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Giants Hills, a Neolithic long barrow 575m north west of Lodge Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Skendleby, Lincolnshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.2178 / 53°13'4"N

Longitude: 0.1384 / 0°8'18"E

OS Eastings: 542873.852447

OS Northings: 371106.511972

OS Grid: TF428711

Mapcode National: GBR KV3.CSK

Mapcode Global: WHJLS.3D40

Entry Name: Giants Hills, a Neolithic long barrow 575m north west of Lodge Farm

Scheduled Date: 30 August 1934

Last Amended: 31 January 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014832

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27866

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Skendleby

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Skendleby St Peter and St Paul

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln

Details

The monument includes the partly reconstructed earthwork and buried remains of
a Neolithic long barrow located 72m above sea level on the slope of a chalk
ridge, abutting the south western boundary of a cultivated field 575m north
west of Lodge Farm. It is aligned north west-south east and is approximately
75m long by 35m wide, standing to a height of c.1.3m.

The barrow was the subject of pioneering archaeological investigations in
1933, making a major contribution to our basic understanding of English long
barrows, in particular the characterisation of the long barrows of the
Lincolnshire Wolds as a distinctive regional group. The work demonstrated
that, while the mortuary practices of the barrow builders bore a similarity to
those previously investigated on the Yorkshire Wolds, Giants Hill did not have
the long, flanking ditches which were considered to be typical of the monument
type. Instead, the ditch was shown to enclose the mound completely except for
a causeway to the north west, a feature which is now known to be a typical
feature of many Lincolnshire long barrows. Radiocarbon dating applied to the
finds in the 1950s indicates that the monument's construction began around
2970 BC while Beaker pottery found within the mound demonstrates that the
monument continued in use into the later Neolithic period. This very long
period of construction and use - c.1000 years - began with an enclosure set
aside for mortuary activities. This enclosure, which contained evidence for
hurdlework partitions, may have been used for the exposure of human remains,
or it may have been the final resting place of remains exposed elsewhere. The
skeletons of eight individuals were discovered, together with a quantity of
bone fragments. The final phase was the construction of a substantial mound
over the enclosure, material for this being quarried from the surrounding
ditch. Pottery found in the ditch also demonstrates that the monument
continued to be a focus of attention and activity during the Bronze and Iron
Ages.
Portions of the mound and the ditch were left unexcavated for further study.
The mound was reconstructed to its present appearance.
The long barrow is one of a group of four such monuments, three others of
which form the subject of separate schedulings, all situated within 1km of
each other along the eastern edge of the Skendleby Bank, and adjacent to the
Bluestone Heath Road which is thought to have originated as a prehistoric
trackway later overlain by the course of a Roman road.
All fences and fenceposts are excluded from the scheduling, although the
ground beneath them is included.

MAP EXTRACT
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
surface.
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 Neolithic long barrow known as Giants Hills has been partly
excavated and rebuilt, it remains a notable monument in the landscape.
References to it appear in all textual works dealing with the Neolithic period
particularly since it was one of the earliest examples to be dated by
radiocarbon methods, and it is frequently used for both national and regional
comparisons. Although the investigations of 1933 were extensive, portions of
the mound and ditch were left unexcavated, and it is known from other sites
that re-excavation using modern scientific techniques would yield valuable
information which was not recoverable by earlier archaeologists. Giants Hills
will, therefore, still contain important archaeological evidence relating to
the sequence of mortuary ritual at the site, together with organic deposits
which will extend the prehistoric environmental record.
Giants Hills close proximity to three other similar monuments is indicative
of the ritual significance of this location on the Skendleby Bank. The
frequency of these burial mounds has particular implications for the study of
demography and settlement patterns during the Neolithic period.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Renfrew, C (ed), British Prehistory, (1976), 131
Phillips, C W, 'Archaeologia' in Excavation of Giants' Hills Long Barrow, Skendleby, Lincs., , Vol. 85, (1936), 37-106

Source: Historic England

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