Long barrow

Long barrows, also known as chambered tombs, were a style of monument constructed across Western Europe in the fifth and fourth millennia BCE, during the Early Neolithic period. Typically constructed from earth and either timber or stone, those using the latter material represent the oldest widespread tradition of stone construction in the world.

The long barrows consist of an earthen tumulus, or "barrow", sometimes with a timber or stone chamber in one end. These monuments often contained human remains interred within their chambers, and as a result, are often interpreted as tombs, although there are some examples where this appears not to have happened. The choice of whether to use timber or stone may have had more to do with the availability of local materials than any cultural differences.

The earliest examples developed in Iberia and western France during the mid-fifth millennium BCE. The tradition then spread northwards, into the British Isles and then the Low Countries and Southern Scandinavia. Each area developed its own regional variations of the long barrow tradition, often exhibiting their own architectural innovations. The purpose and meaning of such barrows remains an issue of debate among archaeologists. One argument is that they are religious sites, perhaps erected as part of a system of ancestor veneration or as a religion spread by missionaries or settlers. An alternative explanation views them primarily in economic terms, as territorial markers delineating the areas controlled by different communities as they transitioned toward farming.

Around 40,000 chambered long barrows survive today. Many have been excavated by archaeologists, from whom our knowledge about them derives.

Wayland Smithy Long barrow
View of Wayland's Smithy Long Barrow, a remarkable long barrow near Uffington
West Kennet Long Barrow - HDR
View of West Kennet Long Barrow, a striking example of the long barrow structure

Terminology and definition

Kitscoty, Blue Bell Hill
In cases such as Kit's Coty House, Kent, the earthen mound of a long barrow has been removed, exposing a stone chamber within. In this case, the surviving chamber represents a trilithon that it commonly called a dolmen

Given their dispersal across Western Europe, long barrows have been given different names in the various different languages of this region.[1] The term "barrow" is a southern English dialect word for an earthen tumulus, and was adopted as a scholarly term for such monuments by the 17th century English antiquarian John Aubrey.[2] Synonyms found in other parts of Britain included low in Cheshire, Staffordshire, and Derbyshire, tump in Gloucestershire and Hereford, howe in Northern England and Scotland, and cairn in Scotland.[3] Another term to have achieved international usage has been "dolmen", a Breton word meaning "table-stone"; this is typically used in reference to the stone chambers found in some, although not all, long barrows.[1]

The historian Ronald Hutton suggested that such sites could also be termed "tomb-shrines" to reflect the fact that they appear to have often been used both to house the remains of the dead and to have been used in ritualised activities.[1]

Chambered and earthen

The decision as to whether a long barrow used wood or stone appears to have been based largely on the availability of resources.[4]

Some of the long barrows contained stone-lined chambers within them. Early 20th century archaeologists began to call these monuments chambered tombs.[1] The archaeologists Roy and Lesley Adkins referred to these monuments as megalithic long barrows.[5] In most cases, local stone was used where it was available.[6] The style of the chamber falls into two categories. One form, known as grottes sepulchrales artificielles in French archaeology, are dug into the earth.[7] The second form, which is more widespread, are known as cryptes dolmeniques in French archaeology and involved the chamber being erected above ground.[7] Many chambered long barrows contained side chambers within them, often producing a cruciform shape.[8] Others had no such side alcoves; these are known as undifferentiated tombs.[8]

The term earthen long barrow was coined by the British archaeologist Stuart Piggott.[2] These long barrows might have used timber because stone was not available.[1]

Design and architecture

The construction of long barrows in the Early Neolithic would have required the co-operation of a number of different individuals and would have represented an important investment in time and resources.[9]

Many were altered and restyled over their long period of use.[6] Ascertaining at what date a chambered long barrow was constructed is difficult for archaeologists as a result of the various modifications that were made to the monument during the Early Neolithic.[10] Similarly, both modifications and later damage can make it difficult to determine the nature of the original long barrow design.[11]

Enviro-archaeological studies have demonstrated that many of the long barrows were erected in wooded landscapes.[12] In Britain, these chambered long barrows are typically located on prominent hills and slopes,[13] in particular being located above rivers and inlets and overlooking valleys.[14] In Britain, long barrows were also often constructed near to causewayed enclosures, a form of earthen monument.[6]

Distribution and chronology

Distribution of long barrows
The distribution of known Early Neolithic long barrows and related funerary monuments

Across Europe, about 40,000 long barrows are known to survive from the Early Neolithic.[1] They are found across much of Western Europe; stretching from southeast Spain up to southern Sweden and taking in the British Isles to the west.[1] The long barrows are not the world's oldest known structures using stone—they are predated by Göbekli Tepe in modern Turkey—but they do represent the oldest widespread tradition of using stone in construction.[15] The archaeologist Frances Lynch has described them as "the oldest built structures in Europe" to survive.[16] Although found across this large area, they can be subdivided into clear regionalised traditions based on architectural differences.[1]

