Landscape Britain

Belas Knap Long Barrow by munki-boy

Belas Knap Long Barrow

The monument includes a chambered long barrow situated just below the crest of a prominent ridge with panoramic views.

The barrow, known as the Belas Knap long barrow, has a mound trapezoidal in plan, orientated north-south and defined by a dry-stone revetment wall. The mound is 70m from north-south, 26m wide at the northern end, 17m wide at the southern end and has a maximum height of c.3m. At the northern end of the mound there is a forecourt consisting of a recess flanked by two projections of mound. This is fronted by a false entrance consisting of two standing stones and a lintel stone. This entrance was never associated with an internal passage and so could not have provided a physical means of access into the monument. The false entrance is instead likely to have been constructed in association with the forecourt in order to provide the visual effect, of an entrance.

Four burial chambers have been identified within the mound; these are situated in the south-east, north-east, west and southern areas of the monument. The chambers were roofed with slabs of limestone and defined by dry-stone walling; each was approached separately through an entrance situated in the side of the mound. The monument was partially excavated between 1863-65 and again by W J Hemp in 1928. The false entrance was found to cover the remains of six human skeletons including five infants which are thought to represent Early Bronze Age interments. The south-eastern chamber contained the remains of two male and two female human skeletons along with 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. In addition, another six or seven interments were recovered from at least one of the chambers by W Ashton between 1870-90.

The monument was restored by the Ministry of Works between 1929-31. The mound is flanked on each side by a ditch from which material was quarried during the construction of the monument. These have become infilled over the years, but survive as buried features c.5m wide. There is a Bronze Age bowl barrow 80m to the south-west of the long barrow and the two monuments are intervisible. Excluded from the scheduling are all fence posts and gates relating to the field boundaries, although the ground beneath these features is included.

Extract from Record of Scheduled Monuments