Ancient Monuments

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Seven Sisters round barrow, Copt Hill, Houghton-le-Spring

A Scheduled Monument in Copt Hill, Sunderland

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Latitude: 54.8366 / 54°50'11"N

Longitude: -1.4512 / 1°27'4"W

OS Eastings: 435348.931943

OS Northings: 549222.12464

OS Grid: NZ353492

Mapcode National: GBR LD9J.M0

Mapcode Global: WHD5J.PP5K

Entry Name: Seven Sisters round barrow, Copt Hill, Houghton-le-Spring

Scheduled Date: 17 January 1962

Last Amended: 2 December 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018680

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32055

County: Sunderland

Electoral Ward/Division: Copt Hill

Built-Up Area: Houghton-le-Spring

Traditional County: Durham

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Tyne and Wear

Church of England Parish: Houghton-le-Spring

Church of England Diocese: Durham


The monument includes the round barrow known as Seven Sisters. It is situated
in arable land on the western flank of Copt Hill and is 300m south of Copt
Hill public house.
The barrow mound is 3m high and aproximately 25m in diameter. It is of earth
and stone construction. The stones include magnesian limestone and sandstone.
To the west and north west of the mound, at a distance of, there are visible
remains of a surrounding bank. An aerial photograph of the monument indicates
a further boundary to the west and north of the mound about 25m from the edge
of the mound, and a rectilinear cropmark to the east believed to be the
terminal of a cursus.
Excavation of the barrow in 1877 by Canon William Greenwell and Mr T Robinson
revealed that the primary burial was a Neolithic cremation believed to be an
example of an axial mortuary structure. There were also several Bronze Age
cremations and inhumations, and an early medieval inhumation.

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

Seven Sisters round barrow is an example of a barrow in a prominent position
which is a local landmark. Although disturbed by excavation in 1877 and by
modern surface diggings, the barrow, which has already provided evidence of a
large number of burials and of Neolithic origins, will contain further
archaeological evidence for dating and environment.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Trechmann, C T, 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in A Barrow At Copt Hill Near Houghton-le-Spring, , Vol. 3, XI, (1914), 123-30
Young, R, 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in The Copt Hill, Houghton-le-Spring, Round Cairn: A Reassessment, , Vol. 5, XIII, (1985), 7-17
Authors collection, Vyner, B, Copt Hill,
SMR record no.100, Copt Hill, Seven Sisters barrow, (1995)

Source: Historic England

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