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Blewbury Downs Tumuli

Round Barrow(s)


Details of Barrows on Pastscape

Two Bronze Age bell barrows known locally and in early archaeological publications as 'The Warrior Mounds' or 'The Warrior Barrows'. The barrow mounds both survive as upstanding stone and earth mounds measuring 23 metres in diameter and standing up to 2.5 metres high. The mounds were originally surrounded by gently sloping berms 5 metres wide which have been obscured by later ploughing. Beyond the bern edges lie quarry ditches from which material was obtained during the mounds' construction. These have become infilled over the years but are known from earlier excavation and aerial photographs to survive as buried features 3 metres wide. Excavations carried out in 1848 and 1935 in the vicinity of the barrows produced finds from several periods including Iron Age and Roman pottery fragments, the cremated bones of a woman and child, a male skeleton, and Early Bronze Age dagger and an important selection of early Neolithic and Bronze Age pottery. Scheduled.

[A - SU 5196 8326: B - SU 5201 8329] TUMULI [G.T.] (1) Two round barrows on Blewbury Down.

A. (Lat. 51 32' 43", Long. 1 15' 2" (3). Mound 12 ft. 6ins. high, inside ditch diameter 123 ft.
Opened by Dr. Wilson, Sept. 1848, the material of the mound contained fragments of 'British' pottery and one Roman fragment.
Cremated bones of a woman and child were found very near the centre, 8 ft. from the summit. Within a foot of them lay a flat bronze rivetted dagger identified as E.B.A. and now in the Ashmolean Museum. An unaccompanied male skeleton also lay near the centre, 4 ft. from the surface. Dr. Wilson regarded it as of Civil War date (2)(5).

B. (Lat. 51 32' 44", Long. 1 15' 0") (3) Mound 12 ft. 6 in. high surrounded by a well marked inner ditch 108 ft. in diameter. Excavated c. 1848 by Lousley and King who found - 'remains of animals, an arrowhead and some trifles'. Many small British pottery vessels, apparently set in a circle, are said to have been discovered. (2)(5). The primary interment may not have been found (3). Both barrows were re-excavated in 1935 by Peake, Coghlan and Marshall.

A. Much wood ash in the mound and a few fragments of early pottery. Under the mound and just south of the centre, was an irregular shallow pit, divided into two sections. In both sections were animal bones, a large amount of E.I.A. pottery and nearly a dozen fragments of Windmill Hill pottery, the latter apparently having been washed into the pit. A large piece of oolitic stone, possibly Roman, was found 18 in. deep, c. 20 ft. from the centre, and 4 R.B. sherds came from just inside the northern berm at a depth of 12".

B. South of the mound, a pit containing E.I.A. pottery fragments, was intersected by the ditch. In the body of the mound were, a beaker fragment, 2 E.I.A. and 2 R.B. sherds. The filling of the ditch yielded one piece of Peterborough ware, 8 fragments of E.I.A. and 4 R.B. sherds.

Peake concludes from this evidence that the mounds cannot be earlier than Roman and are probably not later. He suggests that there may be a Neolithic causewayed camp in the vicinity and concludes that the bronze dagger found near the cremation burial was not associated with it, but was probably scraped up with the material of the mound, as was the pottery. Peake then says that the purpose of the mounds in uncertain, while R.F. Jessup (4) says there is not sufficient evidence to regard them as Roman. Piggot classifies the early pottery as a remarkably complete series ranging from Ne. 'A' to M.B.A. and concludes - "we may assume that they all derive from an adjacent settlement site which appears to have enjoyed continuous occupation over a considerable period of time." (2-6)
The two barrows are now much reduced in height; 'A' measures 6 ft. and 'B' 8 ft. Each is surrounded by a crop mark representing the ditch. Published survey (25") revised. The E.B.A. dagger found by Wilson is in the Ashmolean Museum, Acc, N.C.445, and at present is being restored. (7) Two round barrows 1/4 mile (400m) north of Lower Chance Farm, at SU 520 833, have been scheduled as an Ancient Monument (Oxon No.191) (8) The barrows are visible on aerial photographs. The external ditches appear as cropmarks. (10)
Chance Posted by Chance
19th December 2012ce
Edited 8th April 2013ce

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