Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Long barrow 650m NNW of Lythel's Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Swaffham Prior, Cambridgeshire

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Latitude: 52.2795 / 52°16'46"N

Longitude: 0.2388 / 0°14'19"E

OS Eastings: 552827.552721

OS Northings: 266959.443359

OS Grid: TL528669

Mapcode National: GBR M80.16X

Mapcode Global: VHHJS.3Y3W

Entry Name: Long barrow 650m NNW of Lythel's Farm

Scheduled Date: 12 March 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020843

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33384

County: Cambridgeshire

Civil Parish: Swaffham Prior

Traditional County: Cambridgeshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cambridgeshire

Church of England Parish: Swaffham Bulbeck St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Ely


The monument includes a long barrow situated 650m NNW of Lythel's Farm, on
the highest point in a field that gently slopes down to Swaffham Bulbeck
Lode. It has been covered and protected by later deposits of marine clay
and peat from which the crown of the mound now emerges. It is visible as a
sandy gravel rise, aligned ENE-WSW, which stands 0.3m high and measures 37m
long by 22m wide. The deeper-lying remains of the barrow, including an
encircling ditch from which earth was dug in the construction of the mound,
are preserved underneath the fen deposits. By comparison with examples
excavated elsewhere in the area, the ditch is thought to measure about 5m
wide. On top of the mound one Neolithic pottery fragment was found, which
was originally part of the mound material and was brought to the surface by
The long barrow is situated on the very edge of the prehistoric fen, where
it once met the River Cam. The area, with its mixture of wetter and drier
grounds and easy access along the waterways, acted as a focus for prehistoric
activity, leaving a wide range of evidence, including scattered Neolithic
flint tools and working debris, as well as settlement remains.

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 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 650m NNW of Lythel's Farm is well-preserved, having been
protected by overlying deposits of peat and clay. It will contain a range
of information relating to the barrow's construction, the manner and
duration of its use, as well as ritual and domestic activity on the site.
Buried soils underneath the mound will retain valuable archaeological
evidence concerning land use in the area prior to the construction of the
barrow. Given the location of the long barrow on the edge of the fen and
River Cam valley, it is possible that the deeper deposits in the ditch are
waterlogged and contain rare organic materials. These will provide
information on environmental conditions (eg climate, flora and fauna)
since its construction. The monument has additional importance as part of
a wider landscape in which early prehistoric remains are unusually well

Source: Historic England

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