I was inspired to visit Brightwell Barrow after reading a reference to it on the Poem Tree on nearby Castle Hill
"In misty distance see the barrow heave
There lies forgotten lonely Cwichelm's grave."
It looks like one of the "hedgehogs" surrounding avebury although there are few trees. There are several rocks which look as if someone has brought them up there attempting to build a cairn?
The place is certainly very lonely and exposed and is worth a visit. Perhaps it is best viewed from the Clumps, while reading Joseph Tubbs' poem on the tree. Project Timescape is where you can sget a nice cup of tea and see the artefacts on display that Time Team found in the area.
EDIT: According to the Northmoor Trust website, the poem does not refer to Brightwell barrow but another site which is farther away. I still think on a misty day Brightwell Barrow is very picturesque.
When looking across to Brightwell Barrow from Wittenham Clumps - or from road and railway whilst travelling south through Oxfordshire - something always tugs at my heart when I set eyes on this lonely outpost.
Brightwell Barrow lies just under a kilometre from Wittenham Clumps, atop a ridge in the middle of a vast field. The only marker of its position is a large tree growing on top of it; this tree adds to the sense of romantic isolation, and enables it to be seen from miles around.
Like Port Meadow Round Hill, I keep meaning to actually walk up to it someday (especially as there's a useful footpath), but in the meantime, I can't help but wonder about the society that built it, and presumably lived at Castle Hill on Wittenham Clumps. It's very easy to stand up there on a blustery day, and imagine a ritual procession walking the exposed ridge to honour their dead ancestor, lying so far from them, and yet so near, given the topography of the area . . . the essence of the ancients is very much in evidence at this Oxfordshire landmark.
A Bronze Age bowl barrow, later utilised as a tree clump mound, situated 350 metres north of Highlands Farm.
Scheduled Monument 238160 Oxfordshire Parish of Brightwell-cun-Sotwell SU 59 SE 54 Location SU 5748 9184 The barrow mound survives, despite part reduction by cultivation, as an upstanding earthwork measuring 30 metres in diameter and standing up to 0.3 metres high. The mound is surrounded by a quarry ditch from which material was obtained during its construction. This has become infilled over the years and now lies beneath the edge of the spread mound. This ditch will survive as a buried feature to its original width of 3 metres. The barrow is believed to have been reused as a tree clump mound between 1800-1840 and it still has a ring of mature beech trees around it. During ploughing the surrounding field has produced Iron Age and early Roman pottery sherds although the nature of the activity and its relationship to the barrow is not fully understood. There are cropmarks of two other single ditched round barrows to the west of Brightwell Barrow. One is calculated at 29m dia. and can be seen on air photos at SU 5744 9179 and the other, of 26m Dia. at SU 5754 9187
'A' [SU 5761 9190] Brightwell Barrow [T.U.] (1) Brightwell Barrow a circular mound, 20 paces in diameter and 1 1/2 feet high, tree-covered, at Sinodun Hills, Brightwell. It has been surrounded by two tree rings, one perhaps c. 1800, the other in 1843. Opened by Dr. H. Watts in 1923, E.I.A. pottery (in British Museum) and animal bones found. No human remains detected (2). 'B'[SU 5744 9179] Barrow (3a). (2-3) 'A' is a circular tree covered mound 0.3m. high. Although rather small and ploughed down, it is almost certainly a barrow and is ideally situated on the top of a hill. No trace of the tree rings survive, or of barrow 'B' which is under young crops. Published survey (1/2500) revised. (4) Excavations across the site of the circular crop mark in a. above, by Dr.s Watts and Girling in 1938 showed no evidence of disturbance below ground level and nothing was visible above ground. Subsequent enquiries ascertained that a corn rick had been standing on this spot prior to the air photograph being taken by Major Allen. (5) (SU 57449179). The barrow is visible on air photographs. (6)
Cropmark remains of two single ditched round barrows at SU 5744 9179 and SU 5754 9187 mapped at 1:10,000 scale as part of the RCHME: Thames Valley NMP. The former barrow has a diameter of 29m and corresponds with barrow (B) referred to in sources 2 & 3 above. The second barrow lies 100m to the east and has a diameter of 26m. Both lie to the west of the site of the tree covered Brightwell Barrow. (Morph No. TG.377.10.1-2). (7)