Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Oval barrow 1260m north west of Mere Down Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Mere, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 51.1199 / 51°7'11"N

Longitude: -2.2534 / 2°15'12"W

OS Eastings: 382359.541879

OS Northings: 135652.147152

OS Grid: ST823356

Mapcode National: GBR 1W2.M42

Mapcode Global: VH980.W3LT

Entry Name: Oval barrow 1260m north west of Mere Down Farm

Scheduled Date: 23 March 1927

Last Amended: 11 July 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015941

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26824

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Mere

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: Maiden Bradley All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument includes an oval barrow lying on the crest of a south west facing
slope above a complex of steep sided dry valleys.
The barrow includes an oval mound 23m long and a maximum of 16m wide, aligned
with the direction of slope. The mound, which tapers gently towards its north
eastern end, reaches a maximum height of 1.3m immediately south west of its
central point. In the top of the mound to the north east of this point is a
depression 5m long and 4m wide, possibly the result of an unrecorded
antiquarian excavation. The sides of the mound and its north eastern end are
flanked by ditches from which material for its construction was quarried.
These have become largely infilled and can now be seen as slight hollows
although they also survive as buried features approximately 3m wide.
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

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 1260m north west of Mere Down Farm is a well preserved example
of its class. Despite some minor disturbance to its mound the barrow exhibits
a largely original profile and will contain archaeological remains providing
information about Neolithic beliefs, economy and environment.

Source: Historic England

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