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Boles Barrow

Long Barrow

<b>Boles Barrow</b>Posted by akhen3sirImage © akhen3sir
Also known as:
  • Bowl's Barrow

Nearest Town:Warminster (7km WSW)
OS Ref (GB):   ST941467 / Sheet: 184
Latitude:51° 13' 8.06" N
Longitude:   2° 5' 4.16" W

Added by Rhiannon

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<b>Boles Barrow</b>Posted by akhen3sir


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On the summit of a hill to the north-east of Elder-Valley is a large tumulus, called BOWLS-BARROW, which measure 150 feet in length, ninety-four in breadth, and ten and a half in height. It was twice opened by Mr. Cunnington, who found that its interior parts were composed entirely of white marl stone, to the depth of four feet and a half, below which was a ridge of large stones and flints, extending wider towards the base of the barrow. This was a floor of flints regularly laid, on which were deposited the remains of fourteen human bodies, thrown together promiscuously within the space of ten feet by six. Near the skeletons was a large cist, and at the east and west ends of the barrow were discovered several heads of oxen, but no charred wood or pottery.
Who needs charred wood or pottery when you've found oxen heads, that's what I'd like to know. From

From From 'The Beauties of England and Wales' volume 15, by John Britton and others (1814).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
23rd April 2011ce
Edited 24th April 2011ce

Well. This is the 'infamous' Boles Barrow. Why such a reputation? Because a bluestone, of the same ilk as those at Stonehenge, was allegedly found here. The thing is, the Boles Barrow is supposed to be much older than the periods when the blue stones were being chipped at and shuffled about at Stonehenge. One interpretation of this discrepancy is that the blue stones were on Salisbury plain all along, having been brought by glaciers.
Aubrey Burl was all for this idea in this 1999 article:
But lots of people think the glacier idea is sheer poppycock. Where are all the other glacial erratics on the plain? And right, ice sheets only dropped a dozen or so bluestones? Still, it's pretty bonkers that prehistoric people might have transported stones all the way from West Wales.

The stone in question was found by William Cunnington when he excavated the barrow in 1801. He wrote about a "Blue hard stone ye same as the upright Stones in ye inner circle at Stonehenge". The stone apparently eventually turned up in the Salisbury museum. But is it really the stone from the Boles barrow? And if so is it actually the same type of stone as the Stonehenge bluestones? If it is, could it have been brought earlier? With all the others, maybe? And the rest were later moved to Stonehenge? After all a small lump has recently been found at Woodhenge.
Oh it's all very confusing.

Just to be helpful, the information on the EH scheduled monument record via Magic doesn't mention the stone at all.

The barrow's also been called Heytesbury I, and is now on the SMR and OS map as 'Bowl's Barrow'. I assume it's the same place though! If you look at it on Google Earth you'll see the poor thing looking like a roundabout surrounded by tyre/tank? tracks. In fact, I spotted this quote:

"... the scale and nature of military interference is startling. [C.C.] most vividly remembers his first visit to Bowl's Barrow, one of the most important spot sites in the SPTA, where he found recent tracked-vehicle marks scouring deeply through its ditch and the "no-driving" sign squashed into the mud of the new track."

(from Managing for Effective Archaeological Conservation: The Example of Salisbury Plain Military Training Area. By Roy Canham and Christopher Chippindale, in Journal of Field Archaeology, Vol. 15, No. 1 (Spring, 1988), pp. 53-65.)
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
10th September 2006ce
Edited 27th March 2009ce


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William Cunnington's notes about the opening of the Boles Barrow in 1801, in volume 111 of the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History magazine (June 1924).

There are also photographs of the mysterious bluestone.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
17th December 2013ce