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The Winterbournes

A picture for Winterbourne

Welcome to the website for The Winterbournes.

Three villages which all have the River Bourne running through them are located in Wiltshire, UK and close to the historic city of Salisbury.

These 3 villages are called:

  • Winterbourne Gunner
  • Winterbourne Dauntsey, and
  • Winterbourne Earls.

The picture shows the River Bourne flowing beneath the road bridge in Winterbourne Gunner during Spring 2006.


A winterbourne is a stream or river that is dry through the summer months. A winterbourne is sometimes simply called a bourne, from the Anglo- Saxon for a stream flowing from a spring, although this term can also be used for all-year water courses.

Winterbournes generally form in areas where there is chalk (or other porous rock) downland, bordering clay valleys or vales. When it rains the chalk, which is porous, holds water in its aquifer, releasing the water at a steady rate. During dry seasons the water table may fall below the level of the stream's bed, causing it to dry out.

Winterbournes occasionally give their names to settlements. Some of the UK's 'Winterbournes' are villages in Dorset, such as Winterbourne Abbas, Winterborne Monkton, Zelston, Houghton, Whitchurch, and Compton. Ones in Wiltshire include Winterbourne Gunner, Dauntsey, Earls and Stoke.

Exploitation of chalk aquifers as a domestic water source in Britain has had the effect of converting many streams and rivers into artificial winterbournes. This effect is controversial, and local campaigns have often been successful in reducing aquifer abstraction and reversing the effect. For an example, see the River Pang in Berkshire.