Ancient Monuments

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Roman barrow 380m north of Hill Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Chesterton, Cambridgeshire

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Latitude: 52.5378 / 52°32'15"N

Longitude: -0.3375 / 0°20'15"W

OS Eastings: 512852.661778

OS Northings: 294620.2362

OS Grid: TL128946

Mapcode National: GBR GYM.ZD6

Mapcode Global: VHGKV.3GFX

Entry Name: Roman barrow 380m north of Hill Farm

Scheduled Date: 30 November 1925

Last Amended: 18 September 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020125

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33361

County: Cambridgeshire

Civil Parish: Chesterton

Traditional County: Huntingdonshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cambridgeshire

Church of England Parish: Chesterton

Church of England Diocese: Ely


The monument includes a Roman barrow situated 380m north of Hill Farm, on the
crest of Chesterton Hill, which has good visibility especially to the north
and east. The barrow lies approximately 2.1km south of the remains of the
Roman town Durobrivae, and 750m south west of the A1, the former Roman Ermine
Street. The mound survives as a substantial earthwork with a flat platform
top, standing approximately 3.5m high from the bottom of the ditch and
covering an area 20m in diameter. The mound's profile shows a marked break of
slope, suggesting that a 0.6m top layer was added for later reuse. A ramp
approximately 9m long runs from the adjacent field in the north up to 0.6m
from the top of the mound and may have been constructed at the same time as
the top layer. The barrow's encircling ditch, from which earth was dug in the
construction of the mound, is visible as a slight depression, up to 3.5m wide
and approximately 0.5m deep.

With its commanding position on Chesterton Hill overlooking Ermine Street the
mound lent itself to reuse during later periods and may have functioned as a
Roman signal station and/or medieval beacon. The ramp and added top level
suggest that it was reused as a medieval mill mound. Medieval agricultural
activity in the area surrounding the mound is evident from ridge and furrow
cultivation remains, for example 400m north of the monument and 900m to its

The surface of the mettalled trackway is excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath it is included.

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 reused 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.

The Roman barrow 380m north of Hill Farm, which remains as a substantial
earthwork with associated buried features, is exceptionally well-preserved. As
part of a concentration of Roman barrows in East Anglia it provides a unique
insight into the social and economic development of south east England in the
early days of Roman occupation. Its reuse as a medieval mill mound and
possibly Roman signal station and medieval beacon, highlights its continued
importance as a local landmark through the centuries. The barrow does not
appear to have been excavated and most of its archaeological deposits are
thought to survive intact.

Source: Historic England

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