Ancient Monuments

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Neolithic long mortuary enclosure and two Bronze Age bowl barrows immediately north of Otby Top Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Thoresway, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 53.4421 / 53°26'31"N

Longitude: -0.285 / 0°17'6"W

OS Eastings: 514008.602226

OS Northings: 395289.962504

OS Grid: TF140952

Mapcode National: GBR VXGM.2V

Mapcode Global: WHHJ8.LRH3

Entry Name: Neolithic long mortuary enclosure and two Bronze Age bowl barrows immediately north of Otby Top Farm

Scheduled Date: 16 April 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018862

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29748

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Thoresway

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Walesby St Mary and All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument includes the buried remains of a long mortuary enclosure of the
Neolithic period and two Bronze Age bowl barrows situated on the eastern side
of the steeply sloping valley of the Otby Beck, immediately north of Otby Top
Farm. The intervening ground between the mortuary enclosure and the barrows,
which is thought to contain archaeological evidence for activities focussed on
the site, is also included in the scheduling.
Although the internal bank of the long mortuary enclosure and the mounds of
the barrows have been reduced by ploughing, their infilled and buried ditches
are visible from the air as a series of cropmarks. The cropmarks (areas of
enhanced growth resulting from higher levels of moisture retained by the
underlying archaeological features) have been recorded on aerial photographs
since 1970.
The long mortuary enclosure is oblong in plan, defined by a straight sided
ditch with slightly rounded corners, measuring some 70m by 40m overall.
Material quarried from this ditch would have been used to construct an
internal perimeter bank, thus further demarking the area set aside for
funerary activities which are thought to have included exposure of the newly
dead and the storage of human remains prior to burial in long barrows. Access
to this ritual compound was provided by a causeway across the north western
arm of the ditch, and a further causeway is thought to exist on the opposing
side. The aerial evidence has not, to date, revealed indications of internal
structures but excavations of similar sites elsewhere in Britain suggest that
pits and post holes may survive beneath the present ground surface. A
further, significant feature which may also be preserved is a paved area or
platform thought to have been used for the deposition and excarnation of the
Two bowl barrows lie to the north and east of the mortuary enclosure separated
from it by distances of 30m and 10m respectively, and by 40m from each other.
They indicate the location's continuing ritual significance at a later date.
Both barrow mounds have been reduced by ploughing but their encircling quarry
ditches, each measuring approximately 20m in diameter, survive as infilled and
buried features.
The long mortuary enclosure lies within 2km of four Neolithic long barrows
(all the subject of separate scheduling), two to the north and two to the
south. It may thus have served the funerary needs of several communities whose
burial mounds are associated with the valleys of the Otby and Waithe Becks and
with the prehistoric trackway now formalised as High Street (the B1225) which
lies some 550m to the east of the monument.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 5 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.

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
Although the monument immediately north of Otby Top Farm has been reduced by
ploughing, the infilled and buried ditches of the long mortuary enclosure and
the bowl barrows survive well. They will retain rare and valuable
archaeological deposits, including human remains, relating to their dating,
construction, period of use and the religious beliefs of their builders.
Environmental evidence preserved in the same contexts may illustrate the
nature of the landscape in which the monument was set.
The ground between the enclosure and the barrows will retain archaeological
evidence concerning activities focussed on the site during construction and
use, and may provide indications of a chronological association between the
mortuary enclosure and the bowl barrows.
The location of the long mortuary enclosure within a group of long barrows
associated with the Otby and Waithe Becks, and with the prehistoric trackway
now formalised as the B1225 (High Street), has considerable significance for
the study not only of funerary practices but of settlement, demography and
communications during the Neolithic period. The close proximity of burial
mounds of a later date is strongly indicative of the enduring ritual
importance of the location.

Source: Historic England


oblique monochrome prints, Hayes, JT & Wilson, P, PP 1-16, (1970)

Source: Historic England

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