one of very few surviving areas of uncultivated chalk downland in
England and contains a range of well-preserved archaeological sites, many of
Neolithic or Bronze Age date. These include long and round barrows, flint
mines, and evidence for settlement, land division and agriculture.
The barrows on Idmiston Down are of disc and bowl form. Disc barrows, of which
the examples here are of exceptionally large size, are funerary monuments of
the Early Bronze Age, with most examples dating to the period 1400 BC to 1200
BC. They were constructed as a circular or oval area of usually level ground
defined by a bank and internal ditch and containing one or more central or
eccentrically located small, low mounds covering burials, usually in pits. The
burials, normally cremations, are frequently accompanied by pottery vessels,
tools and personal ornaments. It has been suggested that disc barrows were
normally used for the burial of women, although this remains unproven.
However, it is likely that the individuals buried were of high status. Disc
barrows are the most fragile type of round barrow and are rare nationally with
about 250 examples known, many from Wessex. Their richness in terms of grave
goods provides important evidence for chronological and cultural links amongst
prehistoric communities over a wide are of southern England. All examples are
considered worthy of protection.
Bowl barrows are the most numerous form of round barrow with over 10,000
recorded nationally (many more have already been destroyed), occuring over
most of lowland Britain. They are funerary monuments dating from the Late
Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the
period 2400-1500 BC. Bowl barrows were constructed as mounds of earth or
rubble, sometimes with a surrounding ditch, and which covered single or
multiple burials. They occur either in isolation or, as with this monument,
associated with barrows of differing type. Often occupying prominent
locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape and a
substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of
Despite limited antiquarian excavation of one of the disc barrows, the barrows
on Idmiston Down are well preserved examples of their respective classes and
will provide evidence of funerary practices which may span several centuries
within the Early Bronze Age. Their construction and use provides information
concerning the diversity of beliefs and social organisation amongst early
prehistoric communities while their structure will preserve evidence of both
past environment and economy.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Colt Hoare, R, The Ancient History of Wiltshire: Volume I, (1812), 217
Colt Hoare, R, The Ancient History of Wiltshire: Volume I, (1812), 217

Source: Historic England

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