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Oval barrow and adjacent bowl barrow, 220m west of Firle Beacon

A Scheduled Monument in Alciston, East Sussex

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Latitude: 50.8336 / 50°50'0"N

Longitude: 0.1049 / 0°6'17"E

OS Eastings: 548320.890453

OS Northings: 105897.089425

OS Grid: TQ483058

Mapcode National: GBR LRX.PB9

Mapcode Global: FRA C63W.NPV

Entry Name: Oval barrow and adjacent bowl barrow, 220m west of Firle Beacon

Scheduled Date: 30 January 1967

Last Amended: 30 May 1991

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013207

English Heritage Legacy ID: 12795

County: East Sussex

Civil Parish: Alciston

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: West Firle St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The monument includes both an oval barrow and an adjacent bowl barrow. Each
includes both an earthen mound and a surrounding ditch, although in both
cases the ditch has been almost completely infilled by a combination of
erosion and agricultural activity. Both mark the sites of burials, the oval
barrow dating from the Neolithic period and therefore older than the bowl
barrow which dates from the Bronze Age. The small gap between the barrow
ditches may have been used for further, unmounded, burials.
The mound of the oval barrow measures 28m in length and 12m in width,
although the presence of a large spoil heap from former partial excavations,
on the south side of the mound, makes measurement difficult. At most the
mound stands 1.6m above the level of the surrounding land.
The ditch surrounding the mound was more clearly visible earlier this
century than it is now. The ditch measures some 3m across and can now be
seen only as a very shallow depression flanking either side of the mound. A
break in the ditch towards the south-east end was visible in former years
but is no longer discernible.
The neighbouring bowl barrow takes the form of a circular mound 5m in
diameter and 40cm in max. height. The encircling ditch is no longer visible
in this case. The depression in its top shows it to have been partially
excavated also, the spoil having been added to that of the oval
barrow mound. The fencing around the monuments, where it lies within the
constraint area, is 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

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

The adjacent Bowl barrow is an example of the most numerous form of round
barrow, over 10,000 examples surviving nationally. It too is a funerary
monument, although it was constructed in a later period than the Oval
barrow -- 2000-1500bc. Such a small example as this is likely to have
covered a single burial. The proximity of these two burial mounds adds to
the importance of the site because it illustrates well the changing mode of
burial between the periods and also because it provides an example of a
location selected for burial in one period being reused for a similar
purpose in a later period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Toms, H S, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in The Long Barrows of Sussex, , Vol. 63, (1922), 157-65
TQ40 NE22,
TQ40 NE23,

Source: Historic England

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