Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Oval barrow on Keysley Down, 1040m NNE of Chapel Field Barn

A Scheduled Monument in West Knoyle, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 51.1054 / 51°6'19"N

Longitude: -2.1719 / 2°10'19"W

OS Eastings: 388056.96663

OS Northings: 134019.630835

OS Grid: ST880340

Mapcode National: GBR 1WC.PP3

Mapcode Global: VH982.9GMZ

Entry Name: Oval barrow on Keysley Down, 1040m NNE of Chapel Field Barn

Scheduled Date: 23 March 1927

Last Amended: 26 March 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015702

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26813

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: West Knoyle

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: East Knoyle St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument includes an oval barrow lying immediately below the crest of a
chalk ridge 1040m NNE of Chapel Field Barn. The barrow includes a mound,
aligned almost precisely east-west, which is 33m long, a maximum of 22m wide
and reaches a maximum height of 1.6m at its western end. Traces of a ditch
approximately 5m wide can be seen flanking the southern side of the mound and
around its eastern end. The ditch on the northern side of the mound has become
infilled but will survive as a buried feature.
All marker posts 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

Oval barrows are funerary and ceremonial monuments of the Early to Middle
Neolithic periods, with the majority of dated monuments belonging to the later
part of the range. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds of
roughly elliptical plan, usually delimited by quarry ditches. These ditches
can vary from paired "banana-shaped" ditches flanking the mound to "U-shaped"
or unbroken oval ditches nearly or wholly encircling it. Along with the long
barrows, oval barrows represent the burial places of Britain's early farming
communities and, as such, are amongst the oldest field monuments surviving
visibly in the present landscape. Where investigated, oval barrows have
produced two distinct types of burial rite: communal burials of groups of
individuals, including adults and children, laid directly on the ground
surface before the barrow was built; and burials of one or two adults interred
in a grave pit centrally placed beneath the barrow mound. Certain sites
provide evidence for several phases of funerary monument preceding the barrow
and, consequently, it is probable that they may have acted as important ritual
sites for local communities over a considerable period of time. Similarly, as
the filling of the ditches around oval barrows often contains deliberately
placed deposits of pottery, flintwork and bone, periodic ceremonial activity
may have taken place at the barrow subsequent to its construction. Oval
barrows are very rare nationally, with less than 50 recorded examples in
England. As one of the few types of Neolithic structure to survive as
earthworks, and due to their rarity, their considerable age and their
longevity as a monument type, all oval barrows are considered to be nationally

The oval barrow on Keysley Down, 1040m NNE of Chapel Field Barn is, despite
some erosion caused by cultivation, a comparatively well preserved example of
its class. It exhibits a largely original profile and will include
archaeological remains containing information about Neolithic beliefs, economy
and environment.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hoare, R C, Ancient History of Wiltshire, (1812), 48-49

Source: Historic England

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