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Long mortuary enclosure and barrows 460m north west of Mill Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Clare, Suffolk

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.0701 / 52°4'12"N

Longitude: 0.5646 / 0°33'52"E

OS Eastings: 575873.870373

OS Northings: 244409.937945

OS Grid: TL758444

Mapcode National: GBR PFL.5KG

Mapcode Global: VHJHK.Q7VC

Entry Name: Long mortuary enclosure and barrows 460m north west of Mill Farm

Scheduled Date: 14 December 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019142

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32416

County: Suffolk

Civil Parish: Clare

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Suffolk

Church of England Parish: Ashen

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford

Details

The monument is within three areas of protection and includes the buried
remains of an oblong Neolithic long mortuary enclosure with an associated
smaller morturary enclosure immediately adjacent, a group of three Bronze Age
bowl barrows to the north and a large circular barrow to the south east. The
site is situated some 1.5km south west of the village of Clare on the southern
bank of the River Stour.
Although the mortuary enclosures and barrows are no longer easily visible on
the ground, their infilled ditches can be seen from the air as cropmarks and
on the ground as depressions in the ploughsoil. The cropmarks (areas of
enhanced crop growth resulting from higher levels of moisture retained by the
underlying archaeological features) have been recorded on aerial photographs,
some dating back to the 1960s. The site has been targeted for aerial recording
periodically by Cambridge University's Aerial Photography Unit and by Essex
County Council's Archaeology Section, showing particulary well during the
summer droughts of 1976 and 1996.
The mortuary enclosures are defined by uninterrupted ditches, the larger being
of oblong shape, the smaller `D'-shaped, with a straight eastern end; both are
aligned ENE-WSW, parallel to the course of the River Stour. The long mortuary
enclosure measures some 35m in length by 21m at its widest point, the
associated enclosure some 13.5m by 9m. Originally the enclosures would have
had internal banks created by the upcast from the excavation of their ditches,
although these have long since been reduced by ploughing. The ditches enclose
areas that would have been used for funerary and ritual purposes and pits
visible as cropmarks within them will include evidence for their use.
The group of three fairly small circular ditches (diameters: 12m, 8m and 7m)
to the north are interpreted as the enclosing ditches of bowl barrows. These
are likely to be of later date, possibly Bronze Age.
The larger, circular barrow to the south east of the mortuary enclosures is
some 40m in diameter, and its encircling ditch remains visible on the ground
as a slight depression.

MAP EXTRACT
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.

Neolithic long mortuary enclosures are rare monuments in Essex as elsewhere,
and the long mortuary enclosure and its associated `D'-shaped enclosure 460m
north west of Mill Farm is one of only a small number of such sites identified
by aerial photography. A comparison of these sites will provide rare and
valuable information concerning the pattern of Neolithic rituals and
settlement in the region.
Round barrows 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 mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered
single or multiple burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as
cemeteries and often acted as a focus of burials in later periods. They are a
major historic element in the modern landscape and their considerable
variation in form and longevity as a monument type provide important
information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisations amongst early
prehistoric communities.
The barrows north west of Mill Farm are part of a widespread distribution of
similar monuments which follow the gravel terraces of the River Stour. As with
the mortuary enclosures our understanding of their importance in the
prehistoric landscape has been greatly enhanced by aerial survey.
Although the earthwork features of the long mortuary enclosure, associated
enclosure and barrows have been greatly reduced by ploughing, archaeological
deposits will survive as buried features and will contain evidence relating to
the dating of their construction, period of use and the changing ritual
beliefs and practices of their builders. Environmental evidence preserved in
buried ground surfaces and in the fills of the ditches and internal features
may illustrate the nature of the landscape in which the mortuary enclosures
were set.
The gravel terraces of the River Stour are known to have provided the focus
for burial and ritual activities, as well as settlement, in the Neolithic
period and Bronze Age. The long mortuary enclosure, associated `D'-shaped
enclosure and barrows form a particularly interesting group, the study of
which will contribute valuable information regarding the continuity and
evolution of prehistoric funerary practices in the area.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Buckley, , Milton, , 'PPS' in Excavation Of A Neolithic Long Barrow Or Mortuary Enclosure, (1988), p77-91
Buckley, , Milton, , 'PPS' in Excavation Of A Neolithic Long Barrow Or Mortuary Enclosure, (1988), p77-91
Charge, B B, 'Haverhill and District Archaeological Group Journal' in Cropmark Survey Reports 1982-83, (1984), p168
Charge, B B, 'Haverhill and District Archaeological Group Journal' in Cropmark Survey Reports 1982-83, (1984), p168
Other
1:10 000 NMP Plot, Strachan, D, OS TL74SE, (1998)
2 black/white prints, CUCAP, BCT80, 83, (1971)
2 black/white prints, CUCAP, BCT80, 83, (1971)
2 black/white prints, Farrands, R, 226.25, 26, (1980)
2 black/white prints, McMaster, I, 7.17, 18, (1979)
2 colour prints, Strachan, D, CP/96/9/14; CP/96/10/1, (1996)
2 colour prints, Strachan, D, CP/96/9/14; CP/96/10/1, (1996)
4 colour prints, Rogers, P, 170/6, 7, 8, 10, (1989)
4 colour prints, Rogers, P, 170/6, 7, 8, 10, (1989)
black/white print, CUCAP, AAW3, (1960)
black/white print, CUCAP, AUQ12, (1969)
black/white print, CUCAP, BCT80, (1971)
black/white print, CUCAP, BCT83, (1971)
black/white print, CUCAP, BFM20, (1971)
black/white print, CUCAP, BFX14, (1971)
black/white print, CUCAP, BKJ22, (1972)
black/white print, CUCAP, BYC72, (1976)
Charge, BB, Cropmark Survey Reports 1982-83, Haverhill & District Arch. Group Journal, (1996)
colour print, Rogers, P, 170/8, (1989)
colour print, Strachan, D, CP/96/10/1, (1996)
colour prints, Rogers, P, 310/10, (1990)

Source: Historic England

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