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Bowl barrow reused as moot mound in Barkhale Wood

A Scheduled Monument in Madehurst, West Sussex

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Latitude: 50.9026 / 50°54'9"N

Longitude: -0.6072 / 0°36'26"W

OS Eastings: 498030.053496

OS Northings: 112383.112326

OS Grid: SU980123

Mapcode National: GBR FHK.99K

Mapcode Global: FRA 96MQ.78K

Entry Name: Bowl barrow reused as moot mound in Barkhale Wood

Scheduled Date: 1 June 1961

Last Amended: 10 July 1991

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012263

English Heritage Legacy ID: 12843

County: West Sussex

Civil Parish: Madehurst

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Sussex


The monument in Barkhale Wood, formerly interpreted as the site of a Norman
motte castle, includes a Bronze Age bowl barrow and its surrounding quarry
ditch. That the barrow has been modified in the early medieval or medieval
period to form a moot mound is signified by the broad, shallow depression in
the top of the mound.
The barrow mound is circular in plan and measures some 23m in diameter. It
stands 2.2m above the level of the surrounding ground. The surrounding ditch
is visible only on the south and south-east sides, having been largely
infilled by eroded soil from the mound and by leaf litter. Where it is
visible, the ditch measures some 2.5m across.
The shallow, bowl-shaped depression in the interior was created when the
barrow was adapted for use as a moot. This depression is 0.4m deep and 10m
in diameter.
The Barkhale Wood barrow appears to have been chosen for conversion into a
moot mound as it lies at the junction between the parishes of Bignor, Bury,
Houghton and Madehurst, the parishes over which the moot court had
jurisdiction. The position of the parish boundaries may in fact, have been
influenced by the location of the earlier barrow.

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

Moots were open-air meeting places set aside for use by courts and other
bodies who were responsible for the administration and organisation of the
countryside in Anglo-Saxon and medieval England. They were located at
convenient, conspicuous or well-known sites, often centrally placed within the
area under jurisdiction, usually a hundred, wapentake, or shire. The meeting
place could take several forms: a natural feature such as a hilltop, tree or
rock; existing man-made features such as prehistoric standing stones, barrows
or hillforts; or a purpose-built monument such as a mound. Moots appear to
have been first established during the early medieval period between the
seventh and ninth centuries AD. Examples are recorded in the Domesday Book and
other broadly contemporary documents. Initially, moots were situated in open
countryside but, over time, they were relocated in villages or towns. The
construction and use of rural moots declined after the 13th century. The
normal form of purpose-built moot was the moot mound. These take the form of
large, squat, turf-covered mounds with a flat or concave top, usually
surrounded by a ditch. Occasionally, prehistoric barrows were remodelled to
provide suitable sites. It is estimated that there were between 250 and 1000
moots in medieval England, although only a limited number of these were man-
made mounds and only a proportion of these survive today. Moots are generally
a poorly understood class of monument with considerable potential to provide
information on the organisation and administration of land units in the Middle
Ages. They are a comparatively rare and long-lived type of monument and the
earliest examples will be amongst a very small range of sites predating the
Norman Conquest which survive as monumental earthworks and readily appreciable
landscape features. On this basis, all well preserved or historically well
documented moot mounds are identified as nationally important.

The barrow in Barkhale Wood which was converted to form the moot belongs to
the most numerous type of round barrow and dates from the Late Neolithic or
Bronze Age period. Bowl barrows covered burials of individuals or small
groups, and can contribute to an understanding of the beliefs and social
organisation of early prehistoric communities. The adaptation of the barrow
illustrates one way in which prominent places in the landscape were adopted
for moots. The barrow retains considerable potential despite its later reuse.

Source: Historic England


Darvill, T, Monument Class Description - Bowl barrows, 1988,
Monument Class Description - Moot Mounds, (1989)
WS Site No.,

Source: Historic England

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