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BALLOWALL BARROW

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Ballowall Barrow is prehistoric funerary cairn which incorporates multiple phases of use and funerary practice spanning the Neolithic and Middle Bronze Age periods. It is situated on the cliff top at Ballowall Common, St Just. Ballowall Common has been heavily exploited by miners for the many lodes of tin which underlie the area, which meant that the monument was for a long period concealed and protected beneath mine waste. It was excavated in 1874 by W.C. Borlase. There are many discrepancies in the accounts of the excavation work, some of the finds were lost and interpretation of the site has been made difficult. Reconstruction work carried out after the excavation, in an effort to make interior features more accessible has further complicated the site.

The site consists of a chambered round cairn or entrance grave. A small covered gallery, leading only a short way into the cairn was found and under its paved floor were burnt human bones and fragments of pottery apparently of the Bronze Age. Behind the gallery but quite separate from it was a small empty cist. A well-built oval wall was found at the centre of the cairn and within it, at ground level, was 4 small cists one of which contained a small Late Bronze Age urn. Another cist, containing animal bones and fragments of pottery, was found in the middle of the cairn about 5 feet above ground level. There was a considerable amount of broken pottery found in the mound. In addition, a Roman coin discovered in a small cist set high up within the mound suggests that the site continued to be a focus of local attention well after the Bronze Age.

The walkway around the central mound and the revetted central space were built by Borlase after excavation so that visitors could see the cists and other features which would be hidden had the site been fully reconstructed. Finds from the site are in museums at Truro and Cambridge, and the British Museum, London. The site is in the care of English Heritage.

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Further information about monuments may be obtained by contacting Archive Services, through the Historic England website.