Hetty Pegler’s Tump, Uley, Gloucestershire

Text by Tim Darvill

Hetty Pegler’s Tump is egarded by many as the best long barrow to visit for an authentic appreciation of the chamber interior, andit is certainly in a charming place situated, right on the edge of the Cotswold escarpment. The strange name of this fine barrow comes from two seventeenth-jentury owners of the field in which it stands: Henry Pegler (died 1695) and his wife Hester (died 1694).

The mound of Hetty Pegler’s Tump is characteristically trapezoidal, 36m long by 26m wide and orientated roughly east-west. Two horns flank the narrow east-facing forecourt, in the back of which is the entrance to the chamber. Reconstruction work in the mid nineteenth century wrongly positioned the massive portal stone, making the entrance rather lower than it once was. But this error has its advantages in making the chamber area feel enclosed. Once under the portal stone it is possible to crouch in the central passage and soak in the atmosphere. On the south are two side chambers, but two to the north have been blocked up for safety.

Only their portals can be seen. A fifth chamber cell lies at the far end of the passage. Being inside the dark chamber with only a candle makes it easy to imagine a ceremony or burial ritual here nearly 6,000 years ago. While in the chamber, notice some of the key-points about this barrow: the roof constructed of overlapping slabs; the use of dry-stone walling to fill the gaps between the orthostats forming the chamber walls; and the natural holes and hollows in some of the orthostats.

Consider the difficulties of moving corpses about in the confined space. When excavated in 1821 at least 15 disarticulated skeletons were found and a further eight or nine in 1854.


SO 7895 0004. W of the B4066 between Stroud and Uley. Signposted with some roadside parking. Approached across fields by a marked footpath. English Heritage.

Further reading: Crawford 1925, 102-6 (C31); Clifford 1966.

Long Barrows of the Cotswolds and surrounding areas – Tim Darvill

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