Survey of a long barrow on Cranborne Chase

We have just completed the report on a small geophysics survey we did of a Neolithic long barrow, Gussage St Michael 10, East Dorset.  It is now a low ploughed out mound situated on the same ridge as a number of other long barrows, as well as the south-west terminal of the Dorset Cursus, an enigmatic Neolithic monument 10km in length.

Location of the Gussage St Michael 10 long barrow. Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0

The barrow had not, to our knowledge, been investigated before.  We obtained some fantastic results using a trusty Geoscan FM36 Gradiometer, supplied as part of the LoCATE project led by Bournemouth University and the New Forest National Park.  In the resultant plot, the irregular U-shaped ditch of the long barrow is clearly defined:

Plot of processed gradiometer results

The U-shape of the ditch is important, as it confirms this is a long barrow of the ‘Cranborne Chase’ type, a form of long barrow which is almost exclusively found in this part of Dorset.  It has a striking similarity with Gussage St Michael 12, another long barrow just over 1km away on the same ridge, excavated in the 1930s, and referenced B in the diagram below:

Comparative plans of Cranborne Chase Type long barrows. A: Gussage St Michael 10, B: Gussage St Michael 12 (after Drew and Piggott 1936, Plate XVI), C: Pentridge 26 crop marks, D: Wor Barrow (after Pitt-Rivers 1898, Plate 249)

The results from the survey can also be draped on a 3D model of the Lidar elevation data to show how the ditches are positioned in relation to the mound:

Although a small survey, it has made a significant contribution by confirming another ‘Cranborne Chase’ type long barrow in what is an important Neolithic landscape.

The full report can be downloaded from this link:  AVAS Geophysics Survey Gussage St Michael 10 Long Barrow v1_0.pdf

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