Ancient Monuments

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High Street Green Roman barrow

A Scheduled Monument in Adeyfield East, Hertfordshire

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Latitude: 51.7645 / 51°45'52"N

Longitude: -0.4485 / 0°26'54"W

OS Eastings: 507162.700778

OS Northings: 208453.513018

OS Grid: TL071084

Mapcode National: GBR G6N.7FX

Mapcode Global: VHFS0.5XQ6

Entry Name: High Street Green Roman barrow

Scheduled Date: 23 August 1934

Last Amended: 24 December 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015578

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27901

County: Hertfordshire

Electoral Ward/Division: Adeyfield East

Built-Up Area: Hemel Hempstead

Traditional County: Hertfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hertfordshire

Church of England Parish: St Barnabas, Adeyfield, Hemel Hempstead

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans


The monument includes a well preserved Roman barrow situated within an area of
urban development immediately to the west of High Street Green, some 100m
south of its junction with Queensway and Redbourn Road in Hemel Hempstead.
The barrow mound, which is slightly oval in shape, measures c.20m north-south
and 24m east-west, standing to a height of 1.8m. A roughly circular
depression in the summit of the mound is approximately 1m deep and c.4.5m
across, and indicates that limited investigation of the monument occured
although no records survive. The encircling ditch from which the mound was
quarried is now partly infilled but slight traces can be seen particularly on
the south and east sides.

The barrow is considered to have been constructed during the period of the
Roman occupation of Britain, an interpretation strengthened by the discovery
of a number of significant Roman sites in the area, including the substantial
villa in Gadebridge Park, some 2.2km to the west, and the extensive temple
complex at Wood Lane End, c.1.25km to the south east. Both these monuments
are the subject of separate schedulings.

Burial mounds of this period were often placed alongside roads. The monument
was formerly surrounded by open countryside, in a commanding position at the
western end of a prominent ridge, a location no doubt chosen for its close
proximity to the Roman road now overlain by High Street Green.

The railings and posts enclosing the monument are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Earthen barrows are the most visually spectacular survivals of a wide variety
of funerary monuments in Britain dating to the Roman period. Constructed as
steep-sided conical mounds, usually of considerable size and occasionally with
an encircling bank or ditch, they covered one or more burials, generally
believed to be those of high-ranking individuals. The burials were mainly
cremations, although inhumations have been recorded, and were often deposited
with accompanying grave goods in chambers or cists constructed of wood, tile
or stone sealed beneath the barrow mound. Occasionally the mound appears to
have been built directly over a funeral pyre. The barrows usually occur
singly, although they can be grouped into "cemeteries" of up to ten examples.
They are sited in a variety of locations but often occur near Roman roads. A
small number of barrows were of particularly elaborate construction, with
masonry revetment walls or radial internal walls. Roman barrows are rare
nationally, with less than 150 recorded examples, and are generally restricted
to lowland England with the majority in East Anglia. The earliest examples
date to the first decades of the Roman occupation and occur mainly within this
East Anglian concentration. It has been suggested that they are the graves of
native British aristocrats who chose to perpetuate aspects of Iron Age burial
practice. The majority of the barrows were constructed in the early second
century AD but by the end of that century the fashion for barrow building
appears to have ended. Occasionally the barrows were re-used when secondary
Anglo-Saxon burials were dug into the mound. Many barrows were subjected to
cursory investigation by antiquarians in the 19th century and, as little
investigation to modern standards has taken place, they remain generally
poorly understood. As a rare monument type which exhibits a wide diversity of
burial tradition all Roman barrows, unless significantly damaged, are
identified as nationally important.

The High Street Green Roman barrow stands as a substantial earthwork mound
clearly visible from the adjacent highway. The surrounding urban development
has made little impact on the monument and, although it has been slightly
disturbed by past investigation, it remains largely intact.

Valuable archaeological evidence, including funerary remains, will survive
within the mound and the fills of the encircling ditch, containing information
relating to the dating and period of use of the barrow, the method of its
construction and the mortuary rituals of its builders. Environmental evidence
preserved in the same features and on the old ground surface beneath the mound
may illustrate the nature of the landscape in which the monument was set.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Neal, S, 'Reports of the Research Committee of the Society of Antiquaries' in The Excavation of the Roman Villa in Gadebridge Park 1963-8, , Vol. XXX1, (1974), 2-3
text, C F Wardale, (1962)

Source: Historic England

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