Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • We're here at the Nympsfield long barrow. It's situated right on the Cotswold escarpment

  • with impressive views, but in fact it's one of about a hundred such long barrows scattered

  • across this part of the Cotswolds. Now these long barrows were built by early

  • farming communitiesNeolithic groups as we know themaround about 3,800 BC. They

  • were primarily built as burial places and they put in the remains of their community

  • to give them a long term future. But they were also monuments that connected those communities

  • with their landscape. The capstones I'm afraid are missing. They

  • were taken long ago. But we can appreciate the site and we can understand a little bit

  • about it worked how it would have looked in Neolithic times. We've got the entranceway

  • and that provides if you like a little vestibule inside, then we've got these extraordinary

  • stones which constrict the entranceway and by constricting them we create this new space

  • beyond which is essentially the passage leading into the main part of the tomb.

  • It's in this area that the burials were placed. Now, these monuments lasted for about

  • three generations - perhaps 75 or 100 years in total. And over that period they would

  • accumulate about 30 or 40 corpsesburials placed in here. Now they didn't keep them

  • as corpses, they brought them in and as they decayed bits of bone would be moved further

  • and further into the chamber, so that we'd have little piles of skulls, we'd have little

  • piles of long bones, we'd have piles of other body parts. Which means that as you

  • came in here to visit these people you would have quite literally been walking on the bones

  • of the ancestors. We also have to remember that the tomb itself

  • may have symbolic meaning. The shape of the mound may well be the shape of an axe for

  • example. Or perhaps it was the form of a human torso. Perhaps a female torso such that the

  • chamber represented the womb and the dead were being placed back into the womb as if

  • they were going back in the earth and back into the mother.

We're here at the Nympsfield long barrow. It's situated right on the Cotswold escarpment

Subtitles and vocabulary

Click the word to look it up Click the word to find further inforamtion about it