Ancient Monuments

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Rivenhall long mortuary enclosure

A Scheduled Monument in Rivenhall, Essex

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.8183 / 51°49'5"N

Longitude: 0.6784 / 0°40'42"E

OS Eastings: 584700.556767

OS Northings: 216687.803164

OS Grid: TL847166

Mapcode National: GBR QKZ.Y2B

Mapcode Global: VHJJS.PKZG

Entry Name: Rivenhall long mortuary enclosure

Scheduled Date: 10 October 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008980

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20757

County: Essex

Civil Parish: Rivenhall

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Essex

Church of England Parish: Rivenhall and Silver End

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford

Details

The monument includes a long mortuary enclosure situated on the flood plain of
the River Blackwater, 2.25km south east of Rivenhall parish church. Although
no longer visible as an earthwork at ground level the monument can be clearly
seen as a cropmark and on aerial photographs. The cropmarks indicate the
survival of infilled ditches which surround a monument which was regular in
plan with parallel sides and rounded corners and measured 49m east-west by 16m
north-south.
A small sample of the monument was excavated in 1986. The archaeological
features were found to be about 0.3m below the ground surface. The ditch top
measures an average of 2.08m in width but the bottom of the ditch varies in
width from 0.5m to 0.83m. The depth of the ditch varies from 1.5m to 1.7m. The
profile of the ditch also varies, the western arm having very steep sides and
a flat bottom whilst the other arms have more sloping sides. The eastern ditch
is shelved at about 0.55m from the bottom. These variations in depth and
profile of the ditch were caused by the redigging of the ditch at intervals
following partial silting. The ditch sections indicate the presence of an
internal bank. A small quantity of worked flint and a few sherds of Early
Neolithic pottery were recovered from the enclosure ditch. Other finds
including earlier prehistoric pottery, more flintwork, Roman pottery and
medieval and post-medieval pottery and tile were recovered from the ploughsoil
around the monument.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 5 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Long mortuary enclosures are oblong-shaped enclosures up to 150m in length,
surrounded by narrow, fairly straight ditches with slightly rounded corners,
containing an open space edged by a perimeter bank set within the ditch.
Characteristically there are two or more major causeways across the ditch
which served as entrances. Most long mortuary enclosures are orientated
within 45 degrees of an east-west alignment. Long mortuary enclosures are
generally associated with human burials dated to the Early and Middle
Neolithic periods (c.3200-2500 BC). There are approximately 35 examples
recorded in England. The greatest concentration lies in Essex and Suffolk,
but there are also examples along the Thames and in Warwickshire along the
Avon; two isolated examples have been recorded in Northumberland. Long
mortuary enclosures are very rare nationally and all surviving examples are
considered worthy of protection.

Although no longer visible at ground level, Rivenhall long mortuary enclosure
survives well as a buried feature. The sample excavation of the site
demonstrated that the ditch remains well preserved and will provide
archaeological information relating to the construction and use of the
monument and environmental information relating to the landscape in which it
was constructed.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Buckley, , Milton, , Excavation Of Possible Long Barrow Or Mortuary Enclosure At Rive, (1988), 77-91

Source: Historic England

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