Ancient, Two Minute Read

Burial Mound, Only one of Three in the Country

SIGNIFICANT. For approximately 4000 years this location has held profound sacred significance and is only one of three in the country. What are we looking at? This is a Bronze Age Bowl barrow – in a churchyard.

At a distance of two feet from the top of the barrow, a discovery of twenty skeletons emerged, laid to rest without coffins.

Bronze Age burial mound in a churchyard
‘modern’ graves in the 4000 year old burial mound

Remarkably preserved, their east-west orientation indicated that these individuals were not ancient Britons but followers of Christianity. Some theories speculate that they might have been victims of the Black Death, which ravaged the country in 1348, or casualties of the Civil War, potentially linked to the siege of Marlborough in 1642.

Read More: Iron Age Trackways That You Can Still Walk Today

Further exploration led to the unearthing of another burial, located five feet below the surface, this time inside a coffin. During the 500 and 600 AD period, numerous mounds served as burial grounds for Anglo-Saxons.

medieval church
The church seems to have a ‘lost’ feel to it

Scholars in academia believe that this particular burial holds great significance, representing an early conversion of a Pagan Anglo-Saxon leader to Christianity. Truly, a captivating moment in history.

Read More: Ancient Trackways: Walking in the Footsteps of Neolithic People

The original purpose of the barrow was discovered seven feet from its apex. The remains of cremated bones, remnants of a funeral pyre from 4000 years ago, were carefully gathered, wrapped in cloth, placed on a wooden plank, and covered by the entire barrow.

sky with trees
Never fallen asleep on top of a burial mound before but the sun was shinning

I sat on top of the barrow, the sun was shinning through the trees, I laid back and fell to sleep. It’s a weird one but it was so peaceful, warm and so special. Felt like I slept for half a day but bet it was only five minutes. I woke up by the sounds of two elderly ladies tending to grave.

Read More: A Graveyard of our Ancestors – 4000 Years Old

Then it struck me, I was time traveling, in the sense that I was witnessing 21st century peoples performing a ritual, that our ancient peoples were doing on the same spot, for the same reason, 4000 years ago. That was a very special moment for me.

Bronze age burial mound and motorbike boots
Nothing new in the world…

One thing that has always fascinated me is how society is really only stones throw away from our ancient ancestors. Our towns, cities and villages tend to be the same places our ancients had their settlements.

Read More: Menhirs Date From the Neolithic, But What are They?

We still used Bronze and Iron Age tracks, and certainly Roman roads. We love and bury our dead and show reverence to them like our Neolithic ancestors did 6000 years ago. We really are so connected.

Bronze Age burial mound in a churchyard
St Andrew’s Church was built around 1140 AD

You can see in the images that there are some 19th century graves on the side of the barrow, again we are doing the same as our Anglo-Saxon ancestors had done. There is nothing new in the world, just old ideas recycled….

medieval church
So peaceful here

The church itself it beautiful, built in the 1100s it is a very early church, again something very peaceful about it. Constructed during the period when the Ogbourne estates were bestowed upon the Abbey of Bec in Normandy by the affluent English noblewoman, Maud of Wallingford.

Read More: The Story of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms

The chancel was added in the early 13th century, while the west tower was later incorporated around 1440. Notably, in 1847-9, the church interior underwent a comprehensive restoration, skillfully overseen by William Butterfield.

Norman church

A tangible link to the original stone church that once stood on this hallowed ground is evident in the form of a Norman capital located in the sanctuary.

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This ancient relic has been repurposed as a double piscina, serving as a lasting reminder of the church’s early architectural heritage. You really do have to make sure you get there one day as it is simply stunning. The location is St Andrew’s Church, Ogbourne St Andrew, Marlborough, Wiltshire, SN8 1SU