Skip to main content
×
Home

‘A Noble Group of Barrows’: Bush Barrow and the Normanton Down Early Bronze Age Cemetery Two Centuries On

  • Stuart Needham (a1), Andrew J Lawson (a2) and Ann Woodward (a3)
Abstract
Abstract

Two hundred years after William Cunnington and Sir Richard Colt Hoare’s excavations into Bronze Age barrows on Normanton Down, Wiltshire, we offer a fresh appraisal of this renowned cemetery, which lies within sight of Stonehenge. The paper focuses specifically on burial deposits of Early Bronze Age Period 3, seen as representing a dynastic succession that controlled access to Stonehenge for a while and presided over the ceremonies therein. Pre-eminent are the finds from the Bush Barrow grave group, now housed in the Wiltshire Heritage Museum, Devizes, and still without close parallel. Long-held notions that the skeleton was extended are dispelled; instead, the grave assemblage is reconstructed around the universal crouched inhumation rite of the period, giving rise to important new implications. Special attention is also given to two probable female graves nearby; essentially contemporary, their accompaniments contrast in a number of respects, pointing to very distinct affiliations. Our capacity to reinterpret such burial complexes is a tribute to the records made by the pioneer excavators.

Résumé

Deux cents ans après les fouilles des tumulus de l’âge du bronze de Normanton Down, Wiltshire, effectuées par William Cunnington et Sir Richard Colt Hoare, nous offrons une nouvelle évaluation de ce cimetière renommé, qui se trouve en vue de Stonehenge. Cette communication se concentre spécifiquement sur les dépôts funéraires de l’âge du bronze ancien période 3, dont l’interprétation est qu’ils représentent une succession dynastique laquelle, pendant un certain temps, contrôla l’accès à Stonehenge et présida les cérémonies qui y avaient lieu. Parmi ces dépôts, les découvertes faites dans l’ensemble de sépultures du tumulus de Bush Barrow, qui se trouvent actuellement au Wiltshire Heritage Museum, Devizes, sont prééminentes et encore sans parallèle proche. Des idées de longue date, selon lesquelles le squelette aurait été inhumé en position allongée, sont écartées; à la place, l’ensemble funéraire est reconstruit autour du rite funéraire de l’inhumation en position contractée, qui était universel à l’époque, suscitant d’importantes nouvelles implications. On s’occupe tout particulièrement de deux sépultures féminines probables à proximité; essentiellement contemporaines, leur mobilier funéraire fait contraste à de nombreux égards, indiquant des affiliations très nettes. Notre capacité pour réinterpréter de tels complexes funéraires est due en grande partie aux notes rédigées par ces précurseurs des fouilles.

Zusammenfassung

Zweihundert Jahre nach den Ausgrabungen der Hügelgräber aus der Bronzezeit in der Normanton Down, Grafschaft Wiltshire, die von William Cunnington und Sir Richard Colt Hoare durchgeführt wurden, präsentieren wir eine neue Bewertung dieses berühmten Gräberfeldes, das sich in Sichtweite von Stonehenge befindet. Dieser Bericht konzentriert sich insbesondere auf Grabbeilagen der 3. Periode der Frühen Bronzezeit, die von einer dynastischen Erbfolge gekennzeichnet war, die für eine Weile den Zugang nach Stonehenge kontrollierte und über die dortigen Zeremonien waltete. Besonders hervorstechend sind die Funde aus der Bush Barrow Gräbergruppe, die jetzt im Wiltshire Heritage Museum ausgestellt sind und immer noch ohne gleichen sind. Die lang-gehegte Auffassung daß dieses Skelett ausgestreckt begraben war wurde widerlegt; stattdessen wurden die Grabbeilagen um die, in dieser Periode allgemein üblichen Höckerbestattung, rekonstruktuiert, was wiederum neue Schlussfolgerungen nach sich zieht. Besondere Beachtung wird auch zweien, sich in der Nähe befindlichen, Frauengräbern gegeben; im wesentlichen zeitlich parallel, sind deren Beigaben in vieler Hinsicht verschieden, was auf eine deutlich andere Zugehörigkeit folgern lässt. Unsere Fähigkeit solche Bestattungsanlagen zu neu zu interpretieren ist ein Tribut für die Aufzeichnungen, die von den frühen Pionierausgräbern gemacht wurden.

