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Hazleton Long Barrows

Long Barrow

<b>Hazleton Long Barrows</b>Posted by tjjImage © tjj
Also known as:
  • Monument No. 327440

Nearest Town:Cheltenham (13km W)
OS Ref (GB):   SP072188 / Sheet: 163
Latitude:51° 52' 2.04" N
Longitude:   1° 53' 43.51" W

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World’s oldest family tree revealed in 5,700-year-old Cotswolds tomb

DNA analysis of bodies in Hazleton North long cairn finds five generations of an extended family

An analysis of DNA from a 5,700-year-old tomb has revealed the world’s oldest family tree, shedding “extraordinary” light on the importance of family and descent among people who were some of Britain’s first farmers... continues...
ryaner Posted by ryaner
23rd December 2021ce
Edited 25th December 2021ce

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Photographs:<b>Hazleton Long Barrows</b>Posted by thesweetcheat <b>Hazleton Long Barrows</b>Posted by thesweetcheat <b>Hazleton Long Barrows</b>Posted by thesweetcheat <b>Hazleton Long Barrows</b>Posted by thesweetcheat <b>Hazleton Long Barrows</b>Posted by baza Maps / Plans / Diagrams:<b>Hazleton Long Barrows</b>Posted by tjj Artistic / Interpretive:<b>Hazleton Long Barrows</b>Posted by tjj


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After a very enjoyable visit to Salperton Park round barrow (26.4.2021), I head south along a surprisingly busy road to Hazleton long barrows.

I've been aware of these long barrows for years, but knowing that they were in a pretty bad state I've never made the effort to come. However, as I'm now walking the Gloucestershire Way less than a mile away, it seems rude not to finally come and have a look. Older StreetView images suggest that the southern barrow lies open to the road, but sadly someone with a penchant for barbed wire has put an end to that.

The site of the nothern barrow reveals nothing much, other than what appears to be a lighter scattering of limestone on the planted surface of the field. The southern barrow is better, a reasonable mound right next to the road. The barbed wire doesn't invite a closer look, but it's not really a monument you need to get up close and personal with, sadly.

Still, it's an easy visit and I'm glad I've finally made the effort. Of course, post-visit the barrows have taken on a much wider fame, courtesy of careful DNA research. All this is still to come though.

From here I rejoin the Gloucestershire Way route, which will take me past Salperton Park, through Notgrove (Notgrove long barrow is sadly too much of a detour today), then onto Cold Aston, heading across the Cotswold plateau via a few minor ascents and descents. The final barrow of the day will be the best though...
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
23rd January 2022ce
Edited 23rd January 2022ce

Visited 17.7.10.
Another site I 'visited' today where I couldn't see a thing due to tall crops in the field. However, I did previously see a good reconstruction of the site in the Corinium Museum in Cirencester - excellent place to visit – highly recommended.
Posted by CARL
20th July 2010ce

Marked on the OS map, we spotted this as we were passing.

Sadly, there's not much to see here now at all. There's a slight mound above the level of the field (6 or so inches), but unless you were specifically looking you'd never know it.

A piece of antler was found during the 1979-82 excavation of the North Barrow.

(Added to save other people time and bother looking...)
ocifant Posted by ocifant
10th May 2003ce
Edited 11th May 2003ce


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The eminent Leslie Valentine Grinsell spoke to a local farmer in Puesdown Inn in 1959. He told him that the older farmers in the area would say that when the plough went over one of these longbarrows, the ground sounded hollow.

The south barrow used to have 2 upright stones at its SE end, but these were gone by the 1920s. Got in the way of the plough probably. Oh well. But they kind of indicate the 'megalithic' nature of the barrow and hence that it might well have sounded hollow, maybe having a chamber inside.

(Trans Brist Gloc Arch Soc 1960 - Gloucestershire Barrows)
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
4th April 2005ce


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Details of long barrows on Pastscape

