Ancient Monuments

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Three bell barrows and a pillow mound 400m south-west of Knap Cottage

A Scheduled Monument in Alton, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 51.3725 / 51°22'20"N

Longitude: -1.8348 / 1°50'5"W

OS Eastings: 411593.244769

OS Northings: 163723.825973

OS Grid: SU115637

Mapcode National: GBR 3W5.YRW

Mapcode Global: VHB4C.4RVR

Entry Name: Three bell barrows and a pillow mound 400m south-west of Knap Cottage

Scheduled Date: 23 March 1927

Last Amended: 17 January 1991

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015986

English Heritage Legacy ID: 12192

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Alton

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire


The monument includes three bell barrows and a pillow mound, broadly aligned
NNW-SSE, and surviving as earthworks in an area of undulating chalk downland
300m north of a steep south-facing escarpment. The northern barrow stands to
a height of 2m and is 24m in diameter. Although no longer visible on the
ground, the barrow is surrounded by a ditch from which the mound material was
quarried. This has been infilled over the years but survives as a buried
feature c.3m wide. The two southern barrow mounds are adjacent and aligned
east-west. The eastern mound is 2m high and 24m across. The monument
comprises a central mound c.9m across, set on top of what appears as a
broader, flatter mound. The western mound is 16m in diameter and 0.5m high.
The site was partially excavated by Thurnham who found a previously disturbed
cremation burial with an intrusive female skeleton, thought to be medieval.
Both barrow mounds are surrounded by ditches c.3m wide, both of which survive
as buried features. Berms and ditches were recorded prior to cultivation
although these are no longer visible as earthworks.
The pillow mound, which was constructed in the medieval period to serve as a
rabbit warren, survives as a low earthwork 44m long, 6m wide and 0.4m high.
It is orientated NNW-SSE and appears to have been deliberately aligned between
the northern and eastern barrow mounds.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

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 three Knap Cottage barrows are important as they survive well, despite
partial excavation, and have considerable potential for the recovery of
archaeological and environmental evidence. Their importance is enhanced by
the fact that numerous other barrow mounds and additional evidence for
contemporary settlement survive in the area, giving an indication of the
intensity with which the area was settled during the Bronze Age period.
Between 1,000 and 2,000 rabbit warrens are known in England, making them one
of the more numerous classes of medieval or post-medieval monument. The term
"warren" applies more to an area of land then specific features, the most
common of which are pillow mounds. These are low, oblong-shaped mounds of
soil including various arrangements for containment of the rabbits that lived
in them. Most appeared between the 12th century AD and the 19th century.
This example of a pillow mound is of interest as it has been deliberately
aligned on two prehistoric round barrows which may have been incorporated in
the construction of the warren. As such it represents an unusual landscape

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
'Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine' in Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine, , Vol. 49, (1942)
Wilts SMR Record,

Source: Historic England

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