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Popham Beacons

Barrow / Cairn Cemetery

<b>Popham Beacons</b>Posted by JaneImage © Jane
Nearest Town:Basingstoke (14km NE)
OS Ref (GB):   SU525439 / Sheet: 185
Latitude:51° 11' 28.84" N
Longitude:   1° 14' 55.11" W

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<b>Popham Beacons</b>Posted by Jane <b>Popham Beacons</b>Posted by Jane <b>Popham Beacons</b>Posted by Jane <b>Popham Beacons</b>Posted by jimit <b>Popham Beacons</b>Posted by jimit <b>Popham Beacons</b>Posted by jimit <b>Popham Beacons</b>Posted by jimit


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Three very distinct and one a bit flattened tumuli of giant proportions run in a line north/south just to the west of Popham airfield. I went to Sutton Hoo recently and was mightily underwhelmed by the ploughed out barrows there - to think they may have once stood tall as tall as these at Popham! Definitely worth a visit. Jane Posted by Jane
14th September 2003ce

Some confusion here, compare and contrast. The first extract from Hampshire Treasures, the second from Pevsner/Lloyd "The Buildings of England", "Hants and the IOW"

"Popham Beacons. Situated in arable field, on broad flat top of a prominent hill. The group consists of two bowl barrows, a saucer barrow, a disc barrow and two probable bell barrows."

"This is a linear cemetery of five barrows. The S site is a fine bell barrow 7ft high and 130ft in diameter, N of it are first a bowl barrow 118ft in diameter and 6ft high and a saucer barrow partly cut through by the building of the former mound and by a second bell barrow. 40ft N is a further bowl barrow, 90ft in diameter and 6ft high."

From a site visit the first impression is of only 3 barrows as the N barrow is hidden from view aproaching from the field gate. I think that the heights quoted are very much an under-estimation especially for the 1st and 3rd barrows, (Counting from the left ie S) and I would add possibly just about half as much again. Some trees on top which is a shame as they will surely be damaging the barrows. Middle (apparent) barrow lower.The N barrow, a smooth dome, clear of vegetation and shifted E of the line of the first three. Of the other two barrows mentioned, by squinting along the ground I think that I could just make out a vague, circular very shallow ditch between barrows 3 and 4.

A site visit by someone more conversant with barrow types than I am might clear up the confusion.
When I visited it was the begining of what proved to be the hottest day ever recorded in the UK, I will probably return when my brain will be less fried!

The "Three Barrows" mentioned in the original post are described as follows again by Pevsner/Lloyd.

"...The group consists of two disc barrows, a bell barrow and a twin barrow - two mounds surrounded by a common ditch. the disc barrows have been almost obliterated by ploughing and are difficult to detect. The bell barrow, 70ft in diameter and 9ft heigh, was excavated in 1920 and found to cover a central pit containing a cremated male burial. The twin barrow, which was excavated at the same time, proved to have been robbed"

Disabled: Parking at field gate leading straight to site on level grass.
jimit Posted by jimit
11th August 2003ce
Edited 8th December 2003ce


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The EH Scheduled monument record (31151) describes Popham Beacons thus:

The monument includes a round barrow cemetery prominently situated just north of the A303 and just west of the Stockbridge road, on a broad south east facing chalk spur. It consists of a linear arrangement of four very substantial round barrows and a saucer barrow oriented along the spur over a distance of about 185m. A sixth barrow, possibly a disc barrow, situated 20m to the south east, has been levelled by ploughing and is not included in the scheduling. Two further round barrows situated approximately 150m and 260m to the west, just on the other side of the Stockbridge road, have also been removed by ploughing and are also not included in the scheduling.

The most northerly barrow is a slightly elliptical bowl barrow, standing about 1.6m high with a maximum diameter of 25m, surrounded by a partially infilled ditch up to 5m wide and 0.2m deep. The second barrow lies approximately 12m to the south. It is a bell barrow comprising a central mound surrounded by a 3m wide berm, mutilated by rabbit burrowing and ploughing, and a partially infilled ditch up to 6m wide and 0.25m deep. The mound and berm are roughly circular and stand up to 2.4m high with a maximum diameter of about 26m. These features partly overlie a probable saucer barrow comprising a low central mound, about 0.2m high and 26m across, surrounded by a ditch, 5m wide and 0.1m deep, and an outer bank, 10m-12m wide and about 0.15m high. The fourth barrow also partly overlies the saucer barrow. It is a probable bell barrow comprising a roughly circular central mound, approximately 2.4m high and up to 24m across, with traces of a mutilated berm on the east and north east sides. It is surrounded by a ditch, approximately 6m wide and 0.15m deep. The fifth barrow lies about 5m to the south. This is a possible bell barrow comprising a roughly circular central mound, up to 2.4m high and 30m across, with traces of a mutilated berm. It is surrounded by a partially infilled ditch, 0.15m-0.25m deep, that is 5m-7m wide to the north and south but widens to 10m-12m wide to the east and west.

The three most substantial barrows are slightly hollowed in the centre indicating possible past excavation. The two to the north have exposed flint rubble cores while that to the south has an exposed core of chalk rubble. All have been clipped by ploughing and are disturbed by burrowing.

The monument is located on the alignment of a likely Roman road which survives 200m to the south east as a lane running along the edge of Black Wood and to the north west as discontinuous sections of farm track and woodland boundary.

Popham Beacons has been suggested, in a 1943 publication, to be the location of a Roman lookout station associated with this road, and have been identified on maps dating from 1595 as the approximate location of a later Armada beacon from which the monument gains its name. No archaeological evidence of any of these features survives however in the field within which the barrows are located.
ocifant Posted by ocifant
22nd August 2003ce