Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Barrow field north-west of Offham Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Hamsey, East Sussex

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Latitude: 50.8898 / 50°53'23"N

Longitude: -0.0224 / 0°1'20"W

OS Eastings: 539186.808989

OS Northings: 111893.748482

OS Grid: TQ391118

Mapcode National: GBR KPV.155

Mapcode Global: FRA B6VR.733

Entry Name: Barrow field north-west of Offham Hill

Scheduled Date: 19 June 1967

Last Amended: 21 December 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009101

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20124

County: East Sussex

Civil Parish: Hamsey

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: Hamsey St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The monument includes an early medieval or Anglo-Saxon barrow field situated
on the south-east facing slope of a hill in an area of chalk downland. The
barrow field includes at least thirteen barrow mounds in a nucleated cluster.
They range between 4m and 9.5m in diameter and from 0.2m to 0.6m in height;
the majority of the group (ten of the thirteen), however, are of uniform size
and shape, ranging from 4m to 6m across and from 0.3m to 0.6m high. There is
no evidence for any surrounding ditches although these are likely to survive
as buried features up to 2m wide.
Four of the barrows have central hollows suggesting that they may have been
partially excavated, possibly by Shrapnell in c.1800. He is known to have
excavated a number of barrows near to Offham chalk pits although the precise
location was not recorded. Details which are known include the fact that he
opened two mounds which contained female skeletons, while the others he opened
contained human bones surrounded and covered with large flints. No grave
goods were recovered.

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

Beginning in the fifth century AD, there is evidence from distinctive burials
and cemeteries, new settlements, and new forms of pottery and metalwork, of
the immigration into Britain of settlers from northern Europe, bringing with
them new religious beliefs. The Roman towns appear to have gone into rapid
decline and the old rural settlement pattern to have been disrupted. Although
some Roman settlements and cemeteries continued in use, the native Britons
rapidly adopted many of the cultural practices of the new settlers and it soon
becomes difficult to distinguish them in the archaeological record. So-called
Anglo-Saxon cemeteries are dated to the early Anglo-Saxon period, from the
fifth to the seventh centuries AD. With the conversion to Christianity during
the late sixth and seventh centuries AD, these pagan cemeteries appear to have
been abandoned in favour of new sites, some of which have continued in use up
to the present day. Burial practices included both inhumation and cremation.
Anglo-Saxon inhumation cemeteries consist predominantly of inhumation burials
which were placed in rectangular pits in the ground, occasionally within
coffins. The bodies were normally accompanied by a range of grave goods,
including jewellery and weaponry. The cemeteries vary in size, the largest
containing several hundred burials. Around 1000 inhumation cemeteries have
been recorded in England. They represent one of our principal sources of
archaeological evidence about the Early Anglo-Saxon period, providing
information on population, social structure and ideology. All surviving
examples, other than those which have been heavily disturbed, are considered
worthy of protection.

Despite partial excavation, the barrow field north-west of Offham Hill
survives well and contains further important archaeological remains relating
to social organisation in this area during the early medieval period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Cooke, G A, Topographical Description of County of Sussex, (1934), 123-4

Source: Historic England

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