A round barrow is a type of tumulus and is one of the most common types of archaeological monuments. Although concentrated in Europe, they are found in many parts of the world, probably because of their simple construction and universal purpose.
At its simplest, a round barrow is a hemispherical mound of earth and/or stone raised over a burial placed in the middle. Beyond this there are numerous variations which may employ surrounding ditches, stone kerbs or flat berms between ditch and mound. Construction methods range from a single creation process of heaped material to a complex depositional sequence involving alternating layers of stone, soil and turf with timbers or wattle used to help hold the structure together.
Many round barrows attract surrounding satellite burials or later ones inserted into the mound itself. In some cases these occur hundreds or even thousands of years after the original barrow was built and were placed by entirely different cultures.
Denmark has many tumuli, including round barrows. The round barrows here were built over a very broad span of time and culture, from the Neolithic Stone Age to the Viking Age. They show a large variation of construction design while sharing a common exterior look. Tumulis were protected by law in 1937.
Loddenhøj near Aarhus. Many smaller round barrows in Denmark are encircled by agricultural fields.
Tinghøjen near Randers. Many barrows are overgrown by shrubs or trees.
The two round barrows at Jelling from the Viking Age, are the youngest in Denmark.
In Britain round barrows generally date to the Early Bronze Age although Neolithic examples are also known. Later round barrows were also sometimes used by Roman, Viking and Saxon societies. Examples include Rillaton barrow and Round Loaf. Where several contemporary round barrows are grouped together, the area is referred to as a barrow cemetery.
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