Ancient Monuments

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Oval barrow on Cliffe Hill 200m south of Bridgwick Pit

A Scheduled Monument in Lewes, East Sussex

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Latitude: 50.8808 / 50°52'50"N

Longitude: 0.0334 / 0°2'0"E

OS Eastings: 543142.080612

OS Northings: 111000.225993

OS Grid: TQ431110

Mapcode National: GBR LR7.P8C

Mapcode Global: FRA B6YS.4TL

Entry Name: Oval barrow on Cliffe Hill 200m south of Bridgwick Pit

Scheduled Date: 9 October 1981

Last Amended: 17 May 1991

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013167

English Heritage Legacy ID: 12792

County: East Sussex

Civil Parish: Lewes

Built-Up Area: Lewes

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: St Michael South Malling

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The monument on Cliffe Hill includes an oval barrow of Neolithic date. It
comprises not only the highly visible earthen mound but also the largely
infilled ditches which flank the mound.
The mound itself is orientated SE-NW, measures 32m in length, 18m in width
and survives to an impressive 3m above the level of the surrounding land at
the higher NW end. Even where an old partial excavation has caused a
pronounced hollow in the top of the mound, approximately half-way along its
length, the mound remains nearly 2m high. This excavation scar occupies the
central 6m of the mound, and the spoil from the trench lies heaped on the SW
side of the mound causing it to bulge significantly.
The crescent-shaped flanking ditches are visible on both sides of the mound,
although less so on the western side where the old spoil heap obscures the
ditch. Their positions are marked by depressions 5m across and up to 1
deep, and each extends the full length of the mound. Their ends are
separated by causeways 12m in width. These ditches, originally much deeper
than at present, would have provided the earth and chalk for the
construction of the mound.
On the western side of the mound, a linear raised area of turf marks the
position of a water-pipe which terminates at a stop-cock and metal cover
near the NW end of the mound. This water-pipe, the earth immediately over it
and the metal stop-cock cover are excluded from the scheduling although the
ground beneath is included.

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

This example is one of the best surviving oval barrows yet identified in the
South-East. Since most of the monument survives intact it remains of high
archaeological potential despite the former attentions of antiquarian

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Toms, H S, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in The Long Barrows of Sussex, , Vol. 63, (1922), 157-9
TQ41 SW20,

Source: Historic England

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