Raising the Ground, Building a Mound: Bronze Age ‘Barrowscapes’ in Southern Britain

Author(s): Catriona Gibson

Year: 2017


The prehistoric record of Britain is punctuated by episodes of monumental building, with the Early Neolithic and the Early Bronze Age being particular cases in point. Yet the Neolithic megalithic monuments and long barrows are quite different forms of funerary and ritual architecture compared to the succeeding Bronze Age barrow traditions. The former could be continuously accessed and activated until their final blocking. On the other hand, once a mound was erected over a Bronze Age grave, that burial was effectively covered, closed off and hidden from view. This paper will consider the various factors that led to the emergence and seemingly sudden explosion of ‘barrowscapes’ throughout southern Britain. It will trace their nascent origins in the preceding Beaker period, and explore the socio-ideological and ritual developments bound up with such transformations. I will argue that the motivators behind mound building were not only related to increasing monumentality, visibility and landscape-marking concerns, but that other dynamics were also involved in their creation and subsequent elaboration. These include the changing attitudes to death, mortuary rituals and the potential roles ancestors played. I will draw upon case-studies from recent excavations on the classic Wessex chalklands to illustrate this.

Cite this Record

Raising the Ground, Building a Mound: Bronze Age ‘Barrowscapes’ in Southern Britain. Catriona Gibson. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429669)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16739