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Historic England Research Records

Stoney Littleton Long Barrow

Hob Uid: 203075
Location :
Bath And North East Somerset
Bath And North East Somerset
Wellow
Grid Ref : ST7350057200
Summary : Stoney Littleton long barrow, also known as the Bath Tumulus and the Wellow Tumulus, is a Neolithic chambered long barrow of the Cotswold Severn group. It is situated on a limestone outcrop overlooking the valley of the Wellow Brook to the north and west. The mound is oriented north west - south east, is trapezoidal in plan and measures about 30 metres long, 12.5 metres wide at its widest point and 2 metres in height, it is believed to have once been much higher. The barrow mound is composed of small stones and is surrounded by a restored dry stone wall. At the south eastern end is a recessed forecourt flanked by dry stone walling which extends to the entrance. The entrance comprises of a lintel supported by two jambs and leads to the internal chamber. The western door jamb includes an ammonite cast one foot or 0.3 metres in diameter. The internal chamber includes a transepted gallery grave with three pairs of side chambers and an end chamber. The gallery extends for about 13 metres and varies in height from 1.2 metres to 1.8 metres. The mound is flanked on each side by a now infilled quarry ditch about 3 metres wide from which material was taken to construct the barrow. In 1816, an excavation by John Skinner uncovered human bones within the chamber some of which are held at the City Museum, Bristol. A geological survey of the barrow has shown that it was partly constructed of Blue Lias slabs and Forest Marble dry walling. The mound was restored by T. R. Joliffe in 1858. Further work was carried out on the site by the Ministry of Works in 1938. A survey was undertaken in 1989, a trench dug in 1995 and further survey, conservation and excavation work carried out between 1999 and 2000, revealing a possible undated boundary or element of forecourt structure comprised of a line of pits extending from the wastern corner of the barrow. The site is in the care of English Heritage.
More information : [ST 73505720] Long Barrow [NR]. (1)

This is the Stoney Littleton Long Barrow, also referred to as the
Wellow, or Bath, tumulus. It is a chambered barrow (Severn-Cotswold Group), of Daniel's transeptal - gallery grave type, with three side chambers (see plan (3))

The mound, which is 107 ft. x 54 ft., is orientated S.E. - N.W. Various authorities (Colt Hoare, VCH, Dobson.) give the alignment S.W. - N.E: it is correctly shown on the O.S. sheet. Skinner excavated the barrow in 1816: it was restored by Joliffe in 1858 (2).

Scheduled. (2-4)

As described, and in the care of the M.P.B.W.
Surveyed at 1/2500. (5)

Full description, see illustration card. (6)

A geological survey of the barrow shows it to have been constructed from Blue Lias slabs and Forest Marble dry walling.
The nearest outcrop of Blue Lias is at Newton St Loe (ST 7064)
and the Forest Marble limestones outcrop on the ridge SE of the barrow, where they have been quarried around Faulkland (ST 7354) in historical times. (7)

Additional reference (8)

Field report (9)

Guardianship No 575 (10)

Stoney Littleton Long barrow: The finest and best preserved in Somerset. 107ft long and 13ft high. Was formerly much higher. (11)

ST 73495720. Neolithic Severn-Cotswold chambered long barrow known as the Stoney Littleton long barrow, the Bath Tumulus and the Wellow Tumulus. It is oriented north west-south east, with a recessed forecourt at the wider south east end. The barrow mound is composed of small stones and is surrounded by a restored drystone wall. Within the barrow are three pairs of side chambers and an end chamber. Human bones were recovered from within the chambers during excavations carried out by Skinner in 1816. The mound was restored by Joliffe in 1858. Scheduled. (13)

Stoney Littleton long barrow is a Neolithic chambered long barrow of the Cotswold Severn group. It is situated on a limestone outcrop overlooking the valley of the Wellow Brook to the north and west. The long mound is oriented north west - south east, is trapezoidal in plan and measures about 30 metres long, 12.5 metres wide (at its widest point) and 2 metres in height, though it is believed to have once been much higher. The entrance comprises of a lintel supported by two jambs and leads to the internal chamber. The internal chamber includes a transepted gallery grave with three pairs of side chambers and an end chamber. The gallery extends for about 13 metres and varies in height from 1.2 metres to 1.8 metres. The mound is flanked on each side by a now infilled quarry ditch about 3 metres wide from which material was taken to construct the barrow. (9)

