Ancient Monuments

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Gib Hill oval barrow and bowl barrow

A Scheduled Monument in Hartington Town Quarter, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 53.1668 / 53°10'0"N

Longitude: -1.7646 / 1°45'52"W

OS Eastings: 415833.937306

OS Northings: 363325.698817

OS Grid: SK158633

Mapcode National: GBR 46X.JP8

Mapcode Global: WHCDC.VNWM

Entry Name: Gib Hill oval barrow and bowl barrow

Scheduled Date: 7 August 1916

Last Amended: 15 April 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011088

English Heritage Legacy ID: 11501

County: Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Hartington Town Quarter

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Youlgreave All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Derby


The monument is located 200m south-west of Arbor Low henge in the central
uplands of the limestone plateau of Derbyshire. It includes, within a single
constraint area, a large bowl barrow superimposed on an earlier oval barrow.
The barrows' construction ditches are also included within the monument and
extend approximately 10m on either side.
Associated with the monument, but covered by a separate scheduling, is the
linear bank and ditch which passes through Gib Hill plantation and curves
round the monument 60m to the south-east. In addition, close to the monument
on its north-west side, is a semi-circular quarried feature. This, in the
past, has been suggested to be an unfinished henge. Although the feature has
been partially excavated the results were inconclusive. It may, in fact, be a
modern feature, contemporary with other quarry pits in the vicinity, and has,
therefore, been excluded from the scheduling.
The oval barrow comprises a 2m high mound measuring 27m by 46m. Its long axis
appears to be orientated on Arbor Low henge. The bowl barrow was constructed
on the south-west end of the oval barrow and is a steep-sided sub-circular
mound with a diameter of 24m by 27m and a height of c.3m. A number of partial
excavations of the site have been carried out. The most notable of these were
by William Bateman and Samuel Mitchell in 1824 and by Thomas Bateman in 1848.
Previous investigations were poorly recorded and do not necessarily relate to
Gib Hill. One of these is a possible excavation by the owner, Mr Thornhill, in
1812, when human bones and Roman coins were reputedly found.
During Bateman and Mitchell's excavation, a smaller mound of stiff clay was
found on the old land surface beneath the oval barrow. It measured 3-4 yards
across by 1.5 yards high and contained layers of charcoal and cremated human
bone together with a possible arrowhead and a fragment of polished stone axe.
Within the oval mound itself, Bateman and Mitchell found numerous flints and
an iron brooch. The flints may have been residual; that is to say, part of the
construction material of the mound. The brooch, however, indicates the later
re-use of the barrow, possibly in the Romano-British or Anglian periods.
During his excavation, Thomas Bateman recorded that the oval mound consisted
of limestone and soil. Within it, on the old land surface beneath, he found
four small clay mounds arranged in a square. The clay was mixed with charcoal
and wood, possibly from further cremations, and underneath were found several
flints and ox bones. On the surface of the oval barrow, beneath the later bowl
barrow, he found a square cist or grave containing a cremation and a pottery
food vessel. The latter indicates an Early Bronze Age date for the bowl
barrow. The oval barrow dates to the Neolithic period and may be slightly
later than the mounds underneath, though their precise relationship has yet to
be determined.
Together with Arbor Low, Gib Hill has been in State care since 1884.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 10 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

Gib Hill oval barrow is a large and well-preserved example which has provided
important evidence of a small barrow cemetery located on this site before the
mound was constructed. Although partially excavated, the mound retains
substantial archaeological remains relating to all phases of use, and the
surrounding construction ditches are believed to be intact.
A large bowl barrow is superimposed on the oval barrow.
Bowl barrows are the most numerous form of round barrow and are funerary
monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age. They
were constructed as rubble or earthen mounds, were sometimes ditched, occurred
either in isolation or in barrow cemeteries, and covered single or multiple
burials. There are over 10,000 surviving bowl barrows recorded nationally, and
their longevity and considerable variation of form provides important evidence
on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric
communities throughout Britain. They are particularly representative of their
period and a substantial proportion are considered worthy of protection. Gib
Hill bowl barrow has been partially excavated, but further archaeological
remains survive in the extensive unexcavated areas round the edges of the
mound. Both barrows are an important and integral part of a rich and varied
prehistoric ritual landscape which includes Arbor Low henge and stone circle,
and a number of other barrows.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Barnatt, J, The Peak District Barrow Survey (1989), (1989)
Barnatt, J, The Peak District Barrow Survey (1989), (1989)
Bateman, T, Vestiges of the Antiquities of Derbyshire, (1849)
Bateman, T, Ten Years Diggings in Celtic and Saxon Grave-Hills, (1861)
Radley, J, The Origins of the Arbor Low Monument
Barnatt, J, 'Sheffield Arch. Monograph 1' in The Henges, Stone Circles and Ringcairns of the Peak District, (1990)

Source: Historic England

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