The “Ancient Mound” Project

This project has had a long gestation. A SOAG member spotted the mound in a Chilterns field in his youth in the early 1950s and discovered that it had been neither recorded nor studied. Personally convinced that it dated from the Bronze Age, starting in 2007 he organised a variety of geophysical and mapping surveys of the site in which many SOAG members have been involved.

On the surface can be seen a mound approximately 60 metres in diameter and 2 metres elevation.

View of Site


In 2007 a topological survey confirmed a slight depression or ditch at the edge of this visible mound, which aligns with a circular feature revealed in a dowsing survey undertaken by two SOAG enthusiasts. A geophysics resistivity survey then revealed an ‘opaque’ circular structure at the centre of the mound approximately 20 meters in diameter, encircled by a ring about 2 meters wide at the edge of the mound.

Resistivity Plot


A number of resistivity pseudo-sections were taken across diameters of the Mound. With the assistance of the Archaeology Department of Reading University the following picture was produced which shows a vertical ‘slice’ 85 meters long and 4 meters deep across the E-W axis of the Mound.

Resistivity Vertical Slice

The central structure is revealed to be a relatively flat feature at or near the surface, and about 2 meters from top to bottom. The feature at the circumference appears to be a ditch.

At this point the County Archaeologist for Oxfordshire opined that whilst a Bronze Age Barrow was the most probable explanation, it could also be Anglo Saxon.

Later in the season a GPR (Ground Penetrating Radar) survey was undertaken, again with the assistance of Reading University.

Geophysics Surveying

SOAG members conducting a GPR survey

The survey produced a comprehensive 3-D image of the Mound. This provided much detail. For example the following horizontal slice through the central circular feature at a depth of about a metre intriguingly suggests that it has some internal, chambered, structure. The possibility has now been raised that this may even be a Neolithic structure.

Resistivity Plot


The principal focus of our work in 2009 was to extend our survey over a wider area. We continued our geophysical survey of the field in which The Mound is located using all the techniques available to us (resistivity, magnetometry, GPR and dowsing), and we hope to complete this work in 2010. In a further line of investigation one of our members has been studying Google Earth images of adjacent fields, some of which show indications of possible archaeology. Our first ground survey was of two ring-like features, visible from the air but not on the ground, which look suspiciously like Bronze Age structures, but the analysis of our survey data is not yet complete. (Much of this work was undertaken again in collaboration with the University of Reading. For the University this relationship provides opportunities for student project work, and for SOAG it provides access to equipment and expertise otherwise unavailable to us.)

A further focus of our work this year was the large quarry-like structure on one edge of the main field. Our geophysical survey suggested that it might be surrounded by an ancient ditch identical in diameter to the one around the main Mound, raising the possibility that the ‘quarry’ might have been the site of a second mound similar to the first. To test this theory we undertook two surveys: (1) a magnetometry survey of the adjacent field to see if the possible ditch could be detected there, and (2) a resistivity pseudo section through the approximate centre of the ring (just avoiding the ‘quarry’ itself) to detect any remains of a possible replica of the central feature of the main Mound. The resulting image contains interesting features but the interpretation of these is not yet complete.

Aerial plan of quarry

And finally we took the opportunity to undertake a field walking survey immediately after the field was ploughed. This was supervised by a SOAG member for whom it was a project undertaken as part of her degree in archaeology. It also provided an excellent training opportunity for many SOAGs. Most importantly provided useful information about the history of area near to the Mound yielding as it did a large collection of mainly middle Bronze Age worked flints.



Worked flint
Worked flint
Worked flint

Worked flints


(To be updated shortly)

(Publication of this information by SOAG on this website or in other SOAG publications in no way prejudices any decision by Reading University staff to publish details of the work described here in a journal, and under authorship, of their choosing).

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If you would like anymore information please contact David Nicholls at

Project Leader

David Nicholls.