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Belas Knap long barrow

Home Neolithic long barrow Cotswold Way, Winchcombe GL54 5AL Website: Belas Knap and Long Barrow
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Biographical Info

From Corndean Lane follow the Cotswold Way  uphill for approximately 1 mile to Belas Knap.

Belas Knap is a Neolithic chambered long barrow situated just below the crest of a prominent ridge (Humblebee How) with panoramic views over the surrounding countryside. It is a type of monument known as a Cotswold Severn Cairn. The long barrow consists of a mound trapezoidal in plan and orientated north-south. It is about 55 metres in length, roughly 20 metres at its widest and between three and four metres tall. Excavation indicated that it was originally longer, wider and taller then current dimensions. At the northern end of the mound is a forecourt, flanked by two projections of mound roughly in the shape of a funnel. This is fronted by a ‘false entrance’ consisting of two standing stones and a lintel stone. This is thought to have been constructed in association with the forecourt to give the visual effect of an entrance. Four burial chambers are located within the mound, two on the east side, one at the southern end and another on the west side of the barrow. The chambers were originally roofed with slabs of limestone (since replaced with concrete embedded with stone on the under-side) and defined by dry-stone walling. Each had their own separate entrance from the side of the mound. Belas Knap owes much of its present character to a programme of restoration carried out by the Ministry of Works between 1929 and 1931. Prior to this the site was excavated in a series of excavations from 1863 and again in 1928. Under the lintel stone of the ‘false entrance’ were the remains of five infants and an unusual round-headed adult, a type not normally found in Gloucestershire burials prior to 2200 BC. However dating of the Belas Knap human remains in 2000, placed them all between 4000 and 3700 BC. The south-eastern chamber contained two male and two female skeletons, animal bones and flint artefacts. The north-eastern chamber contained 12 inhumations; the western chamber contained 14 inhumations and the southern chamber a single inhumation.

 

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