Mystery of the Bronze Age burial mound

I recently visited a large tumulus, or burial mound, which represents something of a mystery.

The site, at Ashridge Forest, in the Ashridge Estate, in Hertfordshire, features a bowl barrow of such magnitude it is referred to as a bell barrow.

It is accessed via a bridge across an ancient drovers’ pathway, which has bored deep into the earth from thousands of years of human and animal footfall.

The mystery lies in who was interred in such a prestigious mound.

What we do know is the site, known as Moneybury Hill Barrow, dates from the Bronze Age and is close to the prominent Ivinghoe Beacon, which is part of the ancient Ridgeway.

The Ridgeway is a prehistoric pathway from Ivinghoe Beacon going westwards and taking in sites such as Stonehenge, Woodhenge, Wayland’s Smithy and Avebury.

The National Trust, which supervises the site, has erected a sign that has a few details.

It reads: “The raised ground in front of you is part of an area known as Moneybury Hill on Pitstone Common. This mound, thought to be a 4,000 year old Bronze Age burial barrow, is a nationally important Scheduled Monument. It may have been the grave of a prominent local figure or wealthy landowner.”

The site is close to a far more modern column, which commemorates the achievements of Francis, Third Duke of Bridgewater, the so-called ‘Father of Inland Navigation’ and was erected in 1832.

The presence of both structures, thousands of years apart, highlights the undimmed urge to memorialise the people among us who achieve greatness.

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