So, paired with my recent blog about Capel Garmon, I take you to one of the ‘classic’ trapezoidal Neolithic chambered tombs of the ‘Cotswold-Severn’ type. Just south of Winchcombe on the Cotswolds, English Heritage operate as custodians of the monument known as Belas Knap. Unusually orientated NNW-SSE, it was subject to excavations in the 1860s and again from 1928-30.

The monument is framed by Cotswold limestone drystone wallking in a well-maintained enclosure. There is a single heritage board just outside the stile.

Although heavily restored, one can explore the chambers and appreciate something of their construction.

Fragments of no fewer than 38 individuals were found and suggest the multi-phase use of the monument as a burial and ceremonial focus for early Neolithic farming communities.

Four chambers (B-E) intervene into the fabric, as well as the ‘portal setting’ of the front of the monument framed by ‘horns’ projecting from the mound. The false entrance covered 6 skeletons, 5 of which were infants. These were thought to be Early Bronze Age burials.

Chamber B (SE chamber)  contained 2 male and two female skeletons.

Chamber C (NE chamber) contained 11/12 skeletons, one supposedly in a sitting position.

Chamber D (NW chamber) contained 14 skeletons including at least one child, plus an adult female with fatal head injuries.

Chamber E (S chamber) contained human skull fragments in the southern ‘tail’ of the monument.

The heavily restored facade reveals the drystone walling technique seen at other monuments, including Wayland’s Smithy and Capel Garmon.

Sadly, there is no up-to-date guidebook regarding this fascinating monument, and details of its topographical and landscape situation, and its monumentality and mortuary rituals aren’t discussed in comparative terms.