Hampshire Archaeology

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Buried in time – the Early Bronze Age

Walworth Barrows, Andover

Two Bronze Age ‘ring ditches’ or ploughed-out barrows – 2000 – 1000 BC

Aerial view before excavation

Aerial view before excavation

 Two round barrows at Walworth, Andover, were excavated in 1987 in advance of factory building. Both mounds had been flattened by ploughing and only the ditches remained. The barrows were so close that they formed an ‘8’ shape. They were built during the Early Bronze Age and continued to be used until late in the period, by which time the ditches were largely silted up.

Aerial view during excavation

Aerial view during excavation

The burials were concentrated in one of the barrows. A child aged 3-4 years was found in the area of the mound and a series of pits inside the line of the ditch contained the cremated remains of three individuals: an adult, possibly female, a child aged 6-7 years and a child of uncertain age.

walworth pix_0016   walworth pix_0030

Three more burials were made in the ditch after it had partially filled with soil. They were of an adult female in middle age, a young male aged 14-15 years and a child aged 3-4 years. Also deliberately buried in the ditch near to the human graves was an adult cow.  Both barrows yielded finds of Bronze Age pottery and worked flint flakes. One of the ditches contained fragments of a Middle Bronze Age spearhead.

The adult female of middle age, buried in a grave dug through the ditch fill into the chalk bedrock below was laid in a crouched position on her left side with her legs drawn up under her chin. Her right arm was laid across her chest and her left arm beside her head. There were no finds to indicate fastenings for clothing or a shroud, nor were there any beads or other jewellery. No pottery, bone or flint accompanied the body, although it is possible that perishable items were present and have left no trace. There is no indication of the cause of death. From the length of the long bones it is possible to estimate the woman’s height as 5’ 5”. Her arm bones are notably delicate.

She suffered from severe toothache, losing four of her molars, two shortly before she died. Two of the teeth in her upper jaw had been worn down to the roots and there were two abscesses, one on each side of her face. The second and third ribs on her right side were fused together and this may have been a congenital condition, causing stiffness on that side of her body. The skeleton of the young child buried in the ditch nearby displayed similar features, suggesting that they were related.

Walworth Barrows A1987.3

Excavations in progress

Excavations in progress

The full report on the excavations will appear in Hampshire Studies Vol 70 in 2015.

Series by Dave Allen, Sarah Gould, Lesley Johnson, Jane King, with help from Stacie Elliot.

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