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This is a portrait of Belas Knap Long Barrow, Nr. Winchcombe in Gloucestershire.
Belas Knap Long barrow has a trapezoid mound, rather unusually orientated north–south, with a drystone retaining wall.
At the northern end of the mound is the forecourt, which consists of a recess flanked by two ‘horns’, or projections of the mound. This is fronted by the false entrance of two standing stones and a lintel stone.
Four burial chambers have been identified within the mound; these are situated in the south-east, north-east, west and south of the monument. Each chamber was probably enclosed by its own small mound that was later incorporated into the main barrow structure.
Although Belas Knap seems in good condition, this is the result of several restorations.
Romano-British pottery found inside one of the burial chambers show that it was open in Roman times. It was explored between 1863 and 1865 using the archaeological methods of the time, and some years later was restored by Mrs Emma Dent of Sudeley.
In 1928–30 the site was excavated again, before being restored as we see it today.
At Belas Knap the impressive entrance is a dummy and the burial chambers are entered from the sides of the barrow – when closed and covered by earth they would have been invisible from the outside.
It was probably constructed around 3000 BC and was used for successive burials over a period of years until eventually the burial chambers were deliberately blocked.
Opinion differs as to the reason for the false portal. It may have been to deter robbers, although little in the way of value has been found in undisturbed tomb chambers. Alternatively, it could be that the false entrance functioned as a ‘spirit door’, intended to allow the dead to come and go and partake of offerings brought to the tomb by their descendants.
From the English Heritage webpage: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/belas-knap-long-barrow/history/
Production: MICHAEL BOTT
Music: 'PRELUDE' by This Patch of Sky from the ArtList.io music library
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