Continuing my perambulations and thoughts on bowl barrows in Brentmoor Heath

On Thursday, a lovely dry day this week, I looked for the bowl barrow near the houses at New England, which the estimable Speedicus pointed to the Historic England record, in my article HERE].

In preparation for my investigation I printed the pages about the bowl barrow scheduled monument from the Historic England record. I also looked again at the 1930’s photo of the four bowl barrows, which I claim shows a fifth bowl barrow – see my article HERE. On reflection, I wondered why the archaeologist Leslie Grinsell hadn’t thought there were five bowl barrows when he studied the photo. My conclusion is that his interpretation is more likely to be correct than mine. More research needed by me.

Anyway, back to the bowl barrow at New England [see Historic England record HERE]. Here’s part of that record,

Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often acted as a focus for burials in later periods.

Although it has suffered from some subsequent disturbance, the bowl barrow at New England survives well and will retain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction and original use.

The barrow has a roughly circular mound 16m in diameter and up to 1m high, partly disturbed by long term use of an east-west aligned public bridleway which crosses the monument. Surrounding the mound is a ditch from which material used to construct the barrow was excavated. This has become infilled over the years but survives as a buried feature up to 2m wide. The northern side of the ditch has been partly disturbed by a deep depression, part of a modern sports cycling route.

Here are my photos of what I found. Must say that the bowl barrow is hardly recognisable as such. As a scheduled ancient monument it isn’t identified in the same way as the four bowl barrows.

More about the possible site of the fifth bowl barrow

In revisiting the possible site of the fifth bronze-age bowl barrow in Brentmoor Heath I took a photo of the site from a different angle. While I recognise it’s not clear, it does show a small hump in the centre of the photo, which I believe to be the possible site – see below.

The heathland immediately to the south of the four bowl barrows, and to the left of the fifth bowl barrow – as shown in the 1930’s black and white photo – seems to have little noticeable vegetation.

This is not the case now. It’s difficult to investigate this area as a possible site for the fifth bowl barrow due to the dense growth of vegetation. A photo I took in December 2016 of the area, although, sadly, a little to the right of a possible alternative fifth barrow site, shows that the area had been scraped clean of vegetation. The ground seems to be flat with no recognisable humps or hollows approximating to a bowl barrow. Therefore, I’m moderatly convinced of my choice of the site of the fifth bowl barrow.

Finding the fifth bronze-age bowl barrow remains elusive

Yesterday in the fine sunny weather, and carrying a copy of the 1930’s aerial photo of the bronze-age bowl barrows in Brentmoor Heath, I ventured out to find the elusive fifth bowl barrow.

The photo, below, of the bowl barrows clearly shows the group of four bowl barrows. Less clear is the smaller bowl barrow, indistinct it might be, is the small circular barrow, which can be seen just to the right of the larger barrows. Below this photo is what I discovered.

I tramped around the heathland looking for evidence of the fifth barrow. Not having exact measurements of its location it was always going to be difficult to locate, and so it proved.

I think I found the likely location, although there was no obvious evidence, just an intelligent guess on my part from holding the photo in my hand, and judging where it might be in relation to the other barrows.

Here are two photos of what I found. The first photo looks back the the four barrows – the information board can be seen in the distance. The guess of the location is directly behind the tree at the right in the photo. The second photo is my guess of the location of the fifth barrow. My walking pole can be seen in the background to give a sense of scale. [click on photos to expand]

Looking for the fifth bronze-age bowl barrow in Brentmoor Heath

The four 4000 year old bowl barrows in Brentmoor Heath are easily accessible as a path runs next to them. In the 1930’s photo below – notice the lack of trees – you can just about pick out the fifth bowl barrow.  It is smaller and lies close by to the right of the four bowl barrows.

I’ve long been fascinated by them, and a while back wrote about them in some detail in Accepting the challenge to discover more about the bowl barrows in Brentmoor Heath.

I’ve not located the fith bowl barrow. As part of the need to get out, away from the TV, caused by my addiction to the Tour de France, I’m off to hunt for it.

Brentmoor Heath bowl barrow information board returns

In the summer this year I wrote about ‘Is decay the natural order of things’.  The article was about the missing information boards in Brentmoor Heath, notably the one by the four bronze-age bowl barrows.

Visiting the heath yesterday I noticed that the information board had returned.

There was no change to the description of the nearby sarsen stone’s presumed tool marks when it was dug out of the heathland. Eminent commenter, Speedicus Triplicatum HERE, is circumspect on the markings, considering them likely to be from the JCB’s bucket that moved the stone to this location.

Here are two photos of the stone. One on the left is from 2009, and on the right from yesterday. Click on images to expand

Is decay the natural order of things?

This reason I ask, if decay is the natural order of things, is that on a recent heathland walk I noticed that the information boards for Sapper Pond and the Bronze-Age Bowl Barrows, in Brentmoor Heath, have gone missing.

Looking on the situation kindly it could be that they’re being updated and will be replaced by Surrey Wildlife Trust. Let’s hope so.

Below are the photos of the information boards now missing, a photo of the posts by the bowl barrows, and a photo on Sapper Pond.

I’ve discovered quite a bit about the bronze-age bowl barrows, and should you want to know more about them, see my article – Accepting the challenge to discover more about the bowl barrows in Brentmoor Heath.


Accepting the challenge to discover more about the bowl barrows in Brentmoor Heath

My admiration is boundless to the vast, nay, I’d say, encyclopedic knowledge of the readers and commenters to this blog. Yet again Speeedicus triplicatum leads when he says in comment to THIS blog article,

I’ve never found much online about the 4 Barrows next to the Red Road …..

He continues to add this wonderful piece of history about the bowl barrow site,

… The [Surrey Wildlife Trust information board] by the barrows always makes me smile when it waxes lyrical about the ‘tool marks’ on a nearby Sarsen allegedly made by Bronze age masons … actually, the Stone was trundled down from the A322 Roundabout construction in the 1970s by a JCB with sharp teeth in its Bucket !

Couldn’t resist Speedicus’s implied challenge. After some time googling, here’s what I’ve discovered about the burial mounds,

  • The Chobham website has some information on burial mounds in our local area
  • The Makers of the Heath by Iain Wakeford has a cracking photo, though focus is on Woking, useful none the less
  • Surrey barrows 1934-1986: a reappraisal by Leslie Grinsell, who surveyed the barrows in 1932, is the authoritative source, though a somewhat dry academic description. [Note: Click on Accept to download the PDF file]. Oh, and his report says there are 12 such barrows in Surrey Heath. But where?  More work for me to do methinks.

Below are photos of [click to expand], of the barrows, the information board, the sarsen stone, an aerial photo from the 1930’s [my, how things have changed], and a contour survey 1930’s survey,