Ancient Monument Management in the Chalke Valley

by Jonathan Monteith
19th April 2023

In March 2023 we visited the Fifield Bavant barrow, which is a Bronze Age bowl barrow on the south-east facing ridge on Fifield Down. The Down is situated between two dry valleys overlooking the valley of the River Ebble. The Fifield Bavant barrow is thought to be about 6,000 years old. 

This barrow is a Scheduled Ancient Monument was excavated in 1922, and is one of around 395 examples of such features on Cranborne Chase.

Bowl barrows were originally constructed as earthen mounds with surrounding circular ditches, and these burial monuments covered single or multiple burials dating from the Late Neolithic to Late Bronze Age period between 2400-1500BC.

Over the years, barrows are usually levelled by ploughing or become very overgrown with scrub, however they remain important features in the landscape.


Fifield Down Barrow with scrub 2
Fifield Down barrow before clearnace
Fifield Down scrub
Scrub detail on Fifield Down barrow


Fifield Down is a beautiful place, and from here you can enjoy views of Salisbury Cathedral spire in the distance… if you happen to have a clear day and know where to look!

Our task, with our willing volunteers, was to remove the scrub which was encroaching on this ancient monument.

Removing or reducing the amount of scrub on archaeological sites helps us reduce damage to these sites while also maintaining the visibility of earthworks in the landscape.

Plants that make up ‘scrub’ can also have ecological importance to an area, so when scrub clearance is planned the impact on the environment is always considered. In this case, due to the very open position of the barrow site, the scrub here had become the perfect territory for single male corn buntings to perch in the summer months. Considering this, as well as removing the scrub from the barrow with our volunteers, we were able to install a new corn bunting perch nearby to make up for the loss of habitat.

This work was undertaken as part of the Chase & Chalke project ‘Champions of the Past’. If you would like to get involved with practical conservation or archaeological investigation, either email or click here for more information.



Fifield Down volunteers relaxing
Thank you for a job well done!