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Wor Barrow and two bowl barrows on Handley Down

A Scheduled Monument in Wimborne St. Giles, Dorset

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Latitude: 50.9552 / 50°57'18"N

Longitude: -1.9838 / 1°59'1"W

OS Eastings: 401230.519755

OS Northings: 117302.730099

OS Grid: SU012173

Mapcode National: GBR 2ZW.37X

Mapcode Global: FRA 66QL.BXP

Entry Name: Wor Barrow and two bowl barrows on Handley Down

Scheduled Date: 11 November 1954

Last Amended: 18 September 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020066

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35208

County: Dorset

Civil Parish: Wimborne St. Giles

Traditional County: Dorset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: Sixpenny Handley with Gussage St Andrew

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument includes Wor Barrow long barrow and two bowl barrows situated on
Handley Down, overlooking a dry valley to the east, within the area of
Cranborne Chase.
Wor Barrow, the largest barrow within the group, is located at the centre near
the crest of Handley Down. The long barrow is of Early to Middle Neolithic
date (3400-2400 BC). It originally included a mound 45m long, 23m wide and
about 3m high, aligned south east by north west. This was surrounded by a
ditch between 3m to 7.5m in width and up to about 4m deep, interrupted by a
causeway at the north western end, with three further causeways at the south
eastern end. The ditch, which was excavated by General Pitt-Rivers in 1893,
was found to contain two Early Neolithic burials, a sequence of Neolithic
pottery, an antler pick and several burials from the Romano-British period.
The long barrow mound was excavated in 1894, when more burials of Romano-
British date were found in the upper levels and the remains of a timber
rectangular enclosure was discovered beneath the mound. The enclosure had
dimensions of about 27m by 10m, with an entrance at the south eastern end and
it was found to contain six primary inhumation burials beneath a circular turf
Following the excavations, Pitt-Rivers ordered that the material from the
mound should be terraced along the south west side and the area exposed within
the ditch formed into an arena, thereby creating an amphitheatre for
entertainment and games.
The bowl barrow situated to the north of Wor Barrow includes a mound composed
of earth, flint and chalk, with maximum dimensions of 15m in diameter and
about 0.5m in height. The barrow was partially excavated by Edward Cunnington,
Sir Richard Colt Hoare and General Pitt-Rivers. The investigations confirmed
the presence of human remains within the mound and an outer ditch 2.5m wide. A
pit just outside of the ditch was found to contain red deer antler fragments.
More recent investigations by John Barrett and Richard Bradley (1991)
confirmed that the barrow ditch contained evidence for at least three phases
of construction.
The bowl barrow situated to the south east of Wor Barrow includes a mound 11m
in diameter and about 0.5m high. The site was investigated by Colt Hoare and
General Pitt-Rivers in 1894. The mound was found to contain human bone and is
surrounded by a quarry ditch 2m wide.
The beehives and all gates and fence posts which relate to the modern field
boundaries are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them
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

Cranborne Chase is an area of chalkland well known for its high number,
density and diversity of archaeological remains. These include a rare
combination of Neolithic and Early Bronze Age sites, comprising one of the
largest concentrations of burial monuments in England, the largest known
cursus (a linear ritual monument) and a significant number and range of henge
monuments (Late Neolithic ceremonial centres). Other important remains include
a variety of enclosures, settlements, field systems and linear boundaries
which date throughout prehistory and into the Romano-British and medieval
periods. This high level of survival of archaeological remains is due largely
to the later history of the Chase. Cranborne Chase formed a Royal Hunting
Ground from at least Norman times, and much of the archaeological survival
within the area resulted from associated laws controlling land-use which
applied until 1830. The unique archaeological character of the Chase has
attracted much attention over the years, notably during the later 19th
century, by the pioneering work on the Chase of General Pitt-Rivers, Sir
Richard Colt Hoare and Edward Cunnington, often regarded as the fathers of
British archaeology. Archaeological investigations have continued throughout
the 20th century and to the present day.

Long barrows were constructed as earthen or drystone mounds with flanking
ditches and acted as funerary monuments during the Early and Middle Neolithic
periods. They represent the burial places of Britain's early farming
communities. Some 500 examples have been recorded in England.
Wor Barrow is of great archaeological significance. The excavations of General
Pitt-Rivers represented the first `scientific investigation' of a long barrow,
during which many innovative approaches were adopted (for example, the first
use of a photographic tower at an excavation in England). Models were produced
to show the site before and after excavation and the results were published in
detail. Subsequent research has shown that Wor Barrow is unusual in form with
complex origins. An antler recovered from the ditch has provided a
radio-carbon date for the barrow, and this indicates that it belongs within
the later phase of the long barrow tradition. General Pitt-Rivers applied some
unusual approaches following the excavation of the site. Pioneering
experiments were conducted into the rates of weathering within the exposed
ditches of Wor Barrow, such experiments were not repeated for another 50
years. Pitt-Rivers then ordered that Wor Barrow should be converted into an
amphitheatre `for games or other amusements and exhibitions'. The surviving
earthwork is, therefore, unique having been created by General Pitt-Rivers
and, as such, represents a monument to the social theories of a great
The presence of Wor Barrow is likely to have been a significant factor in the
location of the two adjacent bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round
barrow, and the important round barrow cemetery situated on Oakley Down to the
east. The two adjacent bowl barrows are both likely to have Neolithic origins
and, therefore, represent early examples of burial monuments which typically
covered single or multiple burials. The occurence of such a group of Neolithic
monuments is notable and important for an understanding of the development of
funerary traditions during this period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 71
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 71

Source: Historic England

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