Excavation has revealed that some of the long barrows in the area of modern Spain, Portugal, and western France were erected in the mid-fifth millennium BCE, making these older than those long barrows further north.[15] Although the general area in which the oldest long barrows were built is therefore known, archaeologists do not know exactly where the tradition started nor which long barrows are the very first ones to have been built.[15] It therefore appears that the architectural tradition developed in this southern area of Western Europe before spreading north, along the Atlantic coast.[15] The tradition had reached Britain by the first half of the fourth millennium BCE, either soon after farming or in some cases perhaps just before it.[15] It later spread further north on mainland Europe, for instance arriving in the Netherlands in the second half of the fourth millennium BCE.[15]

Later in the Neolithic, burial practices tended to place greater emphasis on the individual, suggesting a growing social hierarchy and a move away from collective burial.[17] One of the last chambered tombs erected was Bryn Celli Ddu in Anglesey, Wales, built long after people stopped building them across most of Western Europe. The conscious anachronism of the monument led excavators to suggest that its construction was part of a deliberate attempt by people to restore older religious practices that were extinct elsewhere.[18]

Hutton suggested that this tradition "defines the Early Neolithic of Western Europe" more than any other.[1] For the archaeologist Caroline Malone, the long barrows are "some of the most impressive and aesthetically distinctive constructions of prehistoric Britain".[17] Her fellow archaeologist Frances Lynch stated that these long barrows "can still inspire awe, wonder and curiosity even in modern populations familiar with Gothic cathedrals and towering skyscrapers."[16]

Regional variation

In the area of southern Spain, Portugal, southwestern France, and Brittany, the long barrows typically include large stone chambers.[16]

Jacket's Field Long Barrow I
Jacket's Field long barrow, one of the earthen long barrows that are clustered around the River Stour in Kent.

In Britain, earthen long barrows predominate across much of the southern and eastern parts of the island.[16] Around 300 earthen long barrows are known from across the eastern side of Britain, from Aberdeenshire in the north down to the South Downs in the south, with two projections westward into Dorset and Galloway.[2] Excavation has suggested that these earthen long barrows were likely constructed between 3800 and 3000 BCE.[2]

Another prominent regional tradition in Britain is the Cotswold-Severn Group found in the west of the island.[19] These are typically chambered long barrows, and contained human bone in comparatively large quantities, averaging between 40 and 50 people in each.[19]

The long barrows found in the Netherlands and northern Germany also used stone in their construction where it was available.[4] The examples of long barrows found in parts of Poland are also typically earthen rather than megalithic.[16] Further north, in Denmark and southern Sweden, the long barrows typically used stone in their construction.[16]

Function

The purpose and meaning of Early Neolithic long barrows are not known, however, archaeologists can make suggestions on the basis of recurring patterns that can be observed within the tradition.[20] Archaeologists, however, have not agreed upon the most likely meaning and purpose of these monuments, with various different interpretations being put forward.[21] Lynch suggested that the long barrows likely had "broad religious and social roles" for the communities who built and used them, comparing them in this way to the churches of medieval and modern Europe.[22]

Funerary spaces

Many of the long barrows were used as tombs in which to place the remains of deceased individuals.[1] For this reason, archaeologists like Malone have referred to them as "houses of the dead".[17] Conversely, many of the long barrows do not appear to have been used as tombs; various examples that have been excavated by archaeologists have shown no evidence of having had human remains deposited there.[23] The archaeologists David Lewis-Williams and David Peace, however, noted that these long barrows were more than tombs, also being "religious and social foci", suggesting that they were places where the dead were visited by the living and where people maintained relationships with the deceased.[24]

In some cases, the bones deposited in the chamber may have been old when placed there.[10] In other instances, they may have been placed into the chamber long after the long barrow was built.[10] In some instances, collections of bone originally included in the chamber might have been removed and replaced during the Early Neolithic itself.[25]

The human remains placed in long barrows often included a mix of men, women, and children.[22] The bones of various individuals were often mixed together.[22] This may have reflected a desire to obliterate distinctions of wealth and status among the deceased.[22] Not all of those who died in the Early Neolithic were buried in these long barrows, although what criteria was used to determine whose remained were interred there and whose were not remains unknown.[26] Large sections of the Early Neolithic population were not buried in them, although how their bodily remains are dealt with is not clear.[17] It is possible that they were left in the open air.[17]

It is also not known where the act of excarnation took place prior to the deposition of bones within the chambers.[25] Some human bones have been found in the ditches of causewayed enclosures, a form of Early Neolithic earthen monument, while evidence for the Early Neolithic outdoor exposure of corpses has also been found at Hambledon Hill.[25] The postholes found in front of many long barrows may also have represented the bases of platforms on which excarnation took place.[25]

When entering the chambers to either add or remove new material, individuals would likely have been exposed to the smell of decaying corpses.[27] It is unknown if entering this area was therefore seen by Early Neolithic Europeans as an ordeal to be overcome or an honourable job to be selected for.[27]

In some chambers, human remains were arranged and organised according to the type of bone or the age and sex of the individual that they came from, factors that determined which chamber they were placed in.[10] Lynch noted that "the bulk of our surviving evidence suggests that collectivity became and remained the norm until the late neolithic".[25]

