A golden coffin is buried somewhere on the Downs at Bowerchalke. It was stolen from one of the Britons' Barrows. The theft was discovered, and the coffin had to be hidden. At certain seasons seven men may be seen dragging the coffin over the Downs.
From Olivier/Edwards' "Moonrakings" (c1920) - a story they collected from a local WI member.
There are seven round barrows on the hill, and other earthworks, no doubt some of which are visible from the village below.
(A: SU 0233 2256, B: SU 0235 2257, C: SU 0234 2248, D: SU 0235 2249, E: SU 0236 2249 and F: SU 0234 2257) Tumuli (NR).
Six bowl barrows (see plan (3)) on Marleycombe Hill, excavated by Dr R C C Clay in 1926 (4), when urns of the Deveril-Rimbury type were found. The finds went to Devizes Museum.
Bower Chalke 6 (A: SU 0233 2256) 11 paces in diameter and 1 ft in height. A central cairn previously disturbed, leaving no trace of a primary. To the east was an inverted Bronze Age barrel urn (secondary?) with no trace of burnt bones or ashes. A Beaker sherd was in the material.
Bower Chalke 7 (F: SU 0234 2257), 10 paces in diameter and 1 ft in height. The remains of a primary (crouched?) skeleton;
an empty cist to the south. Secondary adult cremation near the northeast corner of the grave, with Bronze Age sherds.
Bower Chalke 8 (B: SU 0235 2257) 15 paces in diameter and 3 ft in height. A primary interment of two crouched skeletons, one
with beaker. In material of mound a fragment of a flat bottomed vessel the paste and texture of which were similar to that of bowls from Windmill Hill (3); Romano British sherds superficially.
Bower Chalke 9 (C: SU 0234 2248) 9 paces in diameter and 1 1/2 ft in height. The primary cremation of an adult, mixed with ashes, disturbed, and urn possibly removed by previous excavators.
Bower Chalke 10 (D: SU 0235 2249) 8 paces in diameter and 2 ft in height. Previously disturbed, and central cist empty. To the southeast were two Bronze Age barrel urns, one upright and the other inverted, each containing a cremation and both in the same cist (secondary).
Bower Chalke 11 (E: SU 0236 2249) 9 paces in diameter and 2 ft in height. A cremation beneath an inverted Bronze Age barrel urn 5 ft southeast of the centre but probably the primary interment. Near this on the west a small cist with cremation, presumed secondary.
Colt Hoare (5) shows seven barrows here on his map, but one may be the mound shown on OS 6" at SU 0201 2228.
Three of these barrows were excavated by John Burroughs in 1883. In one he found an unburnt skeleton, parts of which he removed, above which was a Bronze Age barrel urn. It appears to have been empty. Grinsell (2) queries whether it came from Bower Chalke 7. It went to Salisbury Museum. He also found (in barrows 9 and 10?) a large and small urn now lost (Dr Blackmore's 'Locked Notebook' in Salisbury Museum). Clay (3) suggests, on the assumption that the top soil used in the construction of barrows 6-8 was gathered from their immediate neighbourhood, that the presence of beaker fragments, pot-boilers, pieces of sandstone and black soil, indicates that there was a Beaker settlement close by. The remains of a Beaker floor were found beneath the top soil over which burrows 9-11 were constructed.
Clay could not substantiate his opinion by trial trenching and the signs of habitation appear to spread over most of the northern crest of (Marlycombe) Hill. (2-6)
It is clear from Grinsell's Pte 6" that he has numbered Clay's barrows 1-3 in reverse order ie the NGR's as given in VCH 1 are not applicable to the dimensions and the other details taken from Clay's account. On this card the details have been applied to the barrows in their correct plan position taken from Clay's account, and Grinsell's numbers have been applied to the same NGRs as given in his list. (7)