SP 07191882 and SP 07261889 Long Barrows (NR) The southern barrow measures 165 ft by 80 ft by 3 ft high, and is oriented SE/NW. Two orthostats visible in Witts' time near the SE. The northern barrow measures 180 ft by 75 ft, is oriented ENE/WSW and its present height is 6 ft at the west end and 3 ft at the east end, which was the higher in Witts' time. (2-5)
Ploughing has almost completely destroyed the southernmost of these two long barrows and has reduced the other in both width and length. (6) Two barrows, the long barrow at SP 07191883 has been reduced by ploughing to a roughtly oval mound 50.0m long by 26.0m wide and up to 1.2m high. There is a concentration of fragmented stone towards the SE end which may mark the chamber noted by Witts. (3) No trace of the orthostats remain.
The barrow at SP 07261889 although damaged by ploughing on the east, is in much better condition and the west portion appears undisturbed. The overall dimension are 58.0m long by 24.0m wide, and up to 1.7m high at the west end and 0.8m high at the east. Present appearance suggest that the barrow faced SW, however Witts' observation that the NE end was the higher in his time introduces some doubt on this. Neither barrow exhibits any visible trace of side ditches. Resurveyed at 1:2500 on AM. (7)
SP 073189: Hazelton North long cairn was excavated in 1979 by A Saville. The cairn was trapezodial in shape and survives to a length of 51 metres with a maximum width of 18 metres. It was found to be a blind entrace type of the Cotswold-severn tomb with a pair of opposed lateral chambers. The blind entrance is non-orthostatic and is marked by a shallow concavity in the terminal dry stone walling. The cairn is orientated approximately west-east with its broad end situated to the west. Fieldwalking in the surrounding area produced lithic debris, including leaf arrowheads and a polished stone axe fragment. A Roman coins was found on the barrow's surface. (8-9)
SP 073 189. Total excavation of Hazleton north barrow took place between 1979 and 1982. The original length of the barrow was shown to have been between 54-55m, whilst its maximum width had been 19m in the west and 9m in the east. Its structure was composed of dump-deposits of soil, marl and rubble divided into 19 cellular units by internal revetment walling. These units lay to either side of a central axial revetment aligned E-W. This cellular core was then revetted by an outer dry-stone wall, doubled at the western end to form the 'horns' of the courtyard, (which was bare of features other than a central hearth). The 2 burial chambers were located near the centre of the cairn, c25m E of the horns. They were similar in plan, comprising a 'sock-shaped' arrangement of an elongated entrance passage with an eastward, right-angled, turn into a roughly rectangular chamber. The chamber walls were built of contiguous orthostats with supplementary dry stone work where gaps existed. The cairn was flanked to the N and S by quarries from which much of the material for its construction had been obtained. The quarry to the north was 2.2m deep X 28m wide, whilst that to the south was 2.2m deep and over 20m wide. Their primary fills contained red deer antlers, (not converted into picks), fragments of Abingdon Style pottery and in the S quarry, a hearth. From within the cairn 23 skulls were recovered, (although the remains of a total of up to 30 individuals may have been represented). Ages and sexes were equally distributed between both chambers. A small number of items found within the chambers included a flint axe fragment, 2 bone beads and fragments of a undecorated cup or bowl. The final inhumation on the N side was accompanied by a large flint core under the right elbow and a quartzite pebble hammerstone adjacent to the left hand. An analysis of radio carbon dates for the skeletal evidence suggests a period of use for the barrow spanning only 300 years (c3800 - 3500 BC) [see source 12].
The buried soil beneath the cairn contained a midden-like deposit to the W of the burial chambers. This included fragments of a carinated vessel, carbonised seeds and nutshells, post/stakeholes and an associated hearth lay to the West of the midden suggesting early Neolithic domestic activity. A concentrated scatter of 55 mesolithic microliths was discovered in the same area. Exploratory trenching of Hazleton South Cairn revealed that this was also a side chambered cairn by that it had suffered badly through cultivation. [see source 10]. (10-12)
Two Neolithic long barrows are visible on aerial photographs as earthworks in a field between Pen Hill and the village of Hazleton. The northernmost barrow was totally excavated in 1979-82. These features were mapped from aerial photographs as part of The Cotswold Hills NMP project.
The northernmost barrow, which was completely excavated in 1979-1982 was centred at SP 0728 1891. Prior to excavation it was visible as an extant earthwork of trapezoid shape on aerial photographs and measured approximately 63m WSW to ENE and 22m NNW to SSE.
The southernmost barrow is centred at SP 0720 1884, and measures approximately 51m north-west to south-east and 21m south-west to north-east. This barrow is oval shaped in plan, and remains an extant earthwork (14-15).
Chance Posted by Chance
10th June 2014ce

Ocifant may not have been very impressed with the long barrows at Hazleton, but did he realise they feature in 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'? Surely that would have changed his mind. Well, perhaps not.

In the film Harrison Ford gives a lecture to his archaeology class about 'Turkdean barrow near Hazleton'. He says "This site demonstrates one of the great dangers of archaeology.. not of life and limb although that does sometimes take place.. No, I'm talking about folklore. In this case a local tradition held that there was a golden coffin buried at the site... this accounts for the holes dug all over the barrow..."

I've no idea if this common folklore motif really is attached to this barrow (a golden coffin is supposed to be at Windmill Tump, near a (different) Hazleton Manor). Lots of barrows have the folklore that they contain a golden object (though it's very rare that any actually do) so it's not surprising the film makers should mention this theme - all three films are about myth and archaeology are they not?

Perhaps the film makers chose Hazleton because the north barrow there was very comprehensively excavated - I suppose it must be a well known example of a Cotswold-Severn style barrow amongst archaeologists. The films all have some loose! basis in 'real' legendary subjects. But I don't think it was excavated until the 1980s! so Dr Jones in his 1930s university wouldn't have heard of it.

Perhaps you could visit the Corinium Museum in Cirencester, where they have reconstructed the chambers, if you want to know what was found.

Personally I'm quite frightened that my current interest might be simply traced subconsciously to a childhood obsession with a film.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
2nd September 2004ce
Edited 25th August 2005ce


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DNA Analysis of remains - report in The Guardian.

DNA analysis of bodies in Hazleton North long cairn finds five generations of an extended family...
Posted by weirwolf
23rd December 2021ce


The EH Archaeological Monograph 'Hazleton North: the excavation of a Neolithic long cairn of the Cotswold-Severn group' by Alan Saville (1990) can now be downloaded from the ADS site.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
12th December 2014ce
Edited 12th December 2014ce

British Archaeology

Alan Saville describes his excavation of a flint knapper's skeleton in this article in the snappily titled 'Favourite Finds' series.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
16th December 2004ce