Copyright
References
Hide All
Unpublished a. ‘A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down Survey II’, Bradford, GSB Report 92/82, Area 11
Unpublished b. ‘English Heritage Fieldwalking Survey at Stonehenge and Avebury WHS’, Salisbury, Wessex Archaeology Ref 52535.505
Abercromby J 1912. A Study of the Bronze Age Pottery of Great Britain and Ireland and its Associated Grave Goods, Oxford: Clarendon Press
Allen M 1997. ‘Environment and land-use: the economic development of the communities who built Stonehenge (an economy to support the stones)’, in Cunliffe and Renfrew (eds) 1997, 115–44
Annable F K Simpson D D A 1964. Guide Catalogue of the Neolithic and Bronze Age Collections in Devizes Museum, Devizes: Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society
ApSimon A 1954. ‘Dagger graves in the “Wessex” Bronze Age’, Inst Archaeol, Univ London Annu Rep, 10, 3761
Ashbee P 1960. The Bronze Age Round Barrow in Britain, London: Phoenix
Ashbee P 1967. ‘The Wessex grave’, in A Corney, ‘A prehistoric and Anglo-Saxon burial ground, Ports Down, Portsmouth’, Proc Hampshire Field Club Archaeol Soc, 24, 2041
Ashbee P 1975/6. Amesbury barrow 51: excavation 1960, Wiltshire Archaeol Natur Hist Mag, 70/71, 160
Ashbee P 1979/80. ‘Amesbury barrow 39: excavations 1960’, Wiltshire Archaeol Natur Histage Mag, 74/75, 334
Ashbee P, Bell M Proudfoot E 1989. Wilsford Shaft: excavations 1960–62, Engl Heritage Archaeol Rep 11, London: English Heritage
Atkinson R J C 1984. ‘Barrows excavated by William Stukeley near Stonehenge, 1723–4’, Wiltshire Archaeol Natur Hist Mag, 79, 244246
Barclay A Halpin C 1999. Excavations at Barrow Hills, Radley, Oxfordshire. Vol I: the Neolithic and Bronze Age monument complex, Thames Valley Landscapes 11, Oxford: Oxford University Committee for Archaeology
Bateman T 1848. Vestiges of the Antiquities of Derbyshire, London: Smith
Bateman T 1861. Ten Years’ Diggings in Celtic & Saxon Grave Hills, in the Counties of Derby, Stafford, and York, from 1848 to 1858, London: George Allen & Sons
Bayliss A, Bronk Ramsey C McCormac F G 1997. ‘Dating Stonehenge’, in Cunliffe and Renfrew (eds) 1997, 39–59
Britton D 1963. ‘Traditions of metal-working in the later Neolithic and Early Bronze Age of Britain: part 1’, Proc Prehist Soc, 29, 258325
Burgess C B 1980. The Age of Stonehenge, London: Dent
Butler J J 1979. ‘Rings and ribs: the copper types of the “ingot hoards” of the central European Early Bronze Age’, in The Origins of Metallurgy in Atlantic Europe: proceedings of the fifth Atlantic colloquium (ed M Ryan), 345362, Dublin: Stationery Office
Butterworth C A 1992. ‘Excavations at Norton Bavant Borrow Pit, Wiltshire, 1987’, Wiltshire Archaeol Natur Hist Mag, 85, 126
Case H (with contributions by P Robinson and A Hopper-Bishop) 2003. ‘Beaker presence at Wilsford 7’, Wiltshire Archaeol Natur Hist Mag, 96, 161194
Clarke D L 1970. Beaker Pottery of Britain and Ireland, 2 vols, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Cleal R M J Allen M J 1994. ‘Investigations of tree-damaged barrows on King Barrow Ridge and Luxenborough Plantation, Amesbury’, Wiltshire Archaeol Natur Hist Mag, 87, 5488
Cleal R M J, Walker K E Montague R 1995. Stonehenge in its Landscape: twentieth-century excavations, Engl Heritage Archaeol Rep 10, London: English Heritage
Corfield M in press. ‘The decoration of Bronze Age dagger handles with gold studs’, in Of Things Gone but not Forgotten: essays in archaeology for Joan Taylor (ed J Trigg), Oxford: Archaeopress
