Ancient Monuments

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Long mortuary enclosure on Tennyson Down, 800m west of Freshwater Bay House

A Scheduled Monument in Freshwater, Isle of Wight

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Latitude: 50.6688 / 50°40'7"N

Longitude: -1.5255 / 1°31'31"W

OS Eastings: 433627.183051

OS Northings: 85567.661539

OS Grid: SZ336855

Mapcode National: GBR 792.YZV

Mapcode Global: FRA 77P9.PHZ

Entry Name: Long mortuary enclosure on Tennyson Down, 800m west of Freshwater Bay House

Scheduled Date: 7 April 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015623

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22067

County: Isle of Wight

Civil Parish: Freshwater

Built-Up Area: Freshwater

Traditional County: Hampshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Isle of Wight

Church of England Parish: Freshwater All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Portsmouth


The monument includes a long mortuary enclosure on an east facing hillside
overlooking the sea on the south west coast of the Isle of Wight.
The mortuary enclosure, seen as an oval earthwork aligned east-west, has a
central area 24m east-west and 9m north-south. Surrounding this area is a bank
5m wide and 0.25m high, when measured from inside the enclosure, with a gap
2.5m wide on the east side. Surrounding the internal bank on its east, west
and south sides, is a ditch 4m wide and 0.4m deep. The height from the bottom
of the ditch to the top of the bank is 0.5m, and there is a gap in the ditch
on the east side corresponding to the gap in the internal bank. On the north
side of the monument the ditch appears as an extended shallow pit which blends
into the contours of the hillside with no obvious north edge.
In 1989 Mr F Basford recut and examined a section revealed by a World War II
trench bisecting the monument. A sample of wood charcoal sieved from the
primary infill of the flanking ditch of the monument gave a radiocarbon date
of 3980 +/- 70 years BP. This date calibrates to approximately 2865 to 2290
cal BC.

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 mortuary enclosures are oblong-shaped enclosures up to 150m in length,
surrounded by narrow, fairly straight ditches with slightly rounded corners,
containing an open space edged by a perimeter bank set within the ditch.
Characteristically there are two or more major causeways across the ditch
which served as entrances. Most long mortuary enclosures are orientated
within 45 degrees of an east-west alignment. Long mortuary enclosures are
generally associated with human burials dated to the Early and Middle
Neolithic periods (c.3200-2500 BC). There are approximately 35 examples
recorded in England. The greatest concentration lies in Essex and Suffolk,
but there are also examples along the Thames and in Warwickshire along the
Avon; two isolated examples have been recorded in Northumberland. Long
mortuary enclosures are very rare nationally and all surviving examples are
considered worthy of protection.

The long mortuary enclosure on Tennyson Down on the Isle of Wight survives
well, and is known from limited excavation to contain archaeological and
environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it
was constructed. This mortuary enclosure is the only recorded example of its
class on the Isle of Wight, and is the most southerly example recorded in

Source: Historic England


OxA 3076 Date list, RadioCarbon, (1992)

Source: Historic England

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