Ancient Monuments

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Top Buildings long barrow

A Scheduled Monument in Thoresway, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 53.4522 / 53°27'7"N

Longitude: -0.2942 / 0°17'39"W

OS Eastings: 513373.285683

OS Northings: 396402.345901

OS Grid: TF133964

Mapcode National: GBR VXDJ.36

Mapcode Global: WHHJ8.GH4B

Entry Name: Top Buildings long barrow

Scheduled Date: 14 January 1969

Last Amended: 12 January 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013887

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27855

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Thoresway

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Normanby-le-Wold St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a Neolithic long
barrow located 160m above sea level in an area of pasture on a plateau c.60m
to the east of Top Buildings. The grassy mound is aligned south east-north
west and is oval in shape, measuring approximately 65m long by 20m wide,
standing to about 1.5m at its highest point in the centre. The barrow is
however known from geophysical survey to have originally been larger,
approximately 78m long by 42m wide, so the present barrow represents the spine
of the mound. Although the ditch is infilled, its existence is indicated by
the field boundary fence which runs over the south eastern end of the barrow,
dipping very slightly on either side at a distance of approximately 10m from
the foot of the mound.
In 1983 the monument was the subject of limited archaeological investigations
which were inconclusive due to adverse soil conditions. However, a small
quantity of worked flint was found.
The monument stands about 340m to the south west of the prehistoric trackway
now formalised as High Street. It is one of a large number of Neolithic and
Bronze Age burial monuments associated with the head of the Otby Beck valley.
The fence and fenceposts are excluded from the scheduling but the ground
beneath them 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

Long barrows were constructed as earthen or drystone mounds, generally with
flanking ditches. They acted as funerary monuments during the Early and Middle
Neolithic periods (3400-2400 BC), representing the burial places of Britain's
early farming communities, and as such are amongst the oldest field monuments
surviving in the present landscape. Where investigated, long barrows appear to
have been used for communal burial, often with only parts of the human remains
having been selected for interment. Certain sites provide evidence for several
phases of funerary activities preceding the construction of the barrow mound,
including ditched enclosures containing structures related to various rituals
of burial. It is probable, therefore, that long barrows acted as important
spiritual sites for their local communities over considerable periods of time.
The long barrows of the Lincolnshire Wolds and their adjacent regions have
been identified as a distinct regional grouping of monuments in which the
flanking ditches are continued around the ends of the barrow mound, either
continuously or broken by a single causeway towards one end. More than 60
examples of this type of monument are known; a small number of these survive
as earthworks, but the great majority of sites are known as cropmarks and
soilmarks recorded on aerial photographs where no mound is evident at the
Not all Lincolnshire long barrows include mounds. Current limited
understanding of the processes of Neolithic mortuary ritual in Lincolnshire is
that the large barrow mound represents the final phase of construction which
was not reached by all mortuary monuments. Many of the sites where only the
ditched enclosure is known have been interpreted as representing monuments
which had fully evolved mounds, but in which the mound itself has been
degraded or removed by subsequent agricultural activity. In a minority of
cases, however, the ditched enclosure will represent a monument which never
developed a burial mound.
As a distinctive regional grouping of one of the few types of Neolithic
monuments known, these sites are of great value. They were all in use over a
great period of time and are thus highly representive of changing cultures of
the peoples who built and maintained them. All forms of long barrow on the
Lincolnshire Wolds and its adjacent regions are therefore considered to be of
national importance and all examples with significant surviving remains are
considered worthy of protection.

Although the mound of Top Buildings long barrow has been degraded, it survives
as a substantial earthwork visible from the nearby road. The limited
archaeological investigations of 1983 were inconclusive but a small quantity
of worked flint was found, demonstrating that the land around the mound was a
focus of attention and activity during the Neolithic period. No other
excavation is known to have taken place and the monument is therefore thought
to retain significant rare archaeological deposits which will provide
information regarding the construction of the mound, and the chronological
sequence of burial rites. Environmental evidence will also survive beneath the
mound and in the buried ground surface and the ditch which will provide
valuable information relating to the landscape in which the monument was
constructed and used.
Top Buildings long barrow is one of a number of burial monuments associated
with the valley of the Otby Beck which rises in the nearby Normanby Dales, and
with the prehistoric trackway now formalised as High Street. The association
of these monuments demonstrates the ritual significance of this chosen
location and poses wider questions concerning prehistoric settlement patterns
in the area.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Phillips, P, 'BAR' in Archaeology and Landscape Studies in North Lincolnshire, , Vol. 208(i), (1989), 173-179
Text, Ancient Monuments: Lincolnshire Lindsey, (1968)

Source: Historic England

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