Cunliffe B Renfrew C (eds) 1997. Science and Stonehenge, Proc Brit Acad 92, Oxford: Oxford University Press
Cunnington R H 1975. From Antiquary to Archaeologist: a biography of William Cunnington, 1754–1810, Princes Risborough: Shire
Darvill T 2006. Stonehenge: the biography of a landscape, Stroud: Tempus
Darvill T Wainwright G 2009. ‘Stonehenge excavations 2008’, Antiq J, 89, 119
Drew C D Piggott S 1936. ‘Two Bronze Age barrows, excavated by Mr Edward Cunnington’, Proc Dorset Natur Hist Archaeol Soc, 58, 1825
Evans J 1897. The Ancient Stone Implements, Weapons and Ornaments, of Great Britain, 2nd edn, London: Longmans, Green & Co
Evans J, Chenery C A Fitzpatrick A P 2006. ‘Bronze Age childhood migration of individuals near Stonehenge, revealed by strontium and oxygen isotope tooth enamel analysis’, Archaeometry, 48, 309321
Exon S, Gaffney V, Woodward A Yorston R 2000. Stonehenge Landscapes: journeys through real and imagined worlds, Oxford: Archaeopress
Field E V 1961. ‘Normanton Down’, Wiltshire Archaeol Natur Hist Mag, 58, 30
Fleming A 1971. ‘Territorial patterns in Bronze Age Wessex’, Proc Prehist Soc, 37 (1), 138166
Garwood P 1991. ‘Ritual tradition and the reconstitution of society’, in Sacred and Profane: proceedings of a conference on archaeology, ritual and religion, Oxford 1989 (eds P Garwood, D Jennings, D Skeates and J Toms), 1032, Oxford Univ Comm Archaeol Monogr 32, Oxford: Oxbow
Garwood P 2007. ‘ “Before the hills in order stood”: chronology, time and history in the interpretation of Early Bronze Age round barrows’, in Beyond the Grave: new perspectives on barrows (ed J Last), 3052, Oxford: Oxbow
Gerloff S 1975. The Early Bronze Age Daggers in Great Britain, and a Reconsideration of the Wessex Culture, Prähistorische Bronzefunde vi, 2, Munich: Beck
Green C Rollo-Smith S 1984. ‘The excavation of eighteen round barrows near Shrewton, Wiltshire’, Proc Prehist Soc, 50, 255318
Greenwell W Rolleston G 1877. British Barrows: a record of the examination of sepulchral mounds in various parts of England, Oxford: Clarendon Press
Grimes W F 1964. ‘Excavations in the Lake Group of barrows, Wilsford, Wiltshire, in 1959’, Bull London Inst Archaeol, 4, 89121
Grinsell L V 1957. ‘Archaeological Gazetteer’, in A History of Wiltshire. Volume 1, Part 1 (eds R B Pugh and E Crittall), 21279, VCH, Oxford: Oxford University Press
Grinsell L V 1959. Dorset Barrows, Dorchester: Dorset Natural History and Archaeology Society
Grinsell L V nd [1978]. The Stonehenge Barrow Groups, Salisbury: Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum
Harding A F 1990. ‘The Wessex connection: developments and perspectives’, in Orientalisch-Agäische Einflüsse in der Europäischen Bronzezeit: Ergebnisse eines Kolloquiums (ed T Bader), 139154, Monogr 15, Bonn: Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum
Hoare R C 1812. The Ancient History of South Wiltshire, London: William Miller
Hoare R C 1819. The Ancient History of North Wiltshire, London: William Miller
Kinnes I A, Longworth I A, McIntyre I M, Needham S P Oddy W A 1988. ‘Bush Barrow gold’, Antiquity, 62, 2439
Kirwan R 1872. ‘Notes on the pre-historic archaeology of East Devon’, Archaeol J, 29, 151165
Last J (ed) 2007. Beyond the Grave: new perspectives on barrows, Oxford: Oxbow
Lawson A J 1986. ‘The excavation of a round barrow at Little Cressingham, 1977’, in Barrow Excavations in Norfolk 1950–82 (A J Lawson), E Anglian Archaeol Rep 29, 519, Gressenhall: Norfolk Archaeological Unit
Lawson A J 2007. Chalkland: an archaeology of Stonehenge and its region, Salisbury: Hobnob Press
