Ancient Monuments

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Long barrow on Therfield Heath

A Scheduled Monument in Royston, Hertfordshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.0437 / 52°2'37"N

Longitude: -0.0453 / 0°2'43"W

OS Eastings: 534152.049848

OS Northings: 240166.015573

OS Grid: TL341401

Mapcode National: GBR K7P.TLF

Mapcode Global: VHGNB.5WDP

Entry Name: Long barrow on Therfield Heath

Scheduled Date: 10 August 1923

Last Amended: 16 July 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010428

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20635

County: Hertfordshire

Civil Parish: Royston

Built-Up Area: Royston

Traditional County: Hertfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hertfordshire

Church of England Parish: Therfield

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans

Details

The monument includes a long barrow situated on the crest of a north-facing
slope on Therfield Heath, nearly 100m south-east of a Bronze Age round barrow
cemetery. It includes a trapezoidal earthern mound aligned east-west and
measuring 45m in length by 22m across at the eastern end and narrowing
slightly to 15m at the western end. In height the mound measures c.2m at the
western end rising to c.3m at the broader eastern end. Although no longer
visible at ground level, flanking quarry ditches, from which the material was
quarried during the construction of the monument, run parallel to the north
and south sides of the mound. These have become infilled over the years but
survive as buried features c.2m wide.
The barrow was partially excavated by E B Nunn in 1855 and again in 1935 by
C W Phillips. One cremation and one inhumation were uncovered at the eastern
end of the barrow whilst at the western end two cists and another inhumation
were discovered. Recorded finds included pottery from the Early Bronze Age
and the Early Iron Age, an iron spearhead and a metal band which would have
been fitted to the end of a stick, known as a ferrule, from the Anglo-Saxon
period.

MAP EXTRACT
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

Long barrows were constructed as earthen or drystone mounds with flanking
ditches and acted as funerary monuments during the Early and Middle Neolithic
periods (3400-2400 BC). They represent the burial places of Britain's early
farming communities and, as such, are amongst the oldest field monuments
surviving visibly in the present landscape. Where investigated, long barrows
appear to have been used for communal burial, often with only parts of the
human remains having been selected for interment. Certain sites provide
evidence for several phases of funerary monument preceding the barrow and,
consequently, it is probable that long barrows acted as important ritual sites
for local communities over a considerable period of time. Some 500 long
barrows are recorded in England. As one of the few types of Neolithic
structure to survive as earthworks, and due to their comparative rarity, their
considerable age and their longevity as a monument type, all long barrows are
considered to be nationally important.

Despite partial excavation on two separate occasions, the Therfield Heath
long barrow survives comparatively well in close association with a later
round barrow cemetery. Combined, these give an indication of the development
of later Prehistoric society and the intensity of settlement in this area of
downland.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
NAR No TL 63 SE 9, Information from NAR,
Phillips, C W, PPS Excavation Report, (1935)

Source: Historic England

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