Ancient Monuments

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Long barrow on Harpley Common, 650m ESE of Cross's Grave

A Scheduled Monument in Harpley, Norfolk

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Latitude: 52.7932 / 52°47'35"N

Longitude: 0.682 / 0°40'55"E

OS Eastings: 580934.246667

OS Northings: 325106.012295

OS Grid: TF809251

Mapcode National: GBR Q65.Z34

Mapcode Global: WHKQ9.G200

Entry Name: Long barrow on Harpley Common, 650m ESE of Cross's Grave

Scheduled Date: 21 May 1959

Last Amended: 27 January 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010558

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21343

County: Norfolk

Civil Parish: Harpley

Traditional County: Norfolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Norfolk

Church of England Parish: Harpley St Lawrence

Church of England Diocese: Norwich


The monument includes the remains of a long barrow located on the south side
of the parish boundary between Harpley and West Rudham, on what was formerly
heathland. The site is on level ground at the western edge of the Good Sands
upland region of north west Norfolk. The barrow is visible in part as a
sub-oval earthen mound, standing to a height of c.1.2m and covering an area
with maximum dimensions of c.31m north-south by 23m east-west. This is at
the southern end of a longer mound, the northern part of which has been much
reduced, although the continuation is still marked for a maximum distance of
c.12m by a slight rise of c.0.15m in the ground surface. Beyond this, the
northern end of the barrow has been obscured by the minor road between Harpley
and Weasenham St Peter, which here runs north west-south east along the
southern side of the parish boundary. Since the survival and extent of any
remains beneath and beyond the road have not been established, however, this
part is not included in the scheduling. The mound is surrounded by a ditch
which in 1938, before the heath was ploughed, was visible as a hollow c.4.5m
wide in the ground surface. The overall maximum dimensions of the barrow
south of the road, including the ditch, were recorded at that time as 46m
north-south by 27.5m east-west. The ditch is no longer visible, but will
survive as a buried feature and is included in the scheduling.

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 examples of
long barrows and long cairns, their counterparts in the uplands, are recorded
nationally. 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.

The long barrow on Harpley Common is one of not more than five examples of
this class of monument identified in Norfolk as upstanding earthworks. A
second lies 192m to the north east, and the association between the two gives
both of them additional interest. Although part of the mound has been reduced
and part levelled by the construction of the adjacent road, the barrow retains
archaeological information of importance in itself and in relation to the
information contained in the neighbouring barrow. Evidence for the
construction of the barrow and for the manner and duration of its use, as well
as for the local environment at that time, will be contained in the mound, in
soils preserved beneath the mound and in the buried ditches. The long barrows
are located near a dispersed group of later prehistoric round barrows and,
with these, provide some evidence for the distribution and development of the
prehistoric population of the area.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hogg, A H A, 'Norfolk Archaeology' in A Long Barrow at West Rudham, Norfolk, , Vol. 27, (1941), 315,316
3637: West Norfolk, Harpley,
AM7, (1958)
Clarke, R R, 3637: West Norfolk, Harpley, (1961)

Source: Historic England

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