Bush BarrowThis very large bowl barrow in the Normanton Down barrow group, less than half a mile south of Stonehenge, measures over 36m in diameter and stands today 3m high. It was excavated in September 1808 by William Cunnington. Sir Richard Colt Hoare of Stourhead House financed the excavation and later published the results in his book 'Ancient Wiltshire'. Bush Barrow is the richest and most significant example of a Bronze Age burial not only in the Normanton Group or in association with Stonehenge, but arguably in the whole of Britain.
The primary burial was of an adult male, buried lying on his left side, in the crouched position. The grave goods placed with him show that this was a princely burial from about 1900 -1700 BC.
In the grave had been placed prestigious weapons including an axe and the two largest daggers to have been found in a grave of this date. One had a wooden handle elaborately decorated with fine gold-wire pins, and came from Britanny. By the right side of the body was a mace, the head made from a rare flecked fossil stone from Devon, while the handle was embellished with bone zig zag mounts. Three other exquisitely worked sheet gold objects were also found – a large diamond shaped lozenge resting on the man’s chest and a large belt-hook lying by his waist, both decorated with delicate impressed linear lines, as well as another small diamond shaped lozenge, which may have been mounted on the handle of the mace.
A number of rivets and fragments of bronze found near the skeleton have recently been identified by experts as being from a knife-dagger dating to some 200 years earlier than the rest of the objects found in the grave. This dagger may have belonged to an ancestor who may have been involved in the construction of the enormous sarsen stone circle and horseshoe of trilithons at Stonehenge.
The two adjacent barrows in the group also included prestigious objects and may have been the graves of members of the same family.
For further details and pictures on ‘Bush Barrow’ (Wilsford G5) click here.