Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Ancient burials resurrected by UK company trying to bring back barrows

The round barrow in Cambridgeshire will be the region’s first in more than 3,500 years

Jenny Marc
Tuesday 28 June 2016 11:04 BST
Ancient form of burial is being resurrected by Britrish company

Thousands of years ago, prehistoric communities buried their dead in barrows – stone structures covered in grass, some of which still dot the British countryside today.

But as civilisation developed, society eventually abandoned the tradition – until now.

A British company is building a round barrow in Cambridgeshire and will expand to at least six other counties across England in coming months.

“We’ve felt that the end of life is served very poorly. It is served very efficiently, but there seems to be a lack of choice,” said Toby Angel, managing director of the business.

“And that just didn’t seem to make sense to us. So we set up Sacred Stones.”

Over 570,000 people die each year in the United Kingdom, according the Office for National Statistics, and nearly three quarters of those deaths result in cremation.

Upon receiving their loved ones’ ashes, family members only have a handful of options: scatter, store them at home or have urns interred for hundreds of pounds.

But Mr Angel hopes that the barrows will provide a new, non-denominational option for those who are searching for a final resting place beyond the cemetery.

“Tens of thousands of urns are left uncollected, and I suppose that makes sense. No one knows quite what to do,” Mr Angel explained as he sat in the barrow’s half-finished inner chamber.

“They assume you’ve got to take the body, or the funeral director has to take the body. No, not at all. You can do what you’d like.”

Sacred Stones is one of several companies being analysed by The Corpse Project, a non-profit initiative that is exploring how bodies are dealt with after death. The group’s research findings will be published later this week.

The round barrow in Cambridgeshire is scheduled to open at the end of July, and will have 385 spaces, or niches, which can hold one, two or five urns depending on the size.

Customers who purchase a niche will have the entire day to conduct any type of ceremony they would like, and will be able to visit the space at any point afterwards.

“We don’t really deal with death in a bizarre sort of way. I think, as it is often said, death is for the living, and we’re here to help people celebrate the lives of loved ones.”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in