Uley Long Barrow, also known locally as Hetty Pegler’s Tump, is a Neolithic burial mound, near the village of Uley, Gloucestershire. It is thought to be at least 5,000 years old, and is one of a number of Cotswold-Severn Long Barrows that are under the care of English Heritage. It is a scheduled National Monument, and having undergone repairs and further archaeological examination in 2011, is free to anyone who wishes to visit.
The first recorded archaeological excavation of the site was in 1821, when workmen discovered it while digging for stone to use in road building. At that time it is recorded that the remains of 15 skeletons, plus the jaw bones of wild boar and neolithic pottery were found within the tomb, while a single skeleton, believed to be a later intrusive Roman burial, was discovered just below the surface of the mound. In 1854, further excavations revealed more human remains within the structure including nine human skulls as well as animal teeth and boar tusks. Throughout the rest of the 19th Century the barrow underwent various episodes of repair and reconstruction which shaped what we see here today.
We decided to visit as my daughter is currently studying early man at school. The site has open access, and is situated in a farmer’s field. The mound looks impressive as you approach it, and we were hugely excited when we spotted the entrance – although we knew we’d be able to go into it, seeing the tiny opening on the side of the great mound was still an adventure, if you do decide to visit you really must take a torch!
As you can see from our photos, entering the tump is not an elegant process, so I’d advise wearing jeans and making sure the person with the camera is not behind you!
Originally there would have been two pairs of chambers (one pair on each side) and an end chamber off the gallery you enter into. The pair on the right of the entrance are blocked off, but the others are accessible. Where it looks as though there is a crack on the left hand side is one of the chambers, with the other just behind the standing stone.
My daughter was able to stand up inside, this is one of the side chambers. Not surprisingly, the Barrow feels very atmospheric. It was a pretty cold, miserable day when we visited, but inside felt very calm, still and quiet. Although we knew that it had been built as a tomb, it didn’t feel an unpleasant place to be. We tried hard to imagine what a task it must have been to build such a structure, knowing what we know about how people lived back then, and how important this place must have been to them.
We then noticed a number of these sacs hanging from the roof. My guess is that they are spider nests, but if anyone knows for sure we’d love to know.
We also went and had a look at Nympsfield Long Barrow, which is less than a mile away. As you can see from our photo this one is exposed, which means that although it doesn’t have the magic of Hetty’s Tump, it does give you the opportunity to see it’s shape really well. You can also see the view from here, that originally both barrows would have looked over – and even on a miserable day it’s pretty breath-taking!