Ancient Monuments

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Bowl barrow and later beacon at Tumble Beacon

A Scheduled Monument in Tattenhams, Surrey

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Latitude: 51.3167 / 51°19'0"N

Longitude: -0.2175 / 0°13'2"W

OS Eastings: 524319.594742

OS Northings: 159019.667339

OS Grid: TQ243590

Mapcode National: GBR BT.XGM

Mapcode Global: VHGRX.55WF

Entry Name: Bowl barrow and later beacon at Tumble Beacon

Scheduled Date: 6 June 1924

Last Amended: 15 November 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009804

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20173

County: Surrey

Electoral Ward/Division: Tattenhams

Built-Up Area: Ewell

Traditional County: Surrey

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Surrey

Church of England Parish: Nork

Church of England Diocese: Guildford


The monument includes a bowl barrow, later modified and reused as a beacon
hill, situated on a gentle north facing slope of the chalk of the North Downs.
The barrow survives as a mound 35m east-west by 40m north-south and 4m high
surrounded by a ditch from which material was quarried for its construction.
When the mound was later modified for reuse it is likely that the size of the
mound was greatly increased, causing the area of the earlier ditch to be
infilled and buried. The monument was known to be in use as a beacon in 1594.
Excluded from the scheduling are the concrete steps on the north side of the
mound, the retaining walls around the mound, and the tarmac surface of the
surrounding driveway, although the ground beneath all these features is

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

Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments
dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most
examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. They were constructed as
earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple
burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often
acted as a focus for burials in later periods. Often superficially similar,
although differing widely in size, they exhibit regional variations in form
and a diversity of burial practices. There are over 10,000 surviving bowl
barrows recorded nationally (many more have already been destroyed), occurring
across most of lowland Britain. Often occupying prominent locations, they are
a major historic element in the modern landscape and their considerable
variation of form and longevity as a monument type provide important
information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisations amongst early
prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period
and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of

Beacons were fires deliberately lit to warn of the approach of hostile forces.
They were prominently located as intervisible groups or chains of beacons on
natural hills and/or earlier earthworks, such as Tumble Beacon, and formed
part of the defensive system of the country from at least as early as 1326
through until at least 1745. Originally the fires were simple bonfires but,
later, barrels of pitch were used, fire baskets on poles and, less frequently,
fires in stone structures of some kind. The recognition of beacon sites
contributes to our understanding of the defensive systems in the medieval
period and many have become identified in folklore.
The reuse of the bowl barrow at Tumble Beacon is known to date back to at
least the 16th century when it was used as a beacon hill. The addition of
further material to increase the height of the original barrow mound will have
helped to preserve the archaeological and environmental evidence it
contains and protected the monument from the attentions of the later
antiquarians who examined many similar barrows.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Manning, O, Bray, W, History of Surrey, (1809), 581
Grinsell, L V, 'Surrey Archaeological Collections' in Surrey Barrows 1934-1987: A Reappraisal, , Vol. 79, (1987), 11

Source: Historic England

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