Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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The Giant's Chair bell barrow

A Scheduled Monument in Downton, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 51.0035 / 51°0'12"N

Longitude: -1.7694 / 1°46'9"W

OS Eastings: 416275.110956

OS Northings: 122699.251792

OS Grid: SU162226

Mapcode National: GBR 527.3GB

Mapcode Global: FRA 765G.JGJ

Entry Name: The Giant's Chair bell barrow

Scheduled Date: 30 November 1925

Last Amended: 11 July 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015936

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26811

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Downton

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: Downton St Lawrence

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument includes a bell barrow, lying on the end of a prominent chalk
spur overlooking the valley of the River Avon to the south east.
The barrow has a mound 28m in diameter and 2.5m high. The outer edge of a
ditch, visible at a distance of 12m from the edge of the mound on its northern
side, indicates that the mound and surrounding ditch are separated by a berm.
The remainder of the ditch, from which material to construct the mound was
quarried, will survive as a buried feature.
All fence 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

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.

The bell barrow known as the Giant's Chair is a well preserved example of its
class. Despite the infilling of the surrounding ditch the barrow exhibits a
largely original profile and will contain archaeological remains providing
information about Bronze Age burial traditions, economy and environment.

Source: Historic England

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