Early Bronze Age barrow

3050

In February 2016, we had the rare opportunity to excavate an Early Bronze Age (2400–1500 BC) round barrow – a mound of earth and/or stone raised over a central burial. Although round barrows were built in every part of the country many have been destroyed, mainly by ploughing. However, the mound of this round barrow still partly survived, meaning that its excavation was the first of its kind for several years in this part of lowland Devon. 
 
The barrow was excavated by hand, starting with two opposing quadrants. This technique allowed us to look at how the mound had been built up using different materials, some of them dug out of a surrounding circular ditch, 28 m in diameter. Under the centre of the barrow we found a cremation burial placed in a pottery urn. To have been commemorated in such a spectacular way we can assume that whoever was buried in this grave was a person of some importance in the community. 
 
A number of other urned cremation burials were found on the periphery of the round barrow. These ‘satellite’ burials may have been relatives or descendants of the person buried in the central grave. 
 
A significant amount of Mesolithic and Neolithic worked flint was also found around the barrow, which suggests that this location had been used many thousands of years before the barrow was built. When the barrow finally went out of use, its ditch gradually filled up with eroded mound material, no doubt helped by later ploughing.
 
Excavations of a second barrow located only 50 m to the north is currently underway. Keep an eye out for more information about these investigations.