Comparatively rarely, grave goods have been found interred alongside human bone inside the long barrows.[28] Where these have been found, archaeologists have typically interpreted them as the remains of funerary ceremonies or of feasts.[28] The choice of grave goods included reflects regional variation.[28] In the Cotswold-Severn Group in southwestern England, cattle bones were commonly found within the chambers, where they had often been treated in a manner akin to the human remains.[29]

Sometimes human remains were deposited in the chambers over many centuries.[10] For instance, at West Kennet Long Barrow in Oxfordshire, Southern England, the earliest depositions of human remains were radiocarbon dated to the early-to-mid fourth millennium BCE, while a later deposition of human remains was found to belong to the Beaker culture, thus indicating a date in the final centuries of the third millennium BCE; this meant that human remains had been placed into the chamber intermittently over a period of 1500 years.[10] This indicates that some chambered long barrows remained in sporadic use until the Late Neolithic.[30]

In various cases, archaeologists have found specific bones absent from the assemblages within the chambers. For instance, at Fussell's Lodge in Wiltshire, southern England, a number of skeletal assemblages were found to be missing not just small bones but also long bones and skulls.[31] It is therefore possible that some bones were deliberately removed from the chambers in the Early Neolithic for use in ritualistic activities.[32]

Origins of the design

The source of inspiration for the design of the chambered long barrows remains unclear.[15] Suggestions that have proved popular among archaeologists is that they were inspired either by natural rock formations or by the shape of wooden houses.[33] It has been suggested that their design was based on the wooden long houses found in central Europe during the Early Neolithic, however there is a gap of seven centuries between the last known long houses and the first known chambered long barrows.[21]

Gussage down long barrow
A well-preserved earthen long barrow on Gussage Down in the Cranborne Chase area of Dorset, England
Grans barrow hampshire
Grans Barrow on Toyd Down, Hampshire, U.K. The long barrow mound is 60 metres long, 20 metres wide and over 2 metres high.

Religious sites

According to one possible explanation, the long barrows served as markers of place that were connected to Early Neolithic ideas about cosmology and spirituality, and accordingly were centres of ritual activity mediated by the dead.[34] The inclusion of human remains has been used to argue that these long barrows were involved in a form of ancestor veneration.[34] Malone suggested that the prominence of these barrows suggested that ancestors were deemed far more important to Early Neolithic people than their Mesolithic forebears.[17] In the early twentieth century, this interpretation of the long barrows as religious sites was often connected to the idea that they were the holy sites of a new religion spread by either settlers or missionaries. This explanation has been less popular with archaeologists since the 1970s.[21]

Adopting an approach based in cognitive archaeology, Lewis-Williams and Pearce argued that the chambered long barrows "reflected and at the same time constituted... a culturally specific expression of the neurologically generated tiered cosmos", a cosmos mediated by a system of symbols.[35] They suggested that the entrances to the chambers were viewed as transitional zones where sacrificial rituals took place, and that they were possibly spaces for the transformation of the dead using fire.[29]

Territorial markers

A second explanation is that these long barrows were intrinsically connected to the transition to farming, representing a new way of looking at the land. In this interpretation, the long barrows served as territorial markers, dividing up the land, signifying that it was occupied and controlled by a particular community, and thus warning away rival groups.[21] In defending this interpretation, Malone noted that each "tomb-territory" typically had access to a range of soils and landscape types in its vicinity, suggesting that it could have represented a viable territorial area for a particular community.[6] Also supporting this interpretation is the fact that the distribution of chambered long barrows on some Scottish islands shows patterns that closely mirror modern land divisions between farms and crofts.[6] This interpretation also draws ethnographic parallels from recorded communities around the world, who have also used monuments to demarcate territory.[34]

This idea became popular among archaeologists in the 1980s and 1990s, and—in downplaying religion while emphasising an economic explanation for these monuments—it was influenced by Marxist ideas then popular in the European archaeological establishment.[36] In the early twenty-first century, archaeologists began to challenge this idea, as evidence emerged that much of Early Neolithic Britain was forested and its inhabitants were likely pastoralists rather than agriculturalists. Accordingly, communities in Britain would have been semi-nomadic, with little need for territorial demarcation or clear markings of land ownership.[34] Also, this explanation fails to explain why the chambered long barrows should be clustered in certain areas rather than being evenly distributed throughout the landscape.[34]

Later history

Many of the chambered long barrows have not remained intact, having been damaged and broken up during the millennia.[3] In some cases, most of the chamber has been removed, leaving only the three-stone dolmen.[11]

Antiquarian and archaeological investigation

The first serious study of chambered long barrows took place in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when the mounds that covered chambers were removed by agriculture.[37] By the nineteenth century, antiquarians and archaeologists had come to recognise this style of monument as a form of tomb.[37] In the latter nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, archaeologists like V. Gordon Childe held to the cultural diffusionist view that such Western European monuments had been based on tombs originally produced in parts of the eastern Mediterranean region, suggesting that their ultimate origin was either in Egypt or in Crete.[38] In this view, the tradition was seen as having spread westward as part of some form of "megalithic religion".[4]

