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The Cursus Barrows, Winterbourne Stoke, New King Barrows
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The Cursus Barrows[/b]

As the name of this group suggests, it lies close to the Cursus, on the crest of a low ridge that runs parallel to its southern bank. This position is quite deliberate: the mounds of the impressive bowl and bell barrows are placed so that they are most prominent and, from Stonehenge, appear silhouetted against the skyline. In 1723 the antiquary William Stukeley investigated some of the barrows in this group, finding cremated human bones and beads of amber and glass that led him to believe he had found the grave of a young woman. In 1803 the barrows were re-examined by Colt Hoare and Cunnington, who found more burials and some fine pottery vessels. The Cursus Barrows lie on National Trust open access land.

The Cursus Barrows, Winterbourne Stoke, New King Barrows

Aerial photograph of the Winterbourne Stoke Crossroads barrow group, with the Neolithic long barrow at the top right.

The Winterbourne Stoke
Crossroads Barrows

The earliest barrow in this group is a Neolithic long barrow, the alignment of which was followed, perhaps more than a thousand years later, by a line of large bowl and bell barrows. Then, over several hundred more years, as burial fashions changed in the earlier part of the Bronze Age (between about 2000 and 1600 BC) other, more elaborate, barrow types were added. There are smaller bowl barrows, disc barrows and saucer barrows, their beautiful but shallow forms best appreciated from the air. There are even examples of rare pond barrows.

Almost all the barrows in this group were excavated in the early XIX century, the most spectacular finds being the remains of two wooden coffins, many decorated pottery vessels and spearheads and daggers of bronze. This spectacular and well-preserved barrow group has a burial history that may span as much as 2000 years and contains every type of round barrow to be found in southern England. The Winterbourne Stoke Crossroads Barrows are partly owned by the National Trust and partly privately owned; they can be seen from a nearby path.

The Cursus Barrows, Winterbourne Stoke, New King Barrows

The Cursus Barrows seen from the air.

The New King Barrows

To the east of Stonehenge, a group of large mounds can be seen among the trees that lie on the crest of the closest ridge. These are the New King Barrows, part of a group (with the Old King Barrows to the north) that meanders along the ridge for a distance of over 1 km (0,6 miles).

The New King barrow group contains some of the largest bowl and bell barrows within the Stonehenge landscape and it is the only group that was not excavated in the XIX century, because even at that time it was protected by a covering of trees. The only clues about the date and structure of the barrows have come from holes torn in the mounds when some of the trees on the ridge were toppled by storms in 1990. These suggested that some of the mounds were of an unusual construction, built largely of turf and capped with chalk from the surrounding ditch.

There is no firm evidence for when the New King Barrows were built, but their sheer size suggests that they may be of an early date for round barrows, perhaps raised between 2300 and 2000 BC. The New King Barrows are visible from a nearby path.

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