Ancient Monuments

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Bevis's Thumb long barrow, 370m west of Fernbeds Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Compton, West Sussex

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Latitude: 50.9336 / 50°56'1"N

Longitude: -0.8805 / 0°52'49"W

OS Eastings: 478760.772083

OS Northings: 115504.685125

OS Grid: SU787155

Mapcode National: GBR CD5.D6L

Mapcode Global: FRA 961M.W8J

Entry Name: Bevis's Thumb long barrow, 370m west of Fernbeds Farm

Scheduled Date: 13 April 1949

Last Amended: 4 September 1991

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012179

English Heritage Legacy ID: 12854

County: West Sussex

Civil Parish: Compton

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 a long barrow, known
locally either as Bevis's or Solomon's Thumb, situated on the crest of a
ridge between Fernbeds Down and Telegraph Hill. The mound, one of the
longest in the South East, measures 60m in length, 16m in width at the
western end but only 9m at the eastern end where the road has truncated it.
In height the mound stands 1.6-1.8m above the surrounding level.
The flanking ditches are no longer visible on the surface, but small-scale
excavations in 1980 demonstrated that the ditch survived to a depth of 1.42m
on the south-west side and spanned 7m from side to side. On the north side
of the mound, therefore, the lower levels of the ditch will survive beneath
the metalled road.
During the excavations, which comprised a single slot 1m wide across the
southern flanking ditch, a number of flint tools and animal bones were
recovered, and charcoal from the bottom of the ditch was dated by the
radiocarbon method to 2500-2700BC.
The fencing on the barrow mound and the metalling of the road are excluded
from 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 Neolithic period
(3000 - 2400bc). 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 partial human remains
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

The long barrow known as Bevis's or Solomon's Thumb survives well despite
the disturbance to the northern side by road building and to the south-west
part of the ditch by small-scale excavation. It is therefore of considerable
archaeological potential, evidence being contained not only in the mound and
the flanking ditches but also on the original ground surface beneath the
mound. Its archaeological documentation is above average, and since the
mound is visible from the road the monument is of high amenity value.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Drewett, P, 'Bull Inst Arch' in Rescue Archaeology in Sussex, , Vol. 18, (1981), 21-47
Re Bevis's Thumb long barrow, County monument no 0183,

Source: Historic England

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