Bush Barrow

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Bush Barrow
Misty view of Bush Barrow
Bush Barrow on Normanton Down
Bush Barrow is located in Wiltshire
Bush Barrow
Shown within Wiltshire
Location Normanton Down
grid reference SU11644126
Coordinates 51°10′14″N 1°50′05″W / 51.17051°N 1.834819°W / 51.17051; -1.834819
Type Tumulus
Periods Bronze Age

Bush Barrow is a site of the early British Bronze Age (ca. 2000 BC), at the western end of the Normanton Down Barrows cemetery. It is among the most important sites of the Stonehenge complex. It was excavated in 1808 by William Cunnington for Sir Richard Colt Hoare. The finds, including worked gold objects, are displayed at Wiltshire Museum in Devizes.


Larger gold lozenge with gold belt buckle and a copper dagger, on display at the Wiltshire Museum.
Design of the larger of the Bush Barrow gold lozenges
Hexagon geometry was employed in both lozenge forms. Note the lozenges are not to relative scale. After Johnson 2008

Bush Barrow is situated around 1 kilometre southwest of Stonehenge on Normanton Down. It forms part of the Normanton Down Barrows cemetery.[1] The surviving earthworks have an overall diameter of 49 metres and comprise a large mound with breaks in the slope suggesting three phases of development.[1] The barrow currently stands 3.3 metres high and its summit measures 10.5 metres in diameter.[1]

The barrow is one of the "associated sites" in the World Heritage Site covering Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites (Cultural, ID 373, 1986).[2]


The barrow was excavated in 1808 by William Cunnington for Sir Richard Colt Hoare.[1] It contained a male skeleton with rich funerary goods, including a large 'lozenge'-shaped sheet of gold, a sheet gold belt plate, three bronze daggers, a bronze axe, a stone macehead and bronze rivets.[3]

The design of the artifact known as the Bush Barrow Lozenge, and the smaller lozenge, has been shown to be based on a hexagon construction. Both the shape and the decorative panels appear to have been created by repeating hexagons within a series of three concentric circles (each framing the series of smaller decorative panels).[4] The precision and accuracy displayed by the work demonstrates both a sophisticated tool kit and a sound knowledge of geometric form. A similar gold lozenge from Clandon Barrow, in Dorset, used a decagon in its design.

One of the daggers had a wooden hilt decorated with several thousand gold pins that form a herringbone pattern. The pins are 0.04 inches in length.[5] It is thought that the gold came from Ireland, and the dagger was made in Brittany.[6] David Dawson, Director of Wiltshire Heritage Museum has stated that:

"The gold studs are remarkable evidence of the skill and craftsmanship of Bronze Age goldsmiths - quite rightly described as 'the work of the gods'"[6]


  1. ^ a b c d Bush Barrow (943060). PastScape. English Heritage. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
  2. ^ UNESCO website
  3. ^ Wiltshire Museum
  4. ^ Johnson, Anthony, Solving Stonehenge: The New Key to an Ancient Enigma pp 182-185 (Thames & Hudson, 2008) ISBN 978-0-500-05155-9
  5. ^ Melrose, Robin (2010). The Druids and King Arthur: A New View of Early Britain. p. 96. ISBN 9780786460052. 
  6. ^ a b Khan, Urmee (22 Oct 2008). "Britain's 'most important archeological' discovery found in desk drawer". Daily Telegraph. 

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