Stone Age tomb service at Pewsey is taking off
9:00am Monday 9th June 2014 in By Jill Crooks, Devizes area senior reporter
The first long barrow to be built for 5,000 years is now taking shape in the Pewsey Vale.
The unusual burial feature – on Tim Daw’s farm at Cannings Cross, All Cannings – will store cremated human remains.
It has been inspired by burial tombs from Neolithic times, with one of the most famous examples being West Kennet, built around 3650 BC and now part of Avebury’s World Heritage Site.
The mound of the new long barrow will be covered with grass and inside will be stone chambers. Those will have niches in which urns containing ashes can be kept.
There will be four chambers, with 250 niches, when the long barrow opens in August, but the long- term plan is for seven chambers and 350 niches. Each can hold from six to eight urns.
To buy a niche costs a one-off payment of £1,000, but Mr Daw said this would rise as the project progressed to cover his costs.
Mr Daw, who is a steward at Stonehenge, said: “Between 35 to 40 people have bought niches and there are several urns ready to go in. I’m pleased with that, because it’s not finished yet. I think £1,000 is very good value.”
One of the customers who has bought a niche is Mr Daw’s colleague at Stonehenge, Simon Banton, 49, of Figheldean.
He and Mr Daw came up with the idea for the long barrow.
Mr Banton said: “I’m interested in the alignment of ancient monuments and what appeals to me about having my remains in this long barrow is the permanence of the structure and the landscape.
“This long barrow is going to baffle archaeologists forever.”
Each winter solstice sunrise will shine down the length of the internal passageway of the new long barrow.
The burial place is near another long barrow, the Adam’s Grave Neolithic long barrow, and Iron Age camp and settlements.
Mr Daw said: “The long barrow will be a hidden gem. Part of the idea for it came from speaking to people who said there was nowhere for them to put ashes.
“I have had such positive reactions to it. Local people have been very supportive.”
The front of the long barrow is made out of Sarsen stone, which is the same material as the stone circles at Avebury and Stonehenge. The inside is made from limestone.
Last Thursday, Mr Daw invited local archaeologists to have a look at the progress that has been made on his long barrow.
One of them was David Field, a retired archaeologist from Yates-bury, who worked on the repair of Silbury Hill and has visited most of the country’s long barrows.
He said: “It’s very interesting. The facade looks very impressive and the chambers are very good.
“It’s not a direct copy of anything Neolithic and I think that’s quite deliberate. It’s distinctive and modern.”