Ancient Monuments

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Oval barrow above Charleston Bottom 1080m south east of Chamber's Court

A Scheduled Monument in Cuckmere Valley, East Sussex

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Latitude: 50.7851 / 50°47'6"N

Longitude: 0.1771 / 0°10'37"E

OS Eastings: 553561.914517

OS Northings: 100648.439447

OS Grid: TQ535006

Mapcode National: GBR MTX.PL6

Mapcode Global: FRA C780.DV8

Entry Name: Oval barrow above Charleston Bottom 1080m south east of Chamber's Court

Scheduled Date: 8 January 1979

Last Amended: 9 May 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014385

English Heritage Legacy ID: 12794

County: East Sussex

Civil Parish: Cuckmere Valley

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: Litlington St Michael the Archangel

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


This monument, an oval barrow or burial mound dating from the Neolithic
period, includes both a low earthen mound, oval in shape and up to 0.5m in
height, and a surrounding ditch, now infilled, from which earth and chalk
for the construction of the mound was quarried.
The mound, which is orientated south west-north east, measures some 24m in
length and 16m in width, although this unusual width is partly the result of
erosion which has spread the mound to a significant degree. The former quarry
ditches have been filled and partly covered by soil eroded from the mound
so that it is not possible from surface indications to determine whether the
mound was surrounded by a continuous ditch or flanked by ditches on either
side. Both configurations are known in south east England.
Although this monument does not survive in its original dimensions, its
distinctive oval shape allows it to be classified as a Neolithic burial
mound and indicates that it is likely to have preceded the nearby Bronze Age
round barrow, perhaps by several centuries. Unlike many examples of such
Neolithic monuments, this oval barrow is not sited prominently on a
hill crest or spur but lies instead on gently sloping land above a shallow

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

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

Despite having been reduced in height by agricultural activities and
erosion, the barrow still holds considerable archaeological potential
because the primary burial pit, the old ground surface and the flanking
quarry ditches, each of which contains evidence of the manner and duration
of use of the monument, are likely to survive undisturbed by the plough.

Source: Historic England


TQ 50 SW 62,

Source: Historic England

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