Ancient Monuments

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Spellow Hills long barrow

A Scheduled Monument in Langton by Spilsby, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 53.2285 / 53°13'42"N

Longitude: 0.0981 / 0°5'53"E

OS Eastings: 540153.961479

OS Northings: 372215.383151

OS Grid: TF401722

Mapcode National: GBR KTW.MMV

Mapcode Global: WHJLR.G3YS

Entry Name: Spellow Hills long barrow

Scheduled Date: 23 August 1934

Last Amended: 5 February 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013919

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27856

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Langton by Spilsby

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Langton-by-Partney St Peter and St Paul

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a Neolithic long
barrow located about 82m above sea level, on a southern slope above and to the
west of the A16 Alford-Spilsby road, c.500m south east of Langton Grange Farm.
The barrow, known as Spellow Hills, or Hills of the Slain, was originally
thought to be three adjoining round barrows, an impression given by the
extremely uneven surface, caused by antiquarian excavations in the 19th
century or earlier. It is aligned SSE-NNW and is roughly trapezoidal in shape,
measuring approximately 55m long by 12m wide, the maximum height being c.2.1m.
Material for the mound would have been quarried from an encircling causewayed
ditch. This is not visible but is thought to survive buried beneath the
present ground surface. No written account of the antiquarian investigations
has survived other than a reference in White's Lincolnshire Directory of 1882
which refers to a quantity of human bones having been discovered there. The
barrow is known to have had its present appearance when it was documented by
Stukeley in the 18th century. Two trenches have been cut into the mound from
the north east but neither reach the original ground surface, or the south
west side of the earthwork. Inroads into the mound have also been made at two
points on the north eastern flank, in the centre and at the southern end of
the mound, and there has been quarrying into the western flank from the north

Oral tradition has preserved various accounts of the origins and use of the
Spellow Hills barrow, one of which suggests that an intrusive burial of Anglo-
Saxon date was discovered prior to 1855.

A second long barrow, identified from aerial photographic survey in the
vicinity of Spellow Hills, and situated c.300m to the south west, is the
subject of a separate scheduling. It is thought that these monuments form part
of a group of long barrows associated with the valley of one of the
tributaries of the River Lymn.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 10 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.

Spellow Hills long barrow is a substantial and prominent earthwork whose
distinctive profile has long been a notable feature in the landscape. Although
antiquarian excavations have disturbed the monument, much valuable
archaeological information will be preserved beneath the mound and in
the fills of the ditch, relating both to the monument's dating construction
and to the sequence of burial ritual at the site. Environmental evidence
preserved in the same deposits will illustrate the appearance of the landscape
in which the monument was set. The monument will also provide insights into
the particular concerns of early antiquarian investigators.
Spellow Hills is one of a number of similar monuments which are associated
with a tributary of the River Lymn. These locational associations pose wider
questions concerning the ritual nature of the area and have significant
implications for the study of communication, settlement patterns and
demography during the Neolithic period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Meaney, A L, 'Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society' in Gazetteer Of Hundred And Wapentake Meeting-Places In Cambs. 1992-3, , Vol. 82, (1993), 67-93
Phillips, C W, 'Archaeological Journal' in The Long Barrows of Lincolnshire, , Vol. 89, (1933), 193-6

Source: Historic England

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