Sunday, 12 February 2012

Cotswold mounds and tumps

I was surprised to find that locally many chambered burial mounds and standing stones have either been destroyed or moved over the last 100 years.
Belas Knap
© Copyright andy dolman and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
From rossmythwiki.
 Our most famous mound 'Belas Knap' is luckily still in good order and is well worth a visit. ( excuse the music on the link). It's name comes from the Old English 'bel-cnaepp' meaning beacon mound,or some say 'beautiful mound'..Bel can also mean 'God' and in Celtic means 'shining'. Some people think it is linked to Belenus a Celtic God known as the 'shining one'.The following link is to a little video of Belas Knap..please excuse the music.
 It is a Severn-Cotswold type and was built around 4000 BC. At the same time around he world, Arithmetic was being used by the Sumerians in Mesopotamia, Apples were being cultivated in Central Asia, Bridges were being built in Africa, Fragrances were being made in Egypt, Horses were being domesticated in Europe and popcorn was being eaten in North New Mexico.!
A man called John Hurman found that the skulls of remains found in long barrows often had elongated skulls while in round barrows they had round skulls. Just to be awkward most of the skulls are elongated but one was round and placed at  the false entrance.

Some of the barrows that have disappeared or can only just be seen are :
A burial chamber at Notgrove that was back filled after excavation and now is just a lump of a mound.
Slade barn chambered mound destroyed by ploughing.
Hazleton, another that was excavated then destroyed by ploughing.
No signs of the three barrows at Southam.
Leygore manor near Northleach. In 1883 there were three barrows but are now almost gone.
Lineover near Dowdeswell, another barrow in a forlorn state...but there is a lovely wood worth visiting.
Near Spoonley Wood ,Winchcombe there is a long barrow bank near the saltway. I haven't walked over there yet but I can't see anything on the aerial photo.
Very little remains of the longbarrow near Pinnock Wood Farm, Winchcombe, near the Gloucestershire way.
There also used to be a chambered cairn in a field called Giant's grove in Prestbury.
A round barrow on Cleeve hill has also disappeared.
Long barrow in centre of Cheltenham, St James.
The question for me is should they be saved, rescued, signposted etc ? I certainly think they should be protected from any more damage .
Luckily here are still remains of others but none quite as splendid as Belas Knap although there is supposed to be a very good one at Lodge Park near Northleach.
Locally the ones that can be seen are :
Round barrows at Guiting Power,
Sales lot a chambered cairn near Withington. 18 bodies were found here in an excavation in 1963.
The following link is to a really interesting website. You can find details and links to aerial maps of lots of ancient monuments.I think I will make up my own walks to try and find some of them, a great excuse to get out walking..
A gentleman called Tom Brooks has spent a long time researching into the linked geometry of tumps and mounds...please click on link for more details.
Liz Poraj-Wilczynsky -Sensing the Past. Liz is an artist and a sensory archaeologist. She has an amazing amount of stories and information about Belas Knap and local history.


  1. We have some standing stones, hill forts and barrow-like constructions on Bredon Hill but it does seem that they're subject to the will of the plough. Several have been moved but the ones that remain are, hopefully, now protected and well worth the climb up to see them.
    Given the fuss made about saving old churches from demolition, I'd always say these places need to be protected from further harm - they are as important a guide to the history and progress of Britain as Stonehenge and Avebury.

  2. I totally agree with you. I must have a wander up Bredon Hill, good place for kite flying !



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