A seminal study of the long barrows authored by the Welsh archaeologist Glyn Daniel was published in 1958 as The Megalith Builders of Western Europe.[4] In 1950, the archaeologist Glyn Daniel stated that about a tenth of known chambered long barrows in Britain had been excavated,[39] while regional field studies helped to list them.[39] Few of the earlier excavations recorded or retained any human remains found in the chamber.[10] From the 1960s onward, archaeological research increasingly focused on examining regional groups of long barrows rather than the wider architectural tradition.[4] From this decade onward, the meticulous excavation of various long barrows also led to the widespread recognition that long barrows were often multi-phase monuments which had been changed over time.[4]

Up until the 1970s, archaeologists widely believed that the long barrows of Western Europe were based on Near Eastern models.[15]

The archaeologists Lewis-Williams and Pearce opined that the emphasis on classification of these monuments into sub-types could be a self-defeating aim for archaeologists, as it distracted them from the task of explaining the meaning and purpose behind them.[8]

Modern revival

All cannings longbarrow modern inside
Inside one of the Chambers of the barrow

In 2015 the first long barrow in thousands of years, the Long Barrow at All Cannings, inspired by those built in the Neolithic, was built on land just outside the village of All Cannings. The project was instigated by Tim Daw, a local farmer and steward of Stonehenge.[40] The barrow was designed to have a large number of private niches within the stone and earth structure to receive cremation urns.

The structure received significant media attention, with national press writing extensively about the revival of the structures, and various episodes of filming, for example by BBC Countryfile as it was being built. It was fully subscribed within eighteen months.

This was followed soon after by new barrows at:

Examples

Notable examples of surviving long barrows include:

Gallery

Belas-knap

Belas Knap Long Barrow

Groensalen

Grønsalen Long Barrow

Waylands-smithy-2006-10-23

Side view of Wayland's Smithy Long Barrow

Uley Long Barrow - End chamber

Uley Long Barrow - end chamber

Coldrumeast

Coldrumeast Long Barrow

References

Footnotes

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Hutton 2013, p. 40.
  2. ^ a b c d Hutton 2013, p. 44.
  3. ^ a b Daniel 1950, p. 6.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Lynch 1997, p. 9.
  5. ^ Adkins, Adkins & Leitch 2008, p. 46.
  6. ^ a b c d e Malone 2001, p. 107.
  7. ^ a b Daniel 1950, p. 5.
  8. ^ a b c Lewis-Williams & Pearce 2005, p. 181.
  9. ^ Lynch 1997, pp. 5–6.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Malone 2001, p. 108.
  11. ^ a b Daniel 1950, p. 7.
  12. ^ Malone 2001, pp. 107–108.
  13. ^ Malone 2001, p. 106.
  14. ^ Malone 2001, pp. 106–107.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h Hutton 2013, p. 41.
  16. ^ a b c d e f Lynch 1997, p. 5.
  17. ^ a b c d e f Malone 2001, p. 103.
  18. ^ Lewis-Williams & Pearce 2005, p. 186.
  19. ^ a b Hutton 2013, p. 46.
  20. ^ Darvill 2004, p. 13.
  21. ^ a b c d Hutton 2013, p. 42.
  22. ^ a b c d Lynch 1997, p. 11.
  23. ^ Hutton 2013, pp. 40–41.
  24. ^ Lewis-Williams & Pearce 2005, p. 179.
  25. ^ a b c d e Lynch 1997, p. 14.
  26. ^ Lynch 1997, p. 12.
  27. ^ a b Hutton 2013, p. 50.
  28. ^ a b c Lynch 1997, p. 15.
  29. ^ a b Lewis-Williams & Pearce 2005, p. 182.
  30. ^ Malone 2001, p. 112.
  31. ^ Lynch 1997, p. 13.
  32. ^ Lynch 1997, p. 15; Hutton 2013, p. 48.
  33. ^ Hutton 2013, pp. 41—42.
  34. ^ a b c d e Hutton 2013, p. 43.
  35. ^ Lewis-Williams & Pearce 2005, p. 171.
  36. ^ Hutton 2013, pp. 42, 43.
  37. ^ a b Lynch 1997, p. 8.
  38. ^ Lynch 1997, pp. 8–9.
  39. ^ a b Daniel 1950, p. 3.
  40. ^ "Stonehenge steward builds his own burial chamber". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-08-19.
  41. ^ Makey, Julian (23 October 2016). "First burial barrow in thousands of years is completed at Hail Weston". Cambridge-news.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-08-19.
  42. ^ "'Stone age' burial mound could be built in Shropshire". BBC News. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  43. ^ "'A beautiful place for loved ones to rest': New round barrow to be built for burial ground". Bridport and Lyme Regis News. Retrieved 2018-04-27.

