I spent £1,000 to be enshrined with my husband in a Bronze Age burial mound when I die –


It was about a decade ago that Hampshire healthcare professional Caroline Knight heard about an unusual new project.  

Tim Daw, a Wiltshire farmer, was transforming his land into a Bronze Age-style burial mound –  a round stone structure covered by huge heap of earth. 

Inspired by the original burial ‘barrows’ or ‘tumuli’ dating back 5,000 years, the structure at All Cannings near Devizes would hold urns containing people’s ashes.

The idea instantly resonated with Mrs Knight, now 73, who was born and mostly raised on nearby Salisbury Plain when her father was in the Royal Artillery. 

‘Tumuli are just a natural part of the landscape there and were very familiar to us,’ she told MailOnline. 

Caroline Knight and her husband Tony (pictured) decided to pay to have their ashes in a Bronze Age-style burial mound in Wiltshire

Caroline Knight and her husband Tony (pictured) decided to pay to have their ashes in a Bronze Age-style burial mound in Wiltshire

The first modern burial mound - All Cannings, near Devizes in Wiltshire (pictured) - opened around a decade ago and since then several more have been built

The first modern burial mound – All Cannings, near Devizes in Wiltshire (pictured) – opened around a decade ago and since then several more have been built 

The practice of building the large tomb to store the remains of the dead dates back more than 5,000 years. Pictured, the interior of the All Cannings burial mound with 'alcoves' set into the walls, each designed to hold urns containing people's ashes

The practice of building the large tomb to store the remains of the dead dates back more than 5,000 years. Pictured, the interior of the All Cannings burial mound with ‘alcoves’ set into the walls, each designed to hold urns containing people’s ashes 

The original Neolithic burial barrows 

Neolithic ‘barrows’ are earth mounds that were built over stone structures which acted as collective tombs. 

They were built thousands of years ago by hand using natural limestone, lime mortar and traditional techniques.

Barrows were traditionally built for the social elite while ordinary citizens were cremated or buried.

They were first constructed in about 4,000 BC with the best-known site at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk.

The ancient burial chambers have not been widely used in Britain since around 2,000 BC. 

But in the past decade new modern barrows have been constructed to store the ashes of loved-ones. 

‘As my husband and I got older we did need to make a decision about what our children should do with our ashes.

‘When we saw an article about the columbarium on Tim’s land it just seemed a perfect solution for us.’ 

Mrs Knight (formerly a radiographer and now retired) and her husband Tony (a forensic medical examiner) booked their place at All Cannings before it was completed. 

It means that after they die and their bodies are cremated, their ashes will be stored in urns that are positioned next to each other in an ‘alcove’ or ‘niche’ – a little recess in the wall. 

Friends and family will be able to visit on certain days to pay their respects, much like visitors to a grave. 

What’s more, their niche includes room for two more urns – containing the ashes of Mrs Knight’s sister and her husband too. 

‘When we talked to my sister and her husband about it they agreed it was a suitable place for all of us so we booked a family niche,’ Mrs Knight said. 

In all, the four family members paid around £1,000 for a 99-year lease on their space at All Cannings. 

‘If the barrow fills up and our niche is required after that time the ashes will be scattered on the land around the barrow,’ she added. 

Having visited the barrow during its opening ceremony in September 2014, she describes it as ‘beautifully constructed’. 

‘It blends well in the landscape and inside there is a lovely peaceful feeling.  

The barrow at All Cannings is described on its website as 'a spiritual place where people of any or no faith can come to remember and give thanks, especially for the lives of their loved ones'

The barrow at All Cannings is described on its website as ‘a spiritual place where people of any or no faith can come to remember and give thanks, especially for the lives of their loved ones’

The modern burial barrow at All Cannings is just north of Salisbury Plain and the world-famous Stonehenge

The modern burial barrow at All Cannings is just north of Salisbury Plain and the world-famous Stonehenge 

All Cannings cross section: From the outside, barrows resemble little hills covered in grass, but inside there are rows and rows of alcoves set into stone walls, containing urns of cremated remains

All Cannings cross section: From the outside, barrows resemble little hills covered in grass, but inside there are rows and rows of alcoves set into stone walls, containing urns of cremated remains

The original barrows (pictured) were built thousands of years ago by hand using natural limestone, lime mortar and traditional techniques

The original barrows (pictured) were built thousands of years ago by hand using natural limestone, lime mortar and traditional techniques

‘Our families are delighted that there are no decisions to be made once we are gone.

‘It is paid for in full so no ongoing costs either.’ 

Since All Cannings opened, further barrow sites have sprung up in Cambridgeshire, Dorset, Shropshire and Oxfordshire. 

Yet another one is planned on farmland near Milton Keynes in Weston Underwood, Buckinghamshire. 

Meanwhile, funeral firm AW Lymn has recently been given the green light to build a new barrow site outside of Calverton in Nottinghamshire. 

According to Pete Clarson, commercial director at AW Lymn, burial barrows are ‘more than a place for ashes to be laid to rest’. 

‘The barrows offer an alternative to a burial option, yet still provide a place where the bereaved can go to understand their grief, accept their loss and celebrate a life,’ he told MailOnline.

The first modern barrow - All Cannings, near Marlborough in Wiltshire - opened in 2015. Since then, further barrow sites have sprung up in Cambridgeshire, Dorset, Shropshire and Oxfordshire

The first modern barrow – All Cannings, near Marlborough in Wiltshire – opened in 2015. Since then, further barrow sites have sprung up in Cambridgeshire, Dorset, Shropshire and Oxfordshire 

Construction of All Cannings back in 2014, When full it contains around 600 cremated remains

Construction of All Cannings back in 2014, When full it contains around 600 cremated remains 

‘Set within a beautiful and tranquil surrounding, they are a special space made from natural materials where people can go and spend time in memory of their loved one.’ 

The original barrows (tumuli) date from the early Neolithic to the middle Bronze Age periods, around 4000 BC to 1400 BC. 

These impressive earth mounds were built overs stone structures which acted as collective tombs, although they were traditionally built for the social elite.

Sutton Hoo in Suffolk still has around 20 of these barrows, which were reserved for people who owned objects suggesting they had wealth or prestige. 

My husband had a water cremation – and it was the perfect send off to celebrate his life spent around lakes as a fisherman 

When Minnesota fisherman Robert J Klink passed away in 2017, his widow opted for what was at the time an unconventional burial choice for her dearly departed.

To reflect a life spent around lakes, Mrs Judi Olmsted decided upon a water cremation for Robert, as an alternative to a land burial or a fire cremation. 

Robert had told his wife he wanted to be cremated, but when she approached a local funeral home in Stillwater she found there were two cremation options – flame and water. 

Also known as alkaline hydrolysis, water cremation involves rapidly decomposing a corpse in a stream of water and alkaline chemicals – leaving only liquid and bones.

The liquid, known as ‘effluent’, can go down the drain with other wastewater and bones that can be ground to ash for the bereaved owner to take home. 

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