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Winterbourne Stoke 

Barrow Cemetery, Wiltshire


The Long Barrow
visible from the road
is in the background

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These aerial views of Winterbourne Stoke Barrow Cemetery illustrate almost all the different varieties of earthen barrow made by Neolithic and Bronze Age man. The former built the English long barrows, noted for the multiple human burials found inside them; men, women and children. One of the easiest to see from a major road is next to the Winterbourne Stoke crossroads (now roundabout).

Also in view are a large number of Bronze Age round barrows of various varieties. On the bigger images it is possible to make out bowl barrows, bell barrows and disc barrows (all fairly self-explanatory in shape). I have read there are 27 - try counting them! Eleven of them are roughly aligned with the long barrow. 

Each round barrow has only one burial (sometime two). This suggests that between what we call Neolithic and Bronze Age periods there was a change in society towards honouring individual chieftans, as it is clear from the number of round barrows that only a few of the population were buried in one. What happened to everyone else is not known! Five of the round barrows are very early (2100BC), and contain inhumations (burials) rather than the later cremations. It is clear that the area around the abandoned long barrow remained sacred for thousands of years.

As an aside, on the subject of barrows in Wiltshire, bone flutes have been found in round barrows at Avebury and Normanton .


Access: The dual carriageway in the top picture is the A303. I haven't visited these on foot.


Personal: From a very young age I always looked out for the Long Barrow at this junction on the way to Devon or Cornwall.


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