Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Two groups of round barrows south east of Firle Beacon

A Scheduled Monument in Alciston, Wealden

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Latitude: 50.8318 / 50°49'54"N

Longitude: 0.1126 / 0°6'45"E

OS Eastings: 548871.7128

OS Northings: 105717.0036

OS Grid: TQ488057

Mapcode National: GBR LRX.R9T

Mapcode Global: FRA C63W.ZN1

Entry Name: Two groups of round barrows SE of Firle Beacon

Scheduled Date: 30 January 1967

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1003310

English Heritage Legacy ID: ES 273

County: Wealden

Civil Parish: Alciston

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: Selmeston St Mary with Alciston

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


Two round barrow cemeteries south-east of Firle Beacon, 975m west of Bopeep Farm.

Source: Historic England


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 2 March 2015. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

The monument includes two round barrow cemeteries situated south-east of Firle Beacon on the steep escarpment forming the northern edge of the South Downs between Lewes and Eastbourne. The South Downs Way passes just to the south of both sets of barrows. The cemeteries each include six bowl barrows, surviving as broadly circular mounds arranged in a tight cluster. The westernmost cemetery is on a south-east slope closest to Firle Beacon. The barrows vary in diameter from about 11m to 7m and in height from about 0.5m to 0.8m. The second cemetery is about 300m to the south-east. The barrows vary in diameter from about 10m to 5m and in height from about 1m to 0.5m. The uneven surface of several of the mounds in both cemeteries indicate that they have been partially excavated some time in the past.

In about 1849, an excavation of three barrows was carried out by J. Y. Akerman between Firle Beacon and Litlington. This revealed what were thought to be Anglo-Saxon inhumations, each accompanied with an iron knife. These excavations have traditionally been associated with some of the barrows from the two cemeteries; however their exact location remains uncertain.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Round barrow cemeteries date to the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). They comprise closely-spaced groups of up to 30 round barrows - rubble or earthen mounds covering single or multiple burials. Most cemeteries developed over a considerable period of time, often many centuries, and in some cases acted as a focus for burials as late as the early medieval period. They exhibit considerable diversity of burial rite, plan and form, frequently including several different types of round barrow, occasionally associated with earlier long barrows. Where large scale investigation has been undertaken around them, contemporary or later "flat" burials between the barrow mounds have often been revealed. Round barrow cemeteries occur across most of lowland Britain, with a marked concentration in Wessex. In some cases, they are clustered around other important contemporary monuments such as henges. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape, whilst their diversity and their longevity as a monument type provide important information on the variety of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving or partly-surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.

Despite some signs of disturbance by partial excavation and agricultural activity, the two round barrow cemeteries south-east of Firle Beacon survive well. They will contain archaeological information and environmental evidence relating to the cemeteries and the landscape in which they were constructed. Their close association with broadly contemporary and later, early medieval funerary monuments along the prominent escarpment to the west and east, provides evidence for the continuing importance of this area of downland for burial and ceremonial practices over a period of around 3000 years.

Source: Historic England


NMR TQ40NE31, TQ40NE32. PastScape 405771, 405774.

Source: Historic England

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