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Plumberow Mount

A Scheduled Monument in Hockley, Essex

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.6133 / 51°36'47"N

Longitude: 0.6559 / 0°39'21"E

OS Eastings: 583984.579706

OS Northings: 193833.874269

OS Grid: TQ839938

Mapcode National: GBR QNG.YF2

Mapcode Global: VHJKR.BQ44

Entry Name: Plumberow Mount

Scheduled Date: 4 July 1924

Last Amended: 24 October 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017451

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29397

County: Essex

Civil Parish: Hockley

Built-Up Area: Rayleigh

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Essex

Church of England Parish: Hockley

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford

Details

The monument includes the earthen mound known as Plumberow Mount which stands
on the summit of a natural knoll to the north of the town of Hockley, a
position commanding extensive views to the south across the Thames estuary,
and to the north and east over the valleys of the rivers Crouch and Roach.
The mound stands to a height of about 4m and is slightly oval in plan,
measuring approximately 23m from east to west by 18m transversely. A flattened
area on the summit reflects the former position of a summer house. Exploratory
excavations took place in 1913, during which three trenches were cut into
the mound, from the north, east and south sides, extending into tunnels which
met beneath the summer house. Although no evidence of a burial was found, the
excavators did retrieve a coin of the emperor Domitian (c.AD 84), a shale or
jet bead and numerous sherds of Romano-British pottery. Beneath the centre of
the mound a large post hole was found to cut through a gravel surface, which
may have been artificial. A few sherds of Saxon pottery were recovered in the
upper part of the mound during the excavations, perhaps reflecting a later
burial. In the absence of evidence for an encircling ditch, the mound is
thought to have been either constructed from earth and sub-soil deposits
quarried elsewhere, or from material gathered from the surface of the
surrounding hillside.

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

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.

Despite past disturbance Plumberow Mount survives well and remains a
conspicuous feature in the landscape. Although the 1913 excavations failed to
find evidence for the principal burial, it was demonstrated that the mound was
created no earlier than the first century AD. The interpretation of the mound
as a Roman barrow, although unproven, remains the most probable explanation.
The greater part of the mound remains undisturbed and it is possible that the
burial, if placed away from the centre of the mound (as in a larger Roman
barrow on Mersea Island, 27km to the north east), will remain intact. The
discovery of later pottery fragments within the mound is also highly
significant. Excavations of comparable monuments have demonstrated that
pre-existing monuments were attractive locations for subsequent burials,
especially in the pagan Anglo-Saxon period. Evidence of such activity at
Plumberow Mount would prove highly valuable for the study of post Roman
occupation in the area.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Francis, E B, 'Trans. Essex Archaeology Society' in The Opening of Plumberow Mount in Hockley, , Vol. 13, (1915), 223-237
Hazzledine-Warren, S, 'Trans. Essex Archaeology Society' in A Romano-British Barrow on Mersea Island, , Vol. 13, (1915), 121-138

Source: Historic England

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