Whereas Normanton Down is a vast sprawling complex of barrows, Winterbourne Stoke is much smaller and more compact. Park in the lay-by on the A303 that is just east of the roundabout junction with the A360 and wander through the trees to the barrows. The first large bell barrow after the woods gives a good vantage point of the western half of the site which include a nice pair of disc barrows as well as bowl, bell, pond and saucer barrows. Right next to the roundabout is a well preserved long barrow aligned along a northeast – southwest axis, most of the rest of the barrows follow this northeast axis.
The Winterbourne Stoke Crossroads round barrow cemetery comprises a linear arrangement of 19 late Neolithic / Early Bronze Age circular earthwork monuments, commonly known as round barrows. Winterbourne Stoke 3 (Monument Number 870372) to 10 (870444) are aligned to the north-east of the Neolithic long barrow known as Winterbourne Stoke 1 (Monument Number 219696). They extend south-west / north-east for nearly 600m: this alignment continues after a gap of circa 100m (see Winterbourne Stoke 22: Monument Number 219720). A roughly parallel secondary alignment immediately to the west comprises Winterbourne Stoke 2a (Monument Number 866648) to 12 (Monument Number 870446). A cluster of barrows sits slightly apart, circa 250m north-west of the main alignment (Monument Number 215072). Most of the barrows were excavated by Sir Richard Colt Hoare in the early 19th century. The barrow cemetery was mapped from aerial photographs at a scale of 1:10,000 as part of the RCHME: Salisbury Plain Training Area NMP, which was revised by English Heritage's Stonehenge WHS Mapping project. The barrow cemetery was surveyed at a scale of 1:1000 in August 2009 and January 2010 as part of English Heritage's Stonehenge WHS Landscape Project. Please consult the individual round barrow records for further information.
Dr. Thurnam's account of his opening the Long Barrow in 1863
About a mile-and-a-half to the west of Stonehenge, on the boundary of the parishes of Winterbourne Stoke and Wilsford, is a cluster of circular barrows, which, as in many other instances, are grouped around an immensely long tumulus. The twenty six tumuli, which, in addition to the long barrow, form this group, are mostly of the more elegant, and probably less ancient, forms.
In five, the interment has not been found ; two, however, are those absurdly called ' pond barrows,' and probably not sepulchral. Of the twenty one, seven have been raised over the entire body, and fourteen over the burnt remains. All are probably of the ' bronze period; ' and in three, containing skeletons, and one, burnt bones, there were fine blades or pins of that metal, one of the last with an ivory handle. Drinking cups, or other earthen vases, were obtained from four of the barrows; and there was a bone pin with another of the deposits after cremation.
The tumulus is about 240 feet in length, and nine in height at the north east end, where it has a breadth of about 65 feet; at the other extremity it is not quite so high or broad. The summit is thrown up almost to an acute ridge, but at the two ends the surface is more rounded. On each side is a trench stretching the whole length of the barrow, but, as usual, not continued round either end.
A large excavation at the south-west extremity, disclosed no sepulchral traces; and this immense mound, with an interment only at one end, was no doubt intended as much for a monument as a tomb. At the north-eastern end., about two feet below the highest part of the tumulus were six skeletons, viz ; one of a man of about sixty years, one of a young woman under twenty, one of a child about seven, and three of infants of less than two years, the youngest, perhaps, featal. The skull of the man lay to the north-east, that of the woman to the south-west. Secondary interments of the Anglo-Saxon period have been found near the summit of long barrows ; but these were obviously British, as shown by the flexed position of the skeletons, by an empty vase of very coarse British pottery, and an oval flint knife. The male skull is well preserved, and of extremely brachycephalic type ; the skulls of the woman and children were obtained in a fragmentary condition, but the latter present the same well-marked type, with the occiput flattened. These interments can hardly have been other than secondary, and of a later date than that for which the tumulus was erected ; and it became a question whether, on the primary interments being reached, the skull would prove of the same, or of dolichocephalic type.
