Evaluating prehistoric barrow cemeteries on the chalk downlands of east Dorset

Authors: Cheetham, P. and Gale, J.

Conference: The Annual Conference for Archaeologists, The Institute of Field Archaeologists

Dates: 2-4 April 2007


The landscape of Dorset is liberally sprinkled with the remains of prehistoric activity and none more so than the chalk lands both in the east and west of the county. These same chalk lands have also attracted vigorous arable farming regimens over the centuries which has resulted in the decimation of extensive barrow cemeteries particularly those that lie in the east of the county, concentrated mostly in the rich archaeological landscapes of Cranborne Chase. Such is the scale of the damage that the majority of these funerary monuments are represented in the archaeological record as ‘ploughed’ out ring ditches. Not only is the quantification of such monuments inadequately understood but also our level of understanding of the likely preservation of data (for the most part still being destroyed year on year) is inadequately formed.

Since the summer of 2002 a seasonal programme of survey and excavation has been undertaken at the Bronze Age barrow cemetery (High Lea Farm barrow group) near the village of Hinton Martell, Wimborne, Dorset. In addition to the predictable research questions into the origins and development of the cemetery, a fundamental part of the project design has been directed towards how such agriculturally ravaged monuments can be qualitatively evaluated.

Using a combination of techniques involving test pitting and geophysical investigation (at varying resolutions) followed by targeted excavation, it has been possible to address issues on the survival of archaeological data and how to go about recovering it in similar landscapes.


Source: Manual

Preferred by: Paul Cheetham

The data on this page was last updated at 15:59 on May 5, 2021.