Ancient Monuments

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A group of three bowl barrows and an Anglo-Saxon barrow field on The Bostle

A Scheduled Monument in Woodingdean, Brighton and Hove

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Latitude: 50.8321 / 50°49'55"N

Longitude: -0.0538 / 0°3'13"W

OS Eastings: 537149.191751

OS Northings: 105422.176854

OS Grid: TQ371054

Mapcode National: GBR KQC.R6F

Mapcode Global: FRA B6SW.T0L

Entry Name: A group of three bowl barrows and an Anglo-Saxon barrow field on The Bostle

Scheduled Date: 12 December 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015230

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29235

County: Brighton and Hove

Electoral Ward/Division: Woodingdean

Built-Up Area: Woodingdean

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: Woodingdean Holy Cross

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The monument includes three prehistoric bowl barrows and a later, Anglo-Saxon
barrow field situated on a chalk ridge which forms part of the Sussex Downs.
The most prominent prehistoric barrow lies near the north western edge of the
monument and has a mound c.17m in diameter and up to 0.6m high. This has an
uneven top, indicating some disturbance by animal burrowing and past
excavation. Surrounding the mound is a ditch from which material used to
construct the barrow was excavated. This has become infilled over the years,
but survives as a buried feature up to 2m wide.
Situated 24m to the south is a now mostly levelled prehistoric bowl barrow
with a low, uneven mound c.15m in diameter. The smallest bowl barrow of
the group lies c.20m to the south east and has a mound c.11m in diameter
which survives to a height of up to 0.4m. Both will be surrounded by buried
quarry ditches up to c.2m wide.
The surroundng, later barrow field consists of at least 27 hlaews, or
Anglo-Saxon burial mounds, which can be distinguished from the earlier bowl
barrows by their smaller size. These range from 4m to 7.5m in diameter and
survive to heights of up to 0.3m. The mounds may be surrounded by buried
quarry ditches up to 1m wide. The hlaews situated on the north western, south
western and south eastern edges of the monument have been partly levelled by
modern ploughing, and the south easternmost hlaew has been levelled by long
term use of a downland track which runs along the ridge at this point.
Some of the barrows were excavated in 1939 and 1949, when human burials and
grave goods, or artefacts deliberately buried with the bodies, were
The modern fence which crosses the monument is excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath it 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

Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments
dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most
examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. They were constructed as
earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple
burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often
acted as a focus for burials in later periods. Often superficially similar,
although differing widely in size, they exhibit regional variations in form
and a diversity of burial practices. There are over 10,000 surviving bowl
barrows recorded nationally (many more have already been destroyed), occurring
across most of lowland Britain. Often occupying prominent locations, they are
a major historic element in the modern landscape and their considerable
variation of form and longevity as a monument type provide important
information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisations amongst early
prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period
and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of

Barrow fields are groups of five or more closely-spaced burial mounds dating
to the early medieval period. The usually circular mounds, some of which are
surrounded by an encircling ditch, were constructed over one or more
inhumation burials deposited in east-west aligned, rectangular graves.
Cremation burials, sometimes contained within pottery urns, have also been
found. Many burials were furnished with accompanying grave goods, including
jewellery and weapons, and, at two sites, wooden ships were discovered within
large mounds. Most barrow fields were in use during the pagan Anglo-Saxon
period between the sixth and seventh centuries AD, although barrows dating to
the fifth and eighth centuries AD have also been found. The distribution of
barrow fields is concentrated within south eastern England, particularly in
prominent locations on the Kent and Sussex Downs. However, one Viking barrow
field dating to the late ninth century AD is known in Derbyshire, and both
barrow fields containing known ship burials are located near river estuaries
in Suffolk.
Barrow fields are a rare monument type, with only around 40 examples known
nationally. They provide important and otherwise rare archaeological
information about the social structure, technological development and economic
organisation of the people who constructed and used them. All positively
identified examples with significant surviving remains are considered worthy
of protection.
The three bowl barrows and the later barrow field on The Bostle survive
comparatively well, despite some disturbance by modern ploughing, and part
excavation has shown them to contain archaeological remains and environmental
evidence relating to the construction and use of the monument. The reuse of
the location of the prehistoric barrows for the later, early medieval burials
indicates the continuing importance of this area of downland as a focus for
funerary rites over a period of at least three millenia.

Source: Historic England

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