Ancient Monuments

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Bowl barrow and four hlaews on the summit of Saxon Down

A Scheduled Monument in Ringmer, East Sussex

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Latitude: 50.8747 / 50°52'29"N

Longitude: 0.0505 / 0°3'1"E

OS Eastings: 544361.417411

OS Northings: 110361.573368

OS Grid: TQ443103

Mapcode National: GBR LRG.1L0

Mapcode Global: FRA B6ZS.KH3

Entry Name: Bowl barrow and four hlaews on the summit of Saxon Down

Scheduled Date: 27 January 1967

Last Amended: 2 February 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009948

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25481

County: East Sussex

Civil Parish: Ringmer

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: Glynde St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The monument includes a Bronze Age bowl barrow and four Anglo-Saxon hlaews or
burial mounds, situated on a chalk hill which forms part of a ridge of the
Sussex Downs. The bowl barrow is the largest and most visible of the group,
situated at the highest point of the hill, and has a circular mound c.10m in
diameter, which survives to a height of 0.5m. A large depression in the centre
of the mound indicates that the barrow has been partially excavated some time
in the past.
Surrounding the mound is a ditch from which material used to construct the
barrow was excavated. This has become infilled over the years, but survives as
a buried feature c.2m wide. A small fragment of Bronze Age pottery was found
in a molehill on the mound in 1930.
The most prominent hlaew partially overlies the ditch of the earlier bowl
barrow on its eastern side. This is a roughly east-west aligned, oval mound
measuring 9.5m by 5.5m, which survives to a height of around 0.3m. The three
remaining hlaews are small, bowl shaped mounds between 4.5m-8.5m in diameter
and up to 0.3m high. The most westerly of these has a large central hollow,
indicating partial excavation. The quarry ditches surrounding each of the
hlaews are no longer visible, but survive as buried features c.1m wide.

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

A hlaew is a burial monument of Anglo Saxon or Viking date and comprises a
usually 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
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 skills 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
Despite some disturbance by past ploughing and partial excavation, the bowl
barrow and four hlaews on the summit of Saxon Down survive comparatively well
and will contain archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to
the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed. The location of
the later, Saxon burial mounds around the earlier, prehistoric barrow
indicates the continuing importance of this area for burial practices and
territorial claims over a period of around 3,000 years.

Source: Historic England


Source 2, Grinsell, LV, TQ 41 SW 13/ 170: Desc. Text by Ordnance Survey surveyor, (1930)

Source: Historic England

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