Bibliography

Adkins, Roy; Adkins, Lesley; Leitch, Victoria (2008). The Handbook of British Archaeology. London: Constable.
Burl, Aubrey (1981). Rites of the Gods. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 978-0460043137.
Daniel, Glynn E. (1950). The Prehistoric Chamber Tombs of England and Wales. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Darvill, Timothy (2004). Long Barrows of the Cotswolds and Surrounding Areas. Stroud: The History Press. ISBN 978-0752429076.
Hutton, Ronald (2013). Pagan Britain. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-19771-6.
Lewis-Williams, David; Pearce, David (2005). Inside the Neolithic Mind: Consciousness, Cosmos and the Realm of the Gods. London: Thames and Hudson. ISBN 978-0500051382.
Lynch, Frances (1997). Megalithic Tombs and Long Barrows in Britain. Princes Risborough: Shire Publications. ISBN 978-0747803416.
Malone, Caroline (2001). Neolithic Britain and Ireland. Stroud: Tempus. ISBN 0-7524-1442-9.

Further reading

Bradley, Richard (1998). The Significance of Monuments: On the Shaping of Human Experience in Neolithic and Bronze Age Europe. London and New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-15204-6.
Darvill, Timothy (2004). Long Barrows of the Cotswolds and Surrounding Areas. The History Press. ISBN 978-0752429076.
Dronfield, J. (1995). "Migraine, Light and Hallucinations: The Neurocognitive Basis of Irish Megalithic Art". Oxford Journal of Archaeology. 14 (3): 261–75. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0092.1995.tb00063.x.
Kinnes, Ian (1975). "Monumental Function in British Neolithic Burial Practices". World Archaeology. 7 (1): 16–29. doi:10.1080/00438243.1975.9979618.
Watson, Aaron (2001). "The Sounds of Transformation: Acoustics, Monuments and Ritual in the British Neolithic". In Neil Price (eds.). The Archaeology of Shamanism. Routledge. pp. 178–192.CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
Watson, Aaron; Keating, David (1999). "Architecture and Sound: An Acoustic Analysis of Megalithic Monuments in Prehistoric Britain". Antiquity. 73 (280). pp. 325–336.

Further reading

  • Ashbee, Paul (1984). The Earthen Long Barrow in Britain: An Introduction to the Study of the Funerary Practice and Culture of the Neolithic People of the Third Millennium B.C. Geo Books. ISBN 0-86094-170-1.
  • Hodder I, 1984, Burials, houses, women and men in the European Neolithic in D Miller and C Tilley (eds), Architecture and Order, Oxford, Basil Blackwell
  • Russell, M, 2004 The treachery of images: deconstructing the early Neolithic monumental architecture of the South Downs in Cotton, J and Field, D (eds) Towards a New Stone Age, CBA Research Report 137, York, Council for British Archaeology

External links

Addington, Kent

Addington is a village in the English county of Kent close to the M20 motorway between Wrotham Heath and West Malling. It was known as Eddintune in the Domesday Book. The meaning of Addington is Æddi's (or Eadda's) estate. Addington is notable for Addington long barrow and the Chestnuts long barrow, which are Neolithic chamber tombs in the village.

Addington Long Barrow

Addington Long Barrow is a chambered long barrow located near to the village of Addington in the southeastern English county of Kent. Constructed during Britain's Early Neolithic period, today it survives only in a ruined state. Built out of earth and around fifty local sarsen megaliths, the long barrow consisted of a sub-rectangular earthen tumulus enclosed by kerb-stones. Collapsed stones on the northeastern end of the chamber probably represented a stone chamber in which human remains might have been deposited; none, however, have been discovered.

Archaeologists have established that the monument was built by pastoralist communities shortly after the introduction of agriculture to Britain from continental Europe. Although representing part of an architectural tradition of long barrow building that was widespread across Neolithic Europe, Addington Long Barrow belongs to a localised regional variant of barrows produced in the vicinity of the River Medway, now known as the Medway Megaliths. Of these, it lies near to both Chestnuts Long Barrow and Coldrum Long Barrow on the western side of the river. Three further surviving long barrows, Kit's Coty House, the Little Kit's Coty House, and the Coffin Stone, are located on the Medway's eastern side.

After the Early Neolithic, the long barrow fell into a state of ruined dilapidation, with a small road being built through the centre of the monument by the 19th century at the latest. Local folklore grew up around the site, associating it with the countless stones motif. The ruin attracted the interest of antiquarians in the early 18th century, and was studied by local archaeologists in the 20th. Both it and the nearby Chestnuts Long Barrow are open for public viewing by appointment with the landowner.

Belas Knap

Belas Knap is a neolithic, chambered long barrow situated on Cleeve Hill, near Cheltenham and Winchcombe, in Gloucestershire, England. It is a scheduled ancient monument in the care of English Heritage but managed by Gloucestershire County Council. "Belas" is possibly derived from the Latin word bellus, 'beautiful', which could describe the hill or its view. "Knap" is derived from the Old English for the top, crest, or summit of a hill.

