I had a bit of trouble finding what is left of the long barrow as it didn't show on the O/S map I was using! For those in a similar situation, this is how you find it:
Continue north along the road which runs past the nature reserve / field containing the Lambourn Seven Barrows. In a short while, at the point where the road bends to the right, there is a parking area on the left. Park here. To the west you will see a public right of way leading up to a small wooded area. This is where you will find the remains of the barrow. There is next to nothing to see although there is a large flat stone next to a tree trunk right next to the path – just before you reach the gate. No doubt this must once have been part of the barrow?
I liked it here although there wasn't much to really see. You wouldn't really know there was anything here at all if you hadn't been forewarned. The barrow is where there's a rough patch of ground (awash with lovely pyramidal orchids at the moment) and across some confusing lumps in the edge of the wood. So it's hard to understand what's what. I was totally taken though with the huge flattish stone lurking under one of the trees, I was very pleased to spot that, I had to give it a pat. Perhaps others would be easier to find at another time of year when there's fewer leaves about. Also it didn't help that the sun was extremely hot and I was starting to feel a bit odd. Fortunately it's only a short flat jaunt back to the road (there's masses of space where you can park your car).
This long barrow is adjacent to the LB7 bronze age group. The hill adjacent is called 'Crog Hill' (Meaning 'hill of the dead'). What was once a mighty stone age tomb, is now no more than a bump in the ground.
I often come to this site, but this visit saddens me. It appears the local landowner has driven a fence right across the middle of it and removed the smaller sarsen stones from the site and piled them up. Two large pieces of sarsen still remain in situ (I guess they weren't strong enough to move them too).
Isn't this damaging a listed ancient monument site?
Neolithic Long barrow discovered by L.V. Grinsell on Westcot Down. Excavations were carried out on the barrow by J.J. Wymer in 1964. A crouched burial and a later internment were found in a chamber, which consisted of a crude cist-like arrangement of sarsans, at the east end of the barrow. The side ditches produced Windmill Hill sherds below primary silt. Above the primary silt, but below the rapid silting of the south ditch, a broken human skull cap, burnt stones, sherds and animal bones were found. Among the flint implements found during the excavations were leaf shaped, petit tranchet and barbed and tanged arrowheads as well as flakes, scrapers, borers and a core. The long barrow is partially visible as cropmarks of a long mound surrounded by a ditch, on aerial photographs. The barrow appeared not to have been ploughed completely flat.
[SU 3232 8338] Long Barrow [G.T.] (1)
A long barrow was discovered at the south end of the wood on Westcot Down, by L.V. Grinsell in September 1935 (2).
It lies on the boundaries of Kingston Lisle, Lambourn and Sparsholt parishes (3)
The mound, oriented E.N.E by W.S.W., was 220 feet long, 70 feet wide and 4 1/2 feet in height at the higher eastern end, the
greater part of the latter being traversed by a cart track, while the N.E tip lies in the wood. A group of sarsens protrude
at the eastern end, some evidently placed vertically in the ground, and these may indicate a passage and chambers, possibly
of the Wayland's Smithy type [SU 28 NE 4] Ditches, 5 to 6 yards wide, run along both sides of the barrow and air photos suggest a ditch at the western end separated from the side ditches by slight intervals or causeways (2).
"The type of chambering is unknown, though it may well turn out to be a transepted gallery grave" (4).
The Lambourn long barrow can be dated c.2500-2000 BC(5) Scheduled (6) (2-6)
The western part of the long barrow is being ploughed out, but its limits are clearly defined by the difference in colour
between the dark silted ditches and the light chalk mount. The tops of the sarsens mentioned by Grinsell can be seen
protruding from the top of the mound where it is crossed by a track. Surveyed at 1:2500.
Newbury Museum have a Neolithic flint borer and scrapers from "Lambourn Long Barrow" (Acc No. 1960/8) donated by Reading
A crouched burial of late Neolithic date and a later interment in the chamber end of the barrow, were found during excvations
by J.Wymer of Reading Museum. (8)
The barrow was excavated in 1964 by J J Wymer (Reading Museum) for MPBW. The mound was virtually ploughed away but has been
constructed, apparently, as a central core (or spine) of small sarsens edged with turves and chalk heaped over. Nothing was
found in the mound, other than at the east end where there was a crude, cist-like arrangement of small sarsens containing an
unaccompanied crouched burial. The side ditches produced Windmill Hill sherds below primary silt, also a broken antler pick, charcoal, and flint artefacts. At the east end of the south ditch was a broken human skull cap, burnt stones, sherds and animal bones above primary silting, but below loose chalky rubble of rapid silting. There was no ditch around the west end. All finds are in Newbury Museum: among the flints are leaf-shaped, petit-tranchet and barbed and tanged arrowheads, flakes, scrapers, borers and a core. (9)
A c14 date for the barrow of Bc 3415 +- 180, was obtained from wood charcoal submitted to the Geochron Laboratory, Cambridge,
Mass, USA. The sample came from a small patch of burnt wood, on natural chalk under the primary chalk infilling of the south quarry ditch `near its tail end' (10)
Additional bibliogaphy (11-15)
SU 323834 Long barrow south of Westcot Down. Scheduled No 56. (16)
Other reference. (17)
The Neolithic long barrow, described by the previous authorities, is partially visible on aerial phootgraphs as a cropmark of a long mound surrounded by ditches. 45m of the west end of the barrow was visible but the east end was masked by trees. (18)
( 1) General reference O.S. 6" 1960
( 2) General reference Berks A.J. 40, 1936 59.62 (L.V.Grinsell)
( 3) General reference Trans. Newbury & Dist.F.C.7,1934-7,191+282 (H Peake)
( 4) General reference Arch of Wessex 1958, 32, (L.V.Grinsell)
( 5) General reference Guide to Prehist. Eng., 1960, 39 (N Thomas)
( 6) General reference A.M.s Eng & Wales, 1961, 19, (M.O.W.)
