Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Field system and bowl barrow on Pitts Down, 500m south east of Pitts Cottages

A Scheduled Monument in Calbourne, Isle of Wight

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Latitude: 50.6708 / 50°40'14"N

Longitude: -1.3939 / 1°23'38"W

OS Eastings: 442924.411128

OS Northings: 85858.504156

OS Grid: SZ429858

Mapcode National: GBR 8BL.VSZ

Mapcode Global: FRA 77Z9.DSY

Entry Name: Field system and bowl barrow on Pitts Down, 500m south east of Pitts Cottages

Scheduled Date: 6 August 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016005

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26841

County: Isle of Wight

Civil Parish: Calbourne

Traditional County: Hampshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Isle of Wight

Church of England Parish: Calbourne All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Portsmouth


The monument includes an extensive field system, within which lies a bowl
barrow, lying on the south and west facing slopes of Pitts Down 500m south
east of Pitts Cottage.
The fields are based on an extensive system of well defined, regular and
substantial cross slope lynchets up to 2.5m in height. These, together with
regular down slope banks, form a layout of rectangular fields of varying size.
The comparatively large size of some downslope banks suggests that they may
incorporate earlier earthwork boundaries. In the southern part of the monument
the area of strongly defined fields terminates at a lynchet which runs
obliquely across the hill slope. Beyond this, surviving lynchets are less
pronounced, the result of either less intensive cultivation or of later
erosion by ploughing. A small bowl barrow lies close to the crest of Pitts
Down where it has been integrated with the overall layout of the field system.
Further barrows may be incorporated within some of the pronounced rounded
field corners which are a distinctive feature of this field system.
The north western side of the monument is defined by a lynchet which now
corresponds with a modern field boundary. Beyond this are further traces of
the field system which have been levelled by cultivation and are not included
within the scheduling.
All fence posts and water troughs are excluded from the scheduling although
the ground beneath these features 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

Regular aggregate field systems date from the Bronze Age (2000-700 BC) to the
end of the fifth century AD. They usually cover areas of up to 100ha and
comprise a discrete block of fields orientated in roughly the same direction,
with the field boundaries laid out along two axes set at right angles to one
another. Individual fields generally fall within the 0.1ha-3.2ha range and can
be square, rectangular, long and narrow, triangular or polygonal in shape. The
field boundaries can take various forms (including drystone walls or reaves,
orthostats, earth and rubble banks, pit alignments, ditches, fences and
lynchets) and follow straight or sinuous courses. Component features common to
most systems include entrances and trackways, and the settlements or
farmsteads from which people utilised the fields over the years have been
identified in some cases. These are usually situated close to or within the
field system.
The development of field systems is seen as a response to the competition for
land which began during the later prehistoric period. The majority are thought
to have been used mainly for crop production, evidenced by the common
occurrence of lynchets resulting from frequent ploughing, although rotation
may also have been practised in a mixed farming economy. Regular aggregate
field systems occur widely and have been recorded in south western and south
eastern England, East Anglia, Cheshire, Cumbria, Nottinghamshire, North and
South Yorkshire and Durham. They represent a coherent economic unit often
utilised for long periods of time and can thus provide important information
about developments in agricultural practices in a particular location and
broader patterns of social, cultural and environmental change over several
centuries. Those which survive well and/or which can be positively linked to
associated settlements are considered to merit protection.

The field system on Pitts Down is a well preserved and visually impressive
example of its class which will contain archaeological deposits providing
information about past land use, economy and environment.
Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments
dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age. They were
constructed as earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered
single or multiple burials. This barrow survives well, and its position within
the field system provides evidence for the different ways in which the
downland landscape of the Isle of Wight was used in later prehistory.

Source: Historic England

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