Leivers M Moore C 2008. Archaeology on the A303 Stonehenge Improvement, Salisbury: Wessex Archaeology
Longworth I H 1971. ‘The Neolithic pottery’, in Durrington Walls: Excavations 1966–1968 (G J Wainwright and I H Longworth), Rep Res Comm Soc Antiq London 29, 48155, London: Society of Antiquaries
Longworth I H 1979. ‘The Neolithic and Bronze Age pottery’, in Mount Pleasant, Dorset: Excavations 1970–1971 (ed G J Wainwright), Rep Res Comm Soc Antiq London 37, 74124, London: Society of Antiquaries
Longworth I H 1983. ‘The Whinny Liggate perforated wall cup and its affinities’, in From the Stone Age to the ’Forty-Five: studies presented to R B K Stevenson (eds A O’Connor and D V Clarke), 6586, Edinburgh: John Donald
Lynch F 1991. Prehistoric Anglesey, 2nd edn, Llangefni: Anglesey Antiquarian Society
Megaw J V S Simpson D D A 1979. Introduction to British Prehistory, Leicester: Leicester University Press
Mizoguchi K 1992. ‘A historiography of a linear barrow cemetery: a structurationist’s point of view’, Archaeol Rev Cambridge, 11 (1), 3949
Mortimer J R 1905. Forty Years’ Researches in British and Saxon Burial Mounds of East Yorkshire, London: Brown & Sons
Needham S 2000. ‘Power pulses across a cultural divide: cosmologically driven exchange between Armorica and Wessex’, Proc Prehist Soc, 66, 151207
Needham S 2007. ‘The dagger blade and hilt furnishings from Site D (Ferry Fryston), burial 2245’, in F Brown, C Howard-Davis, M Brennand, A Boyle, T Evans, S O’Connor, A Spence, R Heawood and A Lupton, The Archaeology of the A1 (M) Darrington to Dishforth DBFO Road Scheme, Lancaster Imprints 12, 279289, Lancaster: Oxford Archaeology North
Needham S 2008. ‘Exchange, object biographies and the shaping of identities, 10000–1000 BC’, in Prehistoric Britain (ed J Pollard), Blackwell Stud Global Archaeol, 310329, Oxford: Blackwell
Needham S P, Lawson A J Green H S 1985. Early Bronze Age Hoards, Brit Bronze Age Metalwork, Ass Finds Ser A1–6, London: British Museum Publications
Needham S, Lawson A Woodward A 2009. ‘Rethinking Bush Barrow’, Brit Archaeol, Jan/Feb 2009, 1317
Needham S, Parfitt K Varndell G (eds) 2006. The Ringlemere Cup: precious cups and the beginning of the Channel Bronze Age, Brit Mus Res Pub 163, London: British Museum Press
Needham S Woodward A 2008. ‘The Clandon Barrow finery: a synopsis of success in an Early Bronze Age world’, Proc Prehist Soc, 74, 152
Needham S, Parker Pearson M, Tyler A, Richards M Jay M 2010. ‘A first “Wessex 1” date from Wessex’, Antiquity, 84, 363373
Needham S, Woodward A Lawson A in preparation. ‘Changing patterns in Early Bronze Age burials south of Stonehenge’
Olivier A C H 1987. ‘Excavations of a Bronze Age funerary cairn at Manor Farm, near Borwick, North Lancashire’, Proc Prehist Soc, 53, 129186
Ó Ríordáin B Waddell J 1993. The Funerary Bowls and Vases of the Irish Bronze Age, Galway: Galway University Press
Parker Pearson M Ramilisonina 1998. ‘Stonehenge for the ancestors: the stones pass on the message’, Antiquity, 72, 308326
Parker Pearson M, Cleal R, Marshall P, Needham S, Pollard J, Richards C, Ruggles C, Sheridan A, Thomas J, Tilley C, Welham K, Chamberlain A, Chenery C, Evans J, Knüssel C, Linford N, Martin L, Montgomery J, Payne A Richards M 2007. ‘The age of Stonehenge’, Antiquity, 81, 617639
Piggott S 1938. ‘The Early Bronze Age in Wessex’, Proc Prehist Soc, 4, 52106
Piggott S 1973. ‘The Wessex Culture of the Early Bronze Age’, in A History of Wiltshire. Volume 1: Part 2 (ed E Crittall), 352375, VCH, Oxford: Oxford University Press