It is a type of monument known as the Cotswold Severn Cairn, all of which have a similar trapezoid shape, and are found scattered along the River Severn. Belas Knap is described in the English Heritage designation listing statement as an "outstanding example representing a group of long barrows

commonly referred to as the Cotswold-Severn group".

Cist

A cist ( or ; also kist ;

from Greek: κίστη or Germanic Kiste) is a small stone-built coffin-like box or ossuary used to hold the bodies of the dead. Examples can be found across Europe and in the Middle East.

A cist may have been associated with other monuments, perhaps under a cairn or long barrow. Several cists are sometimes found close together within the same cairn or barrow. Often ornaments have been found within an excavated cist, indicating the wealth or prominence of the interred individual.

This old word is preserved in the Swedish language, where "kista" is the word for a funerary coffin.

Coldrum Long Barrow

The Coldrum Long Barrow, also known as the Coldrum Stones and the Adscombe Stones, is a chambered long barrow located near the village of Trottiscliffe in the south-eastern English county of Kent. Probably constructed in the fourth millennium BCE, during Britain's Early Neolithic period, today it survives only in a state of ruin.

Archaeologists have established that the monument was built by pastoralist communities shortly after the introduction of agriculture to Britain from continental Europe. Although representing part of an architectural tradition of long barrow building that was widespread across Neolithic Europe, the Coldrum Stones belong to a localised regional variant of barrows produced in the vicinity of the River Medway, now known as the Medway Megaliths. Of these, it is in the best surviving condition. It lies near to both Addington Long Barrow and Chestnuts Long Barrow on the western side of the river. Three further surviving long barrows, Kit's Coty House, the Little Kit's Coty House, and the Coffin Stone, are located on the Medway's eastern side.

Built out of earth and around fifty local sarsen megaliths, the long barrow consisted of a sub-rectangular earthen tumulus enclosed by kerb-stones. Within the eastern end of the tumulus was a stone chamber, into which human remains were deposited on at least two separate occasions during the Early Neolithic. Osteoarchaeological analysis of these remains has shown them to be those of at least seventeen individuals, a mixture of men, women, children and adults. At least one of the bodies had been dismembered before burial, potentially reflecting a funerary tradition of excarnation and secondary burial. As with other barrows, Coldrum has been interpreted as a tomb to house the remains of the dead, perhaps as part of a belief system involving ancestor veneration, although archaeologists have suggested that it may also have had further religious, ritual, and cultural connotations and uses.

After the Early Neolithic, the long barrow fell into a state of ruined dilapidation, perhaps experiencing deliberate destruction in the Late Medieval period, either by Christian iconoclasts or treasure hunters. In local folklore, the site became associated with the burial of a prince and the countless stones motif. The ruin attracted the interest of antiquarians in the 19th century, while archaeological excavation took place in the early 20th. In 1926, ownership was transferred to heritage charity The National Trust. Open without charge to visitors all year around, the stones are the site of a rag tree, a May Day morris dance, and various modern Pagan rituals.

Cotswold-Severn Group

The Cotswold-Severn Group are a series of long barrows erected in an area of western Britain during the Early Neolithic. Around 200 known examples of long barrows are known from the Cotswold-Severn region, although an unknown number of others were likely destroyed prior to being recorded.

Grønsalen

Grønsalen or Grønjægers Høj is located near Fanefjord Church on the Danish island of Møn. Some 100 metres long and 10 metres wide, it is Denmark's largest long barrow and is widely recognised as one of Europe's outstanding ancient monuments.

Jacket's Field Long Barrow

Jacket's Field Long Barrow is an unchambered long barrow located near to the village of Boughton Aluph in the south-eastern English county of Kent. It was probably constructed in the fourth millennium BCE, during Britain's Early Neolithic period. Built out of earth, the long barrow consists of an sub-trapezoidal tumulus flanked by side ditches.

Archaeologists have established that the monument was built by a pastoralist community shortly after the introduction of agriculture to Britain from continental Europe. Although representing part of an architectural tradition of long-barrow building that was widespread across Neolithic Europe, Jacket's Field Long Barrow belongs to a localised regional variant of barrows produced in the vicinity of the River Stour. Of these, it lies on the western side of the river, while Julliberrie's Grave and Shrub's Wood Long Barrow are found on the eastern side. The site was discovered in 1970, at which point it was concealed in dense woodland, although has yet to undergo thorough archaeological investigation.

Nympsfield Long Barrow

Nympsfield Long Barrow is the remains of a Neolithic burial site or barrow, located close to the village of Nympsfield in Gloucestershire, South West England.It lies at the edge of a woods, and is now the location of a picnic site. It is one of the earliest examples of a barrow with separate chambers. It was constructed around 2800 BCE.It is a Scheduled Monument (number 22857) in the guardianship of English Heritage.Many of the finds from excavations at this site are now in the Gloucester City Museum.