( 7) Field Investigators Comments F1 GHP 12-DEC-63
( 8) General reference Bull. Brit.Arch.Assn.p.2 Nov 1964
( 9) General reference Berks AJ 62 1965-6 1-16 plans etc (J J Wymer)
(10) General reference Antiquity 44 1970 144 (Notes)
(11) General reference Berks Field Res Grp 3 1965 5-7 (JJ Wymer)
(12) General reference Aer Arch 10 1984 65 fig 65 (G W Allen)
(13) General reference Earthen Long Barrow in Britain 1970 10.168,178 (P Ashbee)
(14) General reference BAR 107 pt 1 1982 182 Beaker Domestic Sites
(15) General reference BAR 35 Earlier Ne of S Eng & its Continental Background 1972 248 (AWR Whittle)
(16) General reference DOE (IAM) SAMS 1988 3 Berks
(17) General reference Oxoniensia 43, 1978, 245 (Brown L)
(18) Oblique aerial photograph reference number NMR SU3283/1-4 (ACA 7090/52-55)
An article in the Oxford Journal of Archaeology in 2000* gives some dates for the barrow, measured with the AMS technique. Tests were made on an antler pick that was found on the barrow's ditch floor, and this gave a similar result to bits of skull and femur that were also found - giving an average of 3760 - 3645 cal BC. So not as old as the radiocarbon dates that wysefool rightly queries below. But still pretty damn old, in the early Neolithic - building mounds like this one was very much the new fangled Neolithic thing to do. The article suggests the date supports the idea that the change from mesolithic to neolithic ways of life was rapid, though I don't know how generally believed that is?
More human remains were found amongst the sarsen stones at the head of the barrow - these gave slightly later dates of 3330 - 2885 cal BC. So the barrow still had importance in the landscape later on. And then of course it's at one end of all the Bronze age barrows of Lambourn 'seven' barrows.
*'New AMS dates from the Lambourn long barrow and the question of the earliest neolithic in Southern England: repacking the neolithic package?' Rick J Schulting (v19, issue 1).
The most important funerary monument remaining is the Lambourn Long Barrow, on the northern boundary of Lambourn parish, and standinga t the head of a shallow valley containing a group of later monuments known as Seven Barrows. The valley is now dry but may once have contained a spring worshipped in ancient times, and which, perhaps, was the reaosn for siting the barrows here. The Long Barrow has been badly damaged by centuries of ploughing and by a track running across one end used by farm vehicles and race horses. The barrow was excavated at least twice, but inexpertly, in the 19th century, and some human remains were removed. Rescue operations in 1964 found no great quantity of artefacts, but some of the potsherds resembled pottery found at the famous Neolithic camp on Windmill Hill, 20 miles away. A mass of sarsen stones disturbed by previous excavators may have formed a central core to the barrow.
'Discovered about 1850, the NE end of the site is in the wood and crossed by the cart tack. It is c.220ft long, 70ft wide at its E end and here 4+1/2ft high. Parallel side-ditches originally 7ft deep, flank the mound, whose ends are open. Excavation has shown that their contents provided a turf cover with chalk crust to a core of sarsens which constitute the mound. Near the E end a contracted female burial has been found, associated with extra human bones and a necklace or bracelet of polished common dog whelk. Date (C14) circa 3,400 BC.'
Nicholas Thomas, Guide to Prehistoric England, 1976
Barry Cunliffe - Wessex to 1000 AD (published 1993)
'Apart from the dog, which existed in domesticated form in the Mesolithic period, the earliest domesticated animals known from Wessex are cattle and sheep or goat, both of which have been identified at the long barrows of Lambourn (c.4200BC) and Fussel's Lodge (c.4000BC). Domesticated pigs are first recorded in the pre-enclosure level at Windmill Hill in a context dated to c.3800BC.'
Wysefool says: Interesting that the date for the animal find (presumably bone) is given as circa 4200BC, an earlier date than I'd previously thought for the 'Oldest Long Barrow in England' an older than the 'Magic' date of 3415BC. The date of 4200BC was from radiocarbon dating and therefore could be plus/minus a fair few years, but not 800 odd!
'A chambered long barrow was discovered in 1935 br Mr L V Grinsell ... who was wandering among the lambourn seven barrows one sunny september day. It may sound amazing that a barrow 220ft long and 50ft wide should have passed unnoticed until 1935. But the thing was not so obvious as it sounds, for one end of it was ploughed up, and a cart-track and a grassy bank ran across the other end. It was, in fact, pretty well hidden, and it took a "barrow detective" like Mr Grinsell to spot it. The sarsen stones which originally formed the passage and chambers lay beneath the cart-track and had become exposed.'
The longbarrow Wysefool mentions near Wescot Wood contained a burial interred with some perforated seashells (perhaps a necklace then?). Far from home for some seashells. I wonder where they came from and what they meant to their owner? Had they ever been to the sea themselves?
(info from James Dyer's 'Discovering Regional Archaeology: The Cotswolds and the Upper Thames' 1970)
According to magic, the site has been dated to 3415 BC, "currently the earliest date for a long barrow in Britain".