RCHME 1979. Stonehenge and its Environs, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press
Roe F E S 1966. ‘The battle-axe series in Britain’, Proc Prehist Soc, 32, 199245
Roe F 1979. ‘Typology of stone implements with shaftholes’, in Stone Axe Studies: archaeological, petrological, experimental and ethnographic (eds T H McK Clough and W A Cummins), CBA Res Rep 23, 2348, London: Council for British Archaeology
Schmidt P K Burgess C B 1981. The Axes of Scotland and Northern England, Prähistorische Bronzefunde ix, 7, Munich: Beck
Shepherd I A G 2009. ‘The V-bored buttons of Great Britain and Ireland’, Proc Prehist Soc, 75, 335369
Sheridan A 2007. ‘Appendix 3: the bone belt hook from Bargrennan pit 2’, in V Cummings and C Fowler, From Cairn to Cemetery: an archaeological investigation of the chambered cairns and Early Bronze Age mortuary deposits at Cairnderry and Bargrennan White Cairn, south-west Scotland, BAR Brit Ser 434, 112124, Oxford: Archaeopress
Sheridan A Davis M 1998. ‘The Welsh “jet-set” in prehistory’, in Prehistoric Ritual and Religion (eds A Gibson and D Simpson), 148162, Stroud: Sutton
Sheridan A Shortland A 2004. ‘ “Beads which have given rise to so much dogmatism, controversy and rash speculation”: faience in Early Bronze Age Britain and Ireland’, in Scotland in Ancient Europe: the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age of Scotland in their European context (eds I A Shepherd and G J Barclay), 263279, Edinburgh: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
Smith I F 1991. ‘Round barrows Wilsford cum Lake G51–G54: excavations by Ernest Greenfield in 1958’, Wiltshire Archaeol Natur Hist Mag, 84, 1139
Smith M A 1956. Inventaria Archaeologica: an illustrated card-inventory of important associated finds in archaeology, Great Britain. 3rd Set: GB.14–18 grave-groups and hoards of the British Bronze Age, London: Garraway
Stukeley W 1740. Stonehenge, a Temple Restor’d to the British Druids, London: Innys & Manby
Taylor J J 1980. Bronze Age Goldwork of the British Isles, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Thom A S, Ker J M D Burrows T R 1988. ‘The Bush Barrow gold lozenge: is it a solar and lunar calendar for Stonehenge?’, Antiquity, 62, 492502
Thurnam J 1871. ‘On ancient British barrows, especially those of Wiltshire and the adjoining counties (Part II, round barrows)’, Archaeologia, 43, 285552
Vatcher F de M 1961. ‘The excavation of the long mortuary enclosure on Normanton Down, Wilts’, Proc Prehist Soc, 37, 160173
Van de Noort R 2006. ‘Argonauts of the North Sea – a social maritime archaeology for the 2nd millennium BC’, Proc Prehist Soc, 72, 267287
Woodward A 2000. British Barrows: a matter of life and death, Stroud: Tempus
Woodward A 2002. ‘Beads and Beakers: heirlooms and relics in the British Early Bronze Age’, Antiquity, 76, 10401047
Woodward A et al in preparation. Ritual in Early Bronze Age Grave Goods
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Antiquaries Journal
  • ISSN: 0003-5815
  • EISSN: 1758-5309
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquaries-journal
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×
Type Description Title
WORD
Supplementary Materials

Needham supplementary material
Appendix.doc

 Word (95 KB)
95 KB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 16
Total number of PDF views: 136 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 491 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 22nd November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.