Parc Cwm long cairn

Parc Cwm long cairn (Welsh: carn hir Parc Cwm), also known as Parc le Breos burial chamber (siambr gladdu Parc le Breos), is a partly restored Neolithic chambered tomb, identified in 1937 as a Severn-Cotswold type of chambered long barrow. The cromlech, a megalithic burial chamber, was built around 5850 years before present (BP), during the early Neolithic. It is about seven ​1⁄2 miles (12 km) west south–west of Swansea, Wales, in what is now known as Coed y Parc Cwm at Parc le Breos, on the Gower Peninsula.

A trapezoidal cairn of rubble – the upper part of the cromlech and its earth covering now removed – about 72 feet (22 m) long by 43 feet (13 m) (at its widest), is revetted by a low dry-stone wall. A bell-shaped, south-facing forecourt, formed by the wall, leads to a central passageway lined with limestone slabs set on end. Human remains had been placed in the two pairs of stone chambers that lead from the passageway. Corpses may have been placed in nearby caves until they decomposed, when the bones were moved to the tomb.

The cromlech was discovered in 1869 by workmen digging for road stone. An excavation later that year revealed human bones (now known to have belonged to at least 40 people), animal remains, and Neolithic pottery. Samples from the site show the tomb to have been in use for between 300 and 800 years. North-West European lifestyles changed around 6000 BP, from the nomadic lives of the hunter-gatherer, to a settled life of agricultural farming: the Neolithic Revolution. However, analysis of the human remains found at Parc Cwm long cairn show the people interred in the cromlech continued to be either hunter-gatherers or herders, rather than agricultural farmers.

Parc Cwm long cairn lies in a former medieval deer park, established in the 1220s CE by the Marcher Lord of Gower as Parc le Breos – an enclosed area of about 2,000 acres (810 ha), now mainly farmland. The cromlech is on the floor of a dry narrow limestone gorge containing about 500 acres (2.0 km2) of woodland. Free pedestrian access is via an asphalt track leading from the park's entrance, which has free parking for 12–15 cars about 250 yards (230 m) from the site. Parc Cwm long cairn is maintained by Cadw, the Welsh Government's historic environment division.

Shrub's Wood Long Barrow

Shrub's Wood Long Barrow is an unchambered long barrow located near to the village of Elmsted in the south-eastern English county of Kent. It was probably constructed in the fourth millennium BCE, during Britain's Early Neolithic period. Built out of earth, the long barrow consists of a sub-trapezoidal tumulus flanked by side ditches.

Archaeologists have established that the monument was built by a pastoralist community shortly after the introduction of agriculture to Britain from continental Europe. Although representing part of an architectural tradition of long-barrow building that was widespread across Neolithic Europe, Shrub's Wood Long Barrow belongs to a localised regional variant of barrows produced in the vicinity of the River Stour. Of these, it lies on the eastern side of the river with Julliberrie's Grave, while the third known example in this tumuli group, Jacket's Field Long Barrow, is located on the western side. Shrub's Wood Long Barrow was discovered in the late 1960s, although it has yet to undergo thorough archaeological investigation.

Smythe's Megalith

Smythe's Megalith, also known as the Warren Farm Chamber, is a chambered long barrow near the village of Aylesford in the south-eastern English county of Kent. Probably constructed in the fourth millennium BCE, during Britain's Early Neolithic period, it was discovered in 1822, at which point it was dismantled. Built out of earth and at least five local sarsen megaliths, the long barrow consisted of a roughly rectangular earthen tumulus with a stone chamber in its eastern end. Human remains were deposited into this chamber.

Archaeologists have established that the monument was built by pastoralist communities shortly after the introduction of agriculture to Britain from continental Europe. Although representing part of an architectural tradition of long barrow buildings widespread across Neolithic Europe, Smythe's Megalith belonged to a localised regional variant produced in the vicinity of the River Medway, now known as the Medway Megaliths. Several of these still survive: Coldrum Long Barrow, Addington Long Barrow, and Chestnuts Long Barrow are on the river's western side, while Kit's Coty House, the Little Kit's Coty House, and the Coffin Stone are on the eastern side nearer to Smythe's Megalith. Close to the site of the lost monument is the White Horse Stone, a standing stone that may have once been part of another chambered long barrow.

The site may have been ransacked during the Middle Ages, as other Medway Megaliths were; by the early 19th century it was buried beneath soil, largely due to millennia of hillwash coming down from the adjacent Blue Bell Hill. In 1822, it was discovered by farm labourers ploughing the land; the local antiquarians Clement Smythe and Thomas Charles were called in to examine it. Shortly after, the labourers pulled away the stones and dispersed most of the human remains, destroying the monument. Smythe and Charles produced, but did not publish, reports on their findings, and these have been discussed by archaeologists since the mid-20th century.

Stoney Littleton Long Barrow

The Stoney Littleton Long Barrow (also known as the Bath Tumulus and the Wellow Tumulus) is a Neolithic chambered tomb with multiple burial chambers, located near the village of Wellow in the English county of Somerset. It is an example of the Cotswold-Severn Group and was scheduled as an ancient monument in 1882. It was one of the initial

monuments included when the Ancient Monuments Protection Act 1882 became law.The chambered long barrow was built around 3500 BC. Excavations in the early 19th century uncovered bones from several individuals. The stone structure is about 30 metres (98 ft) in length and contains a 12.8 metres (42 ft) long gallery with three pairs of side chambers and an end chamber.