Continuing the excavation, the chalk rubble was dug through, to a depth of six feet, into a stratum of black unctuous earth, of which the lower third of the barrow through its entire length seems to have been formed. At a further depth of three feet, the chalk rock was reached, where were the remains of the original interment ; viz., the skeleton of a man laid on the right side, with the knees drawn up in a closely contracted posture, and the head to the south-west. Close to the right arm, lay a natural bludgeon-shaped flint, about 8 inches long, well adapted for being grasped in the hand; from one end of which numerous flakes had been knocked off. The skull was dolichocephalic ; though less decidedly so than many of the crania from the chambered barrows.
Near the back of the head was a round 'cist' or hole, scooped out of the chalk rock, about 18 inches wide and the same in depth. Two feet further to the north, were two similar cists of oval form, but somewhat larger, and scarcely so deep. These holes, like others beneath the long barrows of South Wilts, had perhaps been used for deposits of meat and drink, as a viaticum for the dead ; or possibly for the blood of human victims, whose mangled remains appear often to have been buried with the body of their chief in this class of tumuli. A few scattered bones of sheep and other animals were found near the summit, and about a yard from the feet of the primary interment, was the symphysis of the ischium of an old horse. The skeleton was that of man of less than middle stature ; viz., about 5 feet 6 inches.
Dr. Thurnam's paper on " Principal Forms of Ancient British and Gaulish Skulls," printed in vol. i. of Memoirs of the Anthropological Society of London, 1865.
After visiting the new visitor centre at Stonehenge I kept an eye out for this longbarrow on our way south. I have known about this site for a long time but had never actually seen it. I am pleased to say that it is very easy to spot when driving past. There is no chance of parking near the longbarrow. I am not sure where the closest parking would be – the visitor centre main car park perhaps?
A large Bronze Age bell barrow survives as earthworks within the main alignment of the Winterbourne Stoke Crossroads round barrow cemetery (Monument Number 219525). It has an overall diameter of 51m and comprises a mound, 3.1m high and of at least two phases, which sits on a roughly circular platform defined by a ring ditch that appears slightly cut by that around Winterbourne Stoke 4 to the south-west (Monument Number 870384). The barrow was excavated in the early 19th century by Sir Richard Colt Hoare, who gave it the title "king barrow" due to the rich finds (Barrow 16: 1812). His men found a primary inhumation within an elm tree-trunk coffin, accompanied by 2 bronze daggers, a bronze awl with a bone handle, and sherds of a 5-handled Breton style pottery vessel. The barrow was listed as Winterbourne Stoke 5 by Goddard (1913) and by Grinsell (1957). The round barrow was mapped from aerial photographs at a scale of 1:10,000 as part of the RCHME: Salisbury Plain Training Area NMP project and this mapping revised at a scale of 1:2500 for the English Heritage Stonehenge WHS Mapping Project. The round barrow was surveyed at a scale of 1:1000 in August 2009 as part of English Heritage's Stonehenge WHS Landscape Project.
A Neolithic long barrow survives as earthworks at the south-western end of the Winterbourne Stoke Crossroads round barrow cemetery (Monument Number 219525). It comprises a long mound, up to 3m high, 83.7m long and 26.9m wide, which extends south-west / north-east and is flanked to either side by ditches. The mound has the appearance of two conjoined round barrows, but this is the result of extensive damage by excavation, animal burrowing and quarrying for chalk in the early 20th century. The long barrow was excavated by Thurnam in 1863, who found a primary inhumation and six secondary burials. The barrow was listed as Winterbourne Stoke Down 1 by Hoare (1812), and as Winterbourne Stoke 1 by Goddard (1913), Cunnington (1914), and Grinsell (1957). The long barrow was mapped from aerial photographs at a scale of 1:10,000 as part of the RCHME: Salisbury Plain Training Area NMP and the English Heritage Stonehenge WHS Mapping project. The long barrow was surveyed at a scale of 1:1000 in August 2009 as part of English Heritage's Stonehenge WHS Landscape Project.