Ancient Monuments

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Barrow field on Breach Down, Derringstone

A Scheduled Monument in Barham, Kent

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Latitude: 51.1974 / 51°11'50"N

Longitude: 1.1572 / 1°9'25"E

OS Eastings: 620673.059472

OS Northings: 148977.996556

OS Grid: TR206489

Mapcode National: GBR TZ4.Z87

Mapcode Global: VHLH2.05LF

Entry Name: Barrow field on Breach Down, Derringstone

Scheduled Date: 6 July 1937

Last Amended: 11 May 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012967

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25499

County: Kent

Civil Parish: Barham

Built-Up Area: Barham

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent


The monument includes an Anglo-Saxon barrow field which comprises a group of
at least 19 hlaews, or burial mounds, covering an area of around 0.45ha,
situated along a narrow, roughly north-south aligned spur of the Kent Downs.
To the south east is the most prominent hlaew, known locally as Mount Sinai.
This has a bowl-shaped mound measuring around 14m in diameter and up to 2m
high. A central hollow and further disturbance on the southern side of the
mound indicates that it has been partially excavated some time in the past.
Surrounding the mound is a ditch from which material used to construct the
hlaew was excavated. This has become infilled over the years but survives as a
buried feature around 2m wide.

Lying to the north west are at least 18 further hlaews with roughly circular
mounds measuring between 5m-10m in diameter. Most of these show signs of
partial excavation and survive to heights of between 0.4m-1.5m. The mounds are
surrounded by buried quarry ditches measuring between 1m-2m wide. Seven hlaews
have been partially disturbed by the construction of modern tracks, and the
profiles of several have been partly obscured by the dumping of modern
construction waste and garden refuse.

The barrow field was partially excavated in 1809 and again during the 1840's,
at which time over 100 visible barrows were recorded in this area of downland.
Each mound excavated was found to have been constructed over a west-east
aligned, rectangular grave cut into the underlying chalk bedrock. The graves
contained extended human burials, many accompanied by grave goods, or
artefacts deliberately deposited with the body. These mainly dated to the
period between the sixth and early eighth centuries AD, although some earlier,
Romano-British objects were also found.

The modern surfaces of all tracks and paths which cross the monument are
excluded from the scheduling, as are the modern electricity poles situated
within the monument, although the ground beneath these features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Barrow fields are groups of between five and 300 closely-spaced hlaews, or
burial mounds, dating to the early medieval period. The usually circular
mounds, some of which are surrounded by an encircling ditch, were constructed
of earth and rubble and covered one or more inhumation burials. These were
deposited in west-east aligned, rectangular graves cut into the underlying
bedrock. Cremation burials, sometimes deposited in pottery urns, have also
been found. Many burials were furnished with accompanying grave goods,
including jewellery and weapons, and, at two sites, wooden ships were
discovered within large mounds. Most barrow fields were in use during the
pagan Anglo-Saxon period between the sixth and seventh centuries AD, although
barrows dating to the fifth and eight centuries AD have also been found.
The distribution of barrow fields is concentrated within south eastern
England, particularly in prominent locations on the Kent and Sussex Downs.
However, one Viking barrow field dating to the late ninth century AD is known
in Derbyshire, and both barrow fields containing known ship burials are
located near river estuaries in Suffolk.
Barrow fields are a rare monument type, with only around 40 examples known
nationally. They provide important and otherwise rare archaeological
information about the social structure, technological development and economic
oganisation of the people who constructed and used them. All positively
identified examples with significant surviving remains are considered worthy
of protection.

Although the barrow field on Derringstone Downs has been partially disturbed
by past ploughing, the construction of modern tracks and gardens, and by scrub
growth, it survives well when compared to similar sites elsewhere, and has
been shown by partial excavation to contain archaeological remains and
environmental evidence.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Jessup, R F, Taylor, M V, The Victoria History of the County of Kent, (1932), 145
Jessup, R F, Taylor, M V, The Victoria History of the County of Kent, (1932), 145
Meaney, A L S, Gazetteer of Early Anglo-Saxon Burial Sites, (1964), 111
Meaney, A L S, Gazetteer of Early Anglo-Saxon Burial Sites, (1964), 111
Meaney, A L S, Gazetteer of Early Anglo-Saxon Burial Sites, (1964), 111
Smith, R A, The Victoria History of the County of Kent, (1908), 348-349
Smith, R A, The Victoria History of the County of Kent, (1908), 348-9

Source: Historic England

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