There are three different and separate barrow groups south of Normanton Down, all of which are within the Wilsford cum Lake parish. Apart from the Lake group, there is the Lake Down barrow group (SU 117 393) which is actually on Lake Down, east of Druids Lodge and above Spring Bottom. The other group is known as the Wilsford Barrow group (SU 118 398) and this sits on the spur between Wilsford Down and Lake Down, on the western slope of Spring Bottom.
The Lake group are located just off the track that runs past Normanton Down and onto the A360 at Druids Lodge. These barrows are on private land but in order to get permission to view them you need to walk past them to Westfield farm.
This group contains at least fifteen bowl-barrows, four bell-barrows, two disc barrows and a long barrow. The farm track separates the main barrows of the group, the northern set containing the long barrow and disc barrows sit in a wood, while on the southern side of the track are two bell and three bowl barrows, one of which has been greatly reduced. To the north-west lay a satellite group of four bowl barrows which were completely excavated by Professor William Grimes in 1959 due to the damage they were under from being ploughed down.
Although Colt Hoare and William Cunnington carried out a lot of the excavations in the area, many of the barrows in this group including both the disc barrows, were opened by a former proprietor, Rev. Edward Duke, unfortunately with little, if any record. The Neolithic long barrow however, aligned north-west to south-east, 42 metres long, 23 metres wide and 2.5 metres high, appears never to have been opened or excavated in any way. The bell and bowl barrows which stand in the triangular open area between the two arms of the wood are the best preserved although the one furthest west is greatly reduced. These were the subject of Duke's excavations in 1807, but there is doubt as to what he found in which barrow.
The barrows within the wood were difficult to photograph when I visited at the height of summer due to the extensive vegetation. There was a stench of death and I think a badger set had been the scene of slaughter. Some of the barrows had certainly been damaged by burrowing, if not by the tree roots that had engulfed them. I couldn't get too far into the overgrowth to see the disc barrows or the so-called, Prophet Barrow which was said to be the place a French prophet preached from in 1710.
An interesting barrow group if you have the time to walk down from Stonehenge and get permission to look around them but I would recommend you did this in the winter months when the trees are bare and you can get a clearer view of the barrows.
A barrow cemetery comprising of 22 barrows (Wilsford 37-40, 42-50a) including the Prophet Barrow (SU 14 SW 465) and two confluent bowl barrows (SU 14 SW 469). These include 15 bowl barrows, two bell and two disc barrows. Excavations carried out during the nineteenth century and in June and July of 1959 have located burials, mainly cremations, in most of the barrows. Some were accompanied by grave goods which included daggers, beads and awls. There is however confusion over which barrows contained some of the finds which is a result of confusion over the correlation of Colt Hoare and Rev. E. Dukes barrow numbers to Grinsells barrow numbers due to differences in recent plans to those of Colt Hoare's, therefore the finds may not be related to their appropriate barrows. The barrows which are mainly affected are Wilsford 47 (SU 14 SW 470), Wilsford 49 (SU 14 SW 472), Wilsford 50 (SU 14 SW 473) and Wilsford 50a (SU 14 SW 474). (2-5)
Another group of barrows on Lake Down used to be called the Prophets' Barrows, not from supposed prophets buried in them, but on account of a company of Hugenots, exiles from their native land, who in 1710 set up a standard on the largest of the group - a huge flat-topped mound - and preached from it to the country people, who named them the French Prophets.
It is interesting to think of the grave voice of the coming Methodism lifted up here in this large down country, where there is little to distract the mind from the great issues of life; with Stonehenge on the one hand and the spire on the other. The preachers are said to have roused the listening crowds to enthusiasm, but what abiding impression they made is not told.
According to Aubrey, on the downs, where the shepherds labour hard, the people have not "leisure to contemplate of religion, but goe to bed to their rest, to rise betime the next morning to their labour." Whereas in North Wiltshire "(a dirty, clayey country) where the people feed chiefly on milk meates, which cooles their braines too much," they "are more apt to be fanatiques."
Aubrey should have known, he was born in North Wiltshire. From 'Salisbury Plain' by Ella Noyes (1913).
Bronze Age bowl barrow, listed by Grinsell as Wilsford 43, and part of the Lake Group of barrows recorded as SU 14 SW 51. The barrow allegedly acquired its name in the early 18th century after French "prophets" set up their standard on it and preached to local people (circa 1710). Excavated in the early 19th century by Colt Hoare, who found a primary cremation in what he described as a wooden box in a large cist. Accompanying the cremation were a bronze dagger and a perforated whetstone-pendant. The barrow is extant as a mutilated mound 1.5 metres high.
A Neolithic long barrow, listed by Grinsell as Wilsford (South) 41, and forming part of the Lake group of barrows (SU 14 SW 51). The barrow does not appear to have been excavated, and is extant as an earthwork 140 feet long and 75 feet wide. The mound has a maximum height of 3.5 metres, and has well-defined side ditches.
A Bronze Age bowl barrow, listed by Grinsell as Wilsford 43, and part of the Lake Group of barrows recorded as SU 14 SW 51.
The barrow allegedly acquired its name in the early 18th century after French "prophets" set up their standard on it and preached to local people (circa 1710).
Excavated in the early 19th century by Colt Hoare, who found a primary cremation in what he described as a wooden box in a large cist. Accompanying the cremation were a bronze dagger and a perforated whetstone-pendant.
The barrow is extant as a mutilated mound 1.5 metres high.