Ancient Monuments

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Oval barrow, the south-eastern of two on Stoughton Down

A Scheduled Monument in West Dean, West Sussex

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Latitude: 50.902 / 50°54'7"N

Longitude: -0.8304 / 0°49'49"W

OS Eastings: 482342.499673

OS Northings: 112047.163508

OS Grid: SU823120

Mapcode National: GBR DFY.6XD

Mapcode Global: FRA 964Q.J9X

Entry Name: Oval barrow, the south-eastern of two on Stoughton Down

Scheduled Date: 2 August 1955

Last Amended: 31 March 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010919

English Heritage Legacy ID: 12852

County: West Sussex

Civil Parish: West Dean

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Sussex

Church of England Parish: Octagon

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The monument includes the mound and flanking ditches of an oval barrow
located just west of the crest of Stoughton Down. The mound measures some
24m in length and 15m in width at the widest point. It stands at most around
2m above the level of the surrounding ground. Although the ditches are not
now visible on the surface, when the barrow was surveyed in 1925 they were
clearly seen to flank the long sides of the mound and to turn inwards at the
ends. They did not join at the ends but remained as separate features some
3m in width at the surface.
A slot 0.5m wide was cut across the ditch of the barrow in 1980 to confirm
the presence of the ditch, during which excavation several flint tools were

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

Oval barrows are funerary and ceremonial monuments of the Early to Middle
Neolithic periods, with the majority of dated monuments belonging to the later
part of the range. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds of
roughly elliptical plan, usually delimited by quarry ditches. These ditches
can vary from paired "banana-shaped" ditches flanking the mound to "U-shaped"
or unbroken oval ditches nearly or wholly encircling it. Along with the long
barrows, oval barrows 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, oval barrows have
produced two distinct types of burial rite: communal burials of groups of
individuals, including adults and children, laid directly on the ground
surface before the barrow was built; and burials of one or two adults interred
in a grave pit centrally placed beneath the barrow mound. Certain sites
provide evidence for several phases of funerary monument preceding the barrow
and, consequently, it is probable that they may have acted as important ritual
sites for local communities over a considerable period of time. Similarly, as
the filling of the ditches around oval barrows often contains deliberately
placed deposits of pottery, flintwork and bone, periodic ceremonial activity
may have taken place at the barrow subsequent to its construction. Oval
barrows are very rare nationally, with less than 50 recorded examples in
England. As one of the few types of Neolithic structure to survive as
earthworks, and due to their rarity, their considerable age and their
longevity as a monument type, all oval barrows are considered to be nationally

Although the oval barrow on Stoughton Down has been disturbed by rabbits and
by partial excavation, and slightly truncated by agricultural activities, it
nevertheless survives well and retains considerable archaeological potential
for the recovery of evidence of the manner and duration of its use. Its
proximity to another similar barrow, an unusual grouping for this type of
monument, adds to its importance and illustrates the significance of the
locality for burials in the Neolithic period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Drewett, P, Rescue archaeology in Sussex, 198021-47
County Site No. 0934,

Source: Historic England

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