The barrow is of the 'true entrance' type, comprising entrance leading via a vestibule to a gallery with pairs of side chambers (known technically as a transepted gallery grave). It is the only known surviving example with three pairs of side chambers, and there is also an end chamber aligned with the gallery. The left (western) door jamb of the entrance is of particular interest for its fine ammonite cast, 1 ft (0.3m) in diameter: among the most striking illustrations of neolithic man's interest in fossils and other geological phenomena. On the left (west) wall of the vestibule is a tablet bearing an inscription:

THIS TUMULUS, -DECLARED BY COMPETENT JUDGES TO BE THE MOST PERFECT SPECIMEN OF CELTIC ANTIQUITY STILL EXISTING IN GREAT BRITAIN HAVING BEEN MUCH INJURED BY THE LAPSE OF TIME, - OR THE CARELESSNESS OF FORMER PROPRIETORS, WAS RESTORED IN 1858 BY MR T. R. JOLIFFE, THE LORD OF THE HUNDRED; THE DESIGN OF THE ORIGINAL STRUCTURE BEING PRESERVED, AS FAR AS POSSIBLE, WITH SCRUPULOUS - EXACTNESS.

The first recorded opening was in about 1760 when the farmer occupier forced an entry into the gallery through the roof to obtain stone for road mending. It was archaeologically explored on 24-25 May 1816 by Reverend John Skinner of Camerton and his brother Russell, Sir Richard Colt Hoare, and his steward and surveyor Philip Crocker, assisted by a labourer named Zebedee Weston. After gaining entry through the hole made c1760, they cleared quantities of 'rubbish' from the interior, but it is uncertain whether this comprised deliberate filling after the tomb had ceased to fulfil its original purpose, or a normal accumulation through the lapse of time. The recorded finds comprise:
- leg and thigh bones and smaller fragments.
- From the west innermost side-chamber: confused heaps of bones.
- From the east innermost side-chamber. four jawbones, the teeth perfect; upper parts of two long crania (middle-aged male and elderly female), both unusually flat in the forehead; leg, thigh and arm bones and vertebrae.
- From the west central side-chamber: fragments of earthen vessel with burnt bones (some of the latter were recovered by Dr Arthur Bulleid c1917); bones of two or three skeletons.

An account of this excavation was printed in volume XIX of the Archaeologia.
The Report of the Ninth Annual Meeting of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society, presented on 4 August 1857, states that by a pecuniary grant the Society was instrumental in that year in carrying out timely preservation of the monument. It is uncertain whether this covered the whole of the work done (in which case Joliffe's inscription overstates his part and gives the date in error as 1858), or whether the restoration claimed by Joliffe to have been done in 1858 was something additional.
The two crania from the east innermost side chamber are on display in the City Museum, Bristol, together with a model of the barrow. (14, 16).

Reports on excavation, watching brief during conservation work and geophysical survey of the area around the barrow carried out by Cotswold Archaeological Trust 1999-2000, on behalf of English Heritage. Aside of examining the inner structure of the barrow by reopening earlier excavation trenches , the programme of investigation identified a row of six pit like features extending out from the eastern corner of the barrow- these may have been a path or boundary of any period, or possibly part of forecourt structures from the Neolithic. The survey picked up a further area of low resistance to the north east side of the barrow- this may have been associated with the construction of the barrow, but a subsequent auger survey suggested it may also be a natural feature, possibly caused by the accumulation of moisture. Finds from the work included Neolithic and intrusive Roman pottery (the latter from the backfill of 18-19th century antiquarian investigations). 61 worked flints were also recovered. A small quantity of human bone was also found, representing partial remains of at least four individuals. (17-18)

Source 19 includes a brief accessible overview of Stoney Littleton Long Barrow for visitors, published in 2004. (19)


Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" Prov. 1961.
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Source Number : 2
Source : The prehistoric chamber tombs of England and Wales
Source details :
Page(s) : 231
Figs. :
Plates : VIII
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 11
Source : North Somerset and Bristol
Source details :
Page(s) : 277
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Source Number : 12
Source : The English Heritage visitors' handbook 1998-99
Source details :
Page(s) : 93
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Source Number : 13
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : 10-Aug-94
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Source Number : 14
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : 2008. BANES Council. http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/BathNES/environmentandplanning/Archaeology/StoneyLittletonGuideBook.htm [Accessed 27-JUN-2008]
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Source Number : 15
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : 2008. BANES Council. The Scheduled Monument Record. http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/BathNES/environmentandplanning/Archaeology/StoneyLittletonSAMRecord.htm [Accessed 27-JUN-2008]
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Source Number : 16
Source : Stoney Littleton long barrow, Somerset
Source details : L. V. Grinsell . London: Ministry of Public Buildings and Works, Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings. Guide to Stoney Littleton long barrow. Published in the 1960s.
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Source Number : 17
Source : Stoney Littleton Long Barrow, Bath and North East Somerset. Archaeological Investigations and Observations 1999/2000
Source details :
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Source Number : 18
Source : Somerset archaeology and natural history : the proceedings of the Somersetshire Archaeological and Natural History Society
Source details : Article by Alan Thomas: 'Stoney Littleton Long Barrow: archaeological investigations and observations 1999/2000''
Page(s) : Nov-16
Figs. :
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Vol(s) : 146, 2003
Source Number : 19
Source : Heritage Unlocked: Guide to free sites in Devon, Dorset and Somerset
Source details :
Page(s) : 84-85
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Source Number : 3
Source : The Neolithic cultures of the British Isles : a study of the stone-using agricultural communities of Britain in the second millennium B.C.
Source details :
Page(s) : 134-5
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Source Number : 4
Source : Ancient monuments in England and Wales : list prepared by the Ministry of Works, corrected to 31st December 1952
Source details :
Page(s) : 67
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Source Number : 5
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 JP 30-JUL-64
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Source Number : 6
Source : Ministry of Public Buildings and Works Guide
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Source Number : 7
Source : Antiquity
Source details : (D T Donovan)
Page(s) : 236-7
Figs. :
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Vol(s) : 51, 1977
Source Number : 8
Source : The megalithic chambered tombs of the Cotswold - Severn region: an assessment of certain architectural elements and their relation to ritual practice and Neolithic society
Source details :
Page(s) : 118
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Source Number : 9
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : DOE SAM Form 29th Oct 1986
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Source Number : 10
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : HBMC Guardianship List NS 021
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Neolithic
Display Date : Neolithic in date
Monument End Date : -2200
Monument Start Date : -4000
Monument Type : Chambered Long Barrow, Burial, Ditch, Human Remains
Evidence : Earthwork, Find
Monument Period Name : Uncertain
Display Date : Uncertain
Monument End Date :
Monument Start Date :
Monument Type : Pit Alignment, Boundary
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : AV 51
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Avon)
External Cross Reference Number : 1608
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 22855
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : EH Property Number
External Cross Reference Number : 318
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : ST 75 NW 16
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : STONEY LITTLETON LONG BARROW, (WELLOW 1)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1816-01-01
End Date : 1816-12-31
Associated Activities : FIELD OBSERVATION ON ST 75 NW 16
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1964-07-30
End Date : 1964-07-30
Associated Activities : STONY LITTLETON LONG BARROW
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1989-01-01
End Date : 1989-12-31
Associated Activities : STONEY LITTLETON LONG BARROW
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1995-01-01
End Date : 1995-12-31
Associated Activities : STONEY LITTLETON LONG BARROW
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1999-01-01
End Date : 2000-12-31
Associated Activities : STONEY LITTLETON LONG BARROW
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1999-01-01
End Date : 1999-12-31
Associated Activities : STONEY LITTLETON LONG BARROW
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2014-01-01
End Date : 2014-12-31
Associated Activities : STONEY LITTLETON LONG BARROW
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2017-01-01
End Date : 2017-12-31