Searching for a lost long barrow

On a web page recording memories of Winkton airfield, near Sopley, there is the following reference to the blatant destruction of a barrow to support the war effort:

“Apparently the site of the airfield contained an old burial mound, a barrow, claimed to be the site of the burial of warriors killed in a local battle between the Danes and King Alfred’s forces. The barrow was flattened during the preparation work for the aerodrome and Canon Kirkham expressed some concern at this to the commanding officer of the unit concerned. The officer was apologetic and offered to put it back again !!!”

At that time it was popular to attribute such barrows to the Danes or Saxons, but it is more likely that this barrow was Neolithic in date.  Sue Newman has uncovered further documentary evidence, including the following extract from the Gentleman’s Magazine 1861 describing activities of the Christchurch Archaeological Society:

“A barrow of seventy yards in length, and twenty yards in breadth, in the neighbourhood of Dane-rout, or Danat Lane, in the Clock-field on his property, will be opened by him in the course of the spring.”

The old OS maps of the area show an interesting long thin enclosure, of similar dimensions, in a wooded area called Clockhouse Copse.  This copse was truncated on two sides when Winkton airfield was built, and the area of the enclosure is in the part of the copse that was destroyed.  This can be seen in the maps below.

The trig point within the enclosure is also of interest, as these were usually located on raised ground.  Sue Newman has also discovered that on the tithe map for the area, the field surrounding this enclosure was called ‘Burrow Close’, possibly a derivation of ‘Barrow Close’.

Given this evidence, AVAS recently undertook a joint survey with The Christchurch Antiquarians to see if any trace of the barrow could be found.  Fresh from a Geophysics Processing course run by the LoCATE Project, we took a FM36 gradiometer and a RM15 Resistvity meter to the site, both made available through the LoCATE project.

The magnetometry results were inconclusive, with a high number of spikes probably caused by metal objects left over from the airfield.  However the resistivity results were far more promising, as shown below:

The plot area is 20m x 40m.  The light areas in the plot show high resistance, and roughly correspond with the long thin enclosure.  Could it be that the high resistance area represents the original location of the barrow mound?  It is too early to tell, and we will need to expand the survey area, but the results give perhaps a tantalising hint that the barrow may be located here.

To finish the post, here are a couple of photos of the survey in progress.

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