Ancient Monuments

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Two Saxon burial mounds on Gally Hills

A Scheduled Monument in Cheam, Sutton

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Latitude: 51.3326 / 51°19'57"N

Longitude: -0.2074 / 0°12'26"W

OS Eastings: 524977.918556

OS Northings: 160805.551148

OS Grid: TQ249608

Mapcode National: GBR CM.SGL

Mapcode Global: VHGRQ.CR6S

Entry Name: Two Saxon burial mounds on Gally Hills

Scheduled Date: 17 March 1926

Last Amended: 10 March 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008053

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23010

County: Sutton

Electoral Ward/Division: Cheam

Built-Up Area: Sutton

Traditional County: Surrey

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: Banstead

Church of England Diocese: Guildford


The monument includes two of a group of four Saxon burial mounds or hlaews,
situated on the crest of a gentle rise at the summit of Banstead Downs, in an
area of undulating sands and gravels.
The two hlaews are visible as earthen mounds, the northern 13m in diameter and
0.5m high; the southern 8m in diameter and 0.7m high. Surrounding the mounds
are ditches from which material was excavated during their construction. These
are no longer visible at ground level, having become infilled over the years,
but survive as buried features c.2m wide.
The name "Gally Hills" comes from the use of the mounds for gallows during the
16th century.
One of the other mounds in the group, part of a separate scheduling, was
partially excavated in 1972; five intrusive or later skeletons were found, and
are believed to be the victims of the gallows, and the central rectangular
primary grave contained an extended inhumation with a bronze hanging bowl, a
shield-boss, a split socketed iron spear-head and an iron knife. The mound was
built on a prepared platform of broken flints.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A hlaew is a burial monument of Anglo-Saxon or Viking date and comprising a
hemispherical mound of earth and redeposited bedrock constructed over a
primary burial or burials. These were usually inhumations, buried in a grave
cut into the subsoil beneath the mound, but cremations placed on the old
ground surface beneath the mound have also been found. Hlaews may occur
in pairs or in small groups; a few have accompanying flat graves. Constructed
during the pagan Saxon and Viking periods for individuals of high rank, they
served as visible and ostentatious markers of their social position. Some
were associated with territorial claims and appear to have been specifically
located to mark boundaries. They often contain objects which give information
on the range of technological skill and trading contacts of the period. Only
between 50 and 60 hlaews have been positively identified in England. As a
rare monument class all positively identified examples are considered worthy
of preservation.

Despite some disturbance, the two hlaews at Gally Hills survive comparatively
well and, along with the other two adjacent hlaews which are the subject of a
separate scheduling, they form an important group containing archaeological
remains and environmental evidence relating both to the burial mounds and the
landscape in which they were constructed.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Grinsell, L V, 'Surrey Archaeological Collections' in Surrey Barrows 1934-1987: A Reappraisal, (1987), 28-29

Source: Historic England

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