Ancient Monuments

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Long barrow at Foulmire Fen, 140m north west of the junction of Back and Small Fen Drove

A Scheduled Monument in Haddenham, Cambridgeshire

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Latitude: 52.3706 / 52°22'14"N

Longitude: 0.0845 / 0°5'4"E

OS Eastings: 542006.558183

OS Northings: 276777.108101

OS Grid: TL420767

Mapcode National: GBR L59.B58

Mapcode Global: VHHJ9.FP01

Entry Name: Long barrow at Foulmire Fen, 140m north west of the junction of Back and Small Fen Drove

Scheduled Date: 9 May 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019983

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33364

County: Cambridgeshire

Civil Parish: Haddenham

Traditional County: Cambridgeshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cambridgeshire

Church of England Parish: Haddenham Holy Trinity

Church of England Diocese: Ely


The monument includes a long barrow at Foulmire Fen situated approximately
140m north west of the junction of Back and Small Fen Drove. It is part of an
alignment of three long barrows, the other two of which are the subject of
separate schedulings. The long barrow has been covered by later deposits of
marine clay and peat, from which the crown emerges and has been exposed by
modern ploughing. Underlying the fen deposits is a trapezoidal mound, aligned
north east to south west, which is 1.2m high, 50m long, 16m wide at its east
end and 11m at its west end, as partial excavation between 1985 and 1987
demonstrated. Surrounding the mound is a berm approximately 4m wide and an
infilled ditch up to 5m wide and 1.5m deep, from which earth was dug in the
construction of the mound. The ditch contains waterlogged deposits, sealed by
a layer of marine clay deposited shortly after the construction of the long

Inside the mound a well-preserved rectangular flat-roofed wooden funerary
chamber was found, measuring up to 1.3m high, 7.2m long and up to 1.5m wide.
The structure was held in place by an external earth bank and several rows of
posts creating a porch and main room. While the porch was empty, the main room
contained the remains of five or six human burials together with a number of
leaf-shaped arrow heads. To the east of the chamber was a wooden facade,
probably 1.7m-2.2m high and 12m long, with 4m long arms curving to the west.
Leading up to this facade was a funnel shaped forecourt, surrounded by a 5.5m
wide gravelled surface, creating a false entrance. In the forecourt Mildenhall
pottery fragments were found. The chamber was originally a freestanding
structure, enclosed by a palisade running from the outermost ends of the
facade. This enclosure was later filled with a gravel capped clay and silt
creating a mound up to 0.5m high. A phase of destruction followed in which the
chamber, facade and forecourt were partly dismantled and burned. In its final
construction phase the long mound, some 1.2m high, was erected on top of and
to the west of the previous structures. The mound itself was reused at a later
date, as two secondary burials of unknown date indicate.

The long barrow is situated on a gravel island along the former course of the
River Great Ouse, where it met the Fen edge. This location acted as a focal
point for prehistoric activity, leaving a range of monuments such as a large
causewayed enclosure (3km to the south west) and a spread of barrows of
various forms. About 180m to the north east a round and an oval barrow fall in
line with the axis of the long barrow. These barrows are the subject of a
separate scheduling.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 4 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Long barrows were constructed as earthen or drystone mounds with flanking
ditches and acted as funerary monuments during the Early and Middle Neolithic
periods (3400-2400 BC). They represent the burial places of Britain's early
farming communities and, as such, are amongst the oldest field monuments
surviving visibly in the present landscape. Where investigated, long barrows
appear to have been used for communal burial, often with only parts of the
human remains having been selected for interment. Certain sites provide
evidence for several phases of funerary monument preceding the barrow and,
consequently, it is probable that long barrows acted as important ritual sites
for local communities over a considerable period of time. Some 500 examples of
long barrows and long cairns, their counterparts in the uplands, are recorded
nationally. As one of the few types of Neolithic structure to survive as
earthworks, and due to their comparative rarity, their considerable age and
their longevity as a monument type, all long barrows are considered to be
nationally important.

The long barrow at Foulmire Fen, 140m north west of the junction of Back and
Small Fen Drove, survives exceptionally well, having been protected by
overlying fen deposits of clay and peat, and contained a well-preserved wooden
chamber, human bone and pottery fragments. Partial excavation revealed that
the barrow developed through various construction stages, as well as a phase
of deliberate destruction and burning; an activity which has been documented
on other locations but remains poorly understood. Surviving deposits will
provide further valuable information on the construction and use of the tomb,
while waterlogged deposits in the ditch will contain evidence on the local
prehistoric environment. The long barrow is of additional importance as it is
situated in close vicinity of an oval and a round barrow, which provides an
unusual insight into the development of prehistoric funerary monuments from
the early Neolithic up to the Bronze Age. As part of an alignment of at least
three long barrows, the monument holds unique information on the spatial and
social organisation of Neolithic funerary rituals.

Source: Historic England

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