Tinkinswood

Tinkinswood or its full name Tinkinswood Burial Chamber (Welsh: Siambr Gladdu Tinkinswood), also known as Castell Carreg, Llech-y-Filiast and Maes-y-Filiast, is a megalithic burial chamber, built around 6,000 BP (before Present), during the Neolithic period, in the Vale of Glamorgan, near Cardiff, Wales.

The structure is called a dolmen, which was the most common megalithic structure in Europe. The dolmen is of the Severn-Cotswold tomb type, and consists of a large capstone on top, with smaller upright stones supporting it. The limestone capstone at Tinkinswood weighs approximately 40 long tons and measures 24 feet (7.3 m) x 14 ft (4.3 m); it is thought to be the largest in Britain, and also in Europe. It would have taken some 200 people to lift the stone into the correct position. It was originally all covered by a mound of soil, which has been removed over time, now the remaining mound behind the structure measures approximately 130 ft (40 m) x 59 ft (18 m) in size.

Tumulus

A tumulus (plural tumuli) is a mound of earth and stones raised over a grave or graves. Tumuli are also known as barrows, burial mounds or kurgans, and may be found throughout much of the world. A cairn, which is a mound of stones built for various purposes, may also originally have been a tumulus.

Tumuli are often categorised according to their external apparent shape. In this respect, a long barrow is a long tumulus, usually constructed on top of several burials, such as passage graves. A round barrow is a round tumulus, also commonly constructed on top of burials. The internal structure and architecture of both long and round barrows has a broad range, the categorization only refers to the external apparent shape.

The method of inhumation may involve a dolmen, a cist, a mortuary enclosure, a mortuary house, or a chamber tomb. Examples of barrows include Duggleby Howe and Maeshowe.

The word tumulus is Latin for 'mound' or 'small hill', which is derived from the Proto-Indo-European root *teuh2- with extended zero grade *tum-, 'to bulge, swell' also found in tumor, thumb, thigh, and thousand.

Uley Long Barrow

Uley Long Barrow, also known locally as Hetty Pegler's Tump, is a Neolithic burial mound, near the village of Uley, Gloucestershire, England.

Unchambered long barrow

The unchambered long barrow earthen long barrow, non-megalithic long barrow or non-megalithic mound (German: kammerloses Hünenbett or Hünenbett ohne Kammer), is a type of long barrow found across the British Isles, in a belt of land in Brittany, and in northern Europe as far east as the River Vistula (the Niedźwiedź type graves - NTT). The term "unchambered" means that there is no stone chamber within the stone enclosure. In Great Britain they are often known as non-megalithic long barrows or unchambered long cairns.

Since the 1980s, barrows of the Passy type, part of the Cerny culture, have been discovered in the French département of Essonne in the Paris Basin. These are not, however, megalithic structures.

Neolithic monuments are an expression of the culture and ideology of neolithic communities. Their emergence and function are a hallmark of social development.

Wayland's Smithy

Wayland's Smithy is a Neolithic long barrow and chamber tomb site located near the Uffington White Horse and Uffington Castle, at Ashbury in the English county of Oxfordshire. It is very near to The Ridgeway, an ancient road running along the Berkshire Downs.

Archaeologists have established that the monument was built by pastoralist communities shortly after the introduction of agriculture to Britain from continental Europe. Although representing part of an architectural tradition of long barrow building that was widespread across Neolithic Europe, Wayland's Smithy belongs to a localised regional variant of barrows produced in the south-west of Britain, now known as the Severn-Cotswold group. Of these, it is in one of the best surviving conditions.

The later mound was 185 feet (56 m) long and 43 feet (13 m) wide at the south end. Its present appearance is the result of restoration following excavations undertaken by Stuart Piggott and Richard Atkinson in 1962–63. They demonstrated that the site had been built in two different phases, a timber-chambered oval barrow built around 3590 and 3550 BC and a later stone-chambered long barrow in around 3460 to 3400 BC.

West Kennet Long Barrow

The West Kennet Long Barrow is a Neolithic tomb or barrow, situated on a prominent chalk ridge, near Silbury Hill, one-and-a-half miles south of Avebury in Wiltshire, England. The site was recorded by John Aubrey in the 17th century and by William Stukeley in the 18th century.

Archaeologists classify it as a chambered long barrow and one of the Severn-Cotswold tombs. It has two pairs of opposing transept chambers and a single terminal chamber used for burial. The stone burial chambers are located at one end of one of the longest barrows in Britain at 100 m: in total it is estimated that 15,700 man-hours were expended in its construction. The entrance consists of a concave forecourt with a facade made from large slabs of sarsen stones which were placed to seal entry towards the end of its life. Dry stone walling of oolitic limestone has been used to fill the gaps between the large sarsen stones. Such limestone does not occur locally and must have been transported from the Cotswold hills some 20-30 miles away.

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