Archaeologists looking at aerial photography found a hidden long barrow, or Neolithic burial chamber, hidden beneath a wheat field Credit: Archaeological Field School, University of Reading

Neolithic Burial Mound Uncovered Near Stonehenge

(Read the article on one page)

A Neolithic burial mound near Stonehenge that experts refer to as the “House of the Dead” has been discovered in Wiltshire, England. According to archaeologists, the newly found tumulus in the Vale of Pewsey could possibly contain human remains that are more than 5,000 years old.

“House of the Dead” Discovered

A team of students and staff from the University of Reading’s Archaeology Field School, with the help of volunteers from the area, has examined the site of a Neolithic long tumulus in a location known as Cat’s Brain – the first to be fully explored in Wiltshire in more than fifty years. The Cat’s Brain long tumulus, discovered in the heart of a farmer’s field halfway between the legendary prehistoric monuments of Avebury and Stonehenge, consists of two trenches edging what seems to be a central building. Researchers speculated that this could have possibly been covered with a rounded mass created naturally by the earth dug from the ditches, but has been cultivated flat over the centuries. The monument that researchers have referred to as the “House of the Dead” dates to the early Neolithic period and is the first barrow to be fully examined in Wiltshire since the 1960s.

Possible Neolithic burial site in a wheat field near Stonehenge, UK. (Screenshot Credit: Andy Burns)

Possible Neolithic burial site in a wheat field near Stonehenge, UK. (Screenshot Credit: Andy Burns)

The research team believes that this memorial could possibly contain human remains – hence the nickname “House of the Dead – which were buried there around 3,600 BC. The memorial was first noticed by aerial photos of the location and followed up by geophysical survey imagery.

Dr. Jim Leary, Director of the Archaeology Field School, said as Heritage Daily reports , “Opportunities to fully investigate long barrows are virtually unknown in recent times, and this represents a fantastic chance to carefully excavate one using the very latest techniques and technology. Members of the public now have the chance to visit us and see prehistory being unearthed as we search for human remains on the site. Discovering the buried remains of what could be the ancestors of those who lived around Stonehenge would be the cherry on the cake of an amazing project.”

British Long Barrows

Long barrow style burial mounds are found throughout the British Isles, with a high concentration being found in the Cotswolds, a hill range which rolls gently through the picturesque countryside of 5 counties in central England, including Wiltshire. The need for long barrow style burial sites was explained in an Ancient Origins article when a similar site was excavated near Cirencester last year.

According to Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum:

“Faced with the problem of disposing of the remains of their dead, many Neolithic communities chose to inter the bodies (or sometimes the cremated remains) in chambered tombs constructed inside distinctively shaped stone and soil mounds. These burial chambers and the access passages to them from outside were built of large slabs of stone (orthostats) and dry-stone walling. The covering mound was usually pear-shaped or roughly trapezoidal, often with a shallow ‘horned’ forecourt at one end, the whole surrounded by a low dry-stone wall. It has been estimated that each barrow could have taken 10 men some 7 months to build.”

Entrance to the West Kennet Long Barrow, in the same region as the new excavation in Wiltshire.

Entrance to the West Kennet Long Barrow, in the same region as the new excavation in Wiltshire. ( CC BY SA 3.0 )

 Long barrows were the earliest examples of monumental architecture to be found in Britain, some dating back six millennia, although the one being explored at Cat’s Brain is thought to be around 5,000 years old, the same age as Stonehenge. Previous such monuments have been found to contain as many as 50 men, women and children. For example, the West Kennet long barrow nearby the latest excavation, contained 46 persons from babies to the elderly.

An interesting development in the county occurred in 2014 when a newly constructed long barrow was opened to be used as a tomb for modern use. It has the capacity to hold 1000 urns of cremated remains.

The modern, functioning long barrow at All Cannings in Wiltshire started its use in 2014

The modern, functioning long barrow at All Cannings in Wiltshire started its use in 2014 ( CC BY SA 4.0 )

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Myths & Legends

A vase-scene from about 410 BC. Nimrod/Herakles, wearing his fearsome lion skin headdress, spins Noah/Nereus around and looks him straight in the eye. Noah gets the message and grimaces, grasping his scepter, a symbol of his rule - soon to be displaced in the post-Flood world by Nimrod/Herakles, whose visage reveals a stern smirk.
The Book of Genesis describes human history. Ancient Greek religious art depicts human history. While their viewpoints are opposite, the recounted events and characters match each other in convincing detail. This brief article focuses on how Greek religious art portrayed Noah, and how it portrayed Nimrod in his successful rebellion against Noah’s authority.

Human Origins

Cro-Magnon man communicating with each other and producing cave drawings
How human language began has been a question pestering researchers for centuries. One of the biggest issues with this topic is that empirical evidence is still lacking despite our great advances in...

Ancient Technology

The School of Athens
Much of modern science was known in ancient times. Robots and computers were a reality long before the 1940´s. The early Bronze Age inhabitants of the Levant used computers in stone, the Greeks in the 2nd century BC invented an analogue computer known as the Antikythera mechanism. An ancient Hindu book gives detailed instructions for the construction of an aircraft –ages before the Wright brothers. Where did such knowledge come from?

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article