Ancient Monuments

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West Rudham long barrow

A Scheduled Monument in Harpley, Norfolk

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Latitude: 52.7952 / 52°47'42"N

Longitude: 0.6837 / 0°41'1"E

OS Eastings: 581036.499958

OS Northings: 325336.300692

OS Grid: TF810253

Mapcode National: GBR Q65.RNP

Mapcode Global: WHKQ9.G0SG

Entry Name: West Rudham long barrow

Scheduled Date: 19 March 1951

Last Amended: 4 January 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010559

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21344

County: Norfolk

Civil Parish: Harpley

Traditional County: Norfolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Norfolk

Church of England Parish: East with West Rudham

Church of England Diocese: Norwich


The monument includes a long barrow located on heathland 190m north east of
the parish boundary between West Rudham and Harpley. The site is on level
ground at the western edge of the Good Sands upland region of north west
Norfolk. The barrow is visible as a trapezoidal mound measuring c.66m in
length on a NNE-SSW axis and widening from c.16m at the northern end to
c.21m at the southern end. It stands to a maximum height of c.1.5m south of
the mid-point on the axis, shelving gradually to the south and decreasing to
c.1m in the northern half. Along the eastern and western edges of the mound,
slight linear hollows up to 4m wide in the ground surface mark the location of
a surrounding ditch which has become largely infilled but which survives as a
buried feature. The identification of the monument was confirmed and some
details of its structure established by limited excavations carried out in
1937 and 1938 on behalf of the Norfolk Research Committee. The mound was found
to have been built of turves overlain with gravel from the ditch, and beneath
it is an oblong enclosure with internal dimensions of 46m by 16.5m, surrounded
by the ditch which is up to 3.5m wide and c.1.2m deep. The ditch across the
southern end of the enclosure is, however, separated from the ditch around the
other three sides by partial causeways at either end and, unlike the latter,
was entirely covered when the mound was constructed. Within the enclosure, at
the southern end, was an earthen platform c.0.3m in height above the original
ground surface and on the platform was an area discoloured by burning.
Adjoining the southern end of the enclosure, beneath the shelving end of the
mound, is an apsidal enclosure or forecourt area measuring c.11m north-south
by 14m east-west, defined by a smaller ditch, between 0.9m and 2.5m in width
and c.0.45m deep. The principal features observed in this area were a pit
c.0.45m deep, connected to a gully, both being aligned on the longitudinal
axis of the barrow.

A boundary fence which impinges on the southern edge of the monument is
excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it is included.

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.

West Rudham long barrow is the best documented and one of the best preserved
examples of this class of monument out of a maximum of five known to survive
as upstanding earthworks in Norfolk. The limited excavations carried out on
the barrow investigated less than 25% of the area of the barrow as a whole,
which will retain further important archaeological information concerning its
construction and use, including evidence for activity prior to the
construction of the mound. Evidence for the local environment in the Neolithic
period will also be preserved in the soils buried beneath the raised platform
at the southern end of the barrow, in the mound and in the lower fill of the
ditches. A second long barrow is sited c.190m SSW of the monument and the
association between the two gives both of them additional interest and

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hogg, A H A, 'Norfolk Archaeology' in A Long Barrow at West Rudham, Norfolk, , Vol. 27, (1941), 315-331
Sainty, J E, Watson, A Q, Clarke, R R, 'Norfolk Archaeology' in The First Norfolk Long Barrow, , Vol. 26, (1938), 315-329

Source: Historic England

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