Ancient Monuments

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Long barrow and enclosure 870m ENE of Copley Hill Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Babraham, Cambridgeshire

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Latitude: 52.1511 / 52°9'3"N

Longitude: 0.206 / 0°12'21"E

OS Eastings: 551025.960226

OS Northings: 252603.567961

OS Grid: TL510526

Mapcode National: GBR M9H.4X1

Mapcode Global: VHHKJ.J68B

Entry Name: Long barrow and enclosure 870m ENE of Copley Hill Farm

Scheduled Date: 12 March 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020845

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33386

County: Cambridgeshire

Civil Parish: Babraham

Traditional County: Cambridgeshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cambridgeshire

Church of England Parish: Babraham St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Ely


The monument includes the buried remains of a long barrow and livestock
handling enclosure 870m ENE of Copley Hill Farm. The long barrow lies on the
summit of a south facing slope and is oriented NNW-SSE, in between and
aligned with the chalk outcrops of Copley Hill and Meggs Hill. It measures
approximately 90m long by 40m wide with the wider terminal on the south.
The barrow's mound has been reduced by ploughing to the extent that it is
no longer visible above ground, but its deeper deposits are preserved. The
central burial area and the encircling ditch, from which earth was dug in the
construction of the mound, are clearly visible as dark soilmarks against the
otherwise white chalky ground, as well as cropmarks (areas of enhanced growth
resulting from higher levels of moisture retained by the underlying
archaeological features). The ditch is up to 7m wide.
At a later stage the long barrow was incorporated into an enclosure, whose
boundary ditch runs along, and respects, the northern tip of the barrow.
Although the enclosure's boundary ditch has become infilled over the years, it
survives and is clearly visible as a soilmark against the white chalk and as a
cropmark on aerial photographs. The enclosure is triangular in shape, with
the tip at the south. Current archaeological research identifies this
feature as a Bronze Age stock enclosure, similar to the one excavated at
Fengate. The 150m wide entrance lies in the north east corner, where animals
from the surrounding fields were gathered. They would then be driven down hill
into the tip of the enclosure, which acted as a funnel, in which the flock
could be inspected and sorted. The northern edge of the enclosure runs along
the summit of the hill and measures 250m long, while the eastern and western
boundaries are 600m and 450m long respectively up to their meeting point,
beyond which the western boundary ditch continues south for another 180m.
The aerial photographic evidence also suggests that two rectangular
enclosures of approximately 100m by 15m were aligned within the tip of
the enclosure, which were probably used as sorting yards. Outside the
main enclosure, and connected to its eastern edge by two antennae shaped
ditches, is a square enclosure measuring 60m on all sides, in which
selected animals could be held separately from the main flock.
The stock handling system is part of a larger field system, of which other
segments have been identified about 300m to the north west and 800m to the
south east. The precise layout and survival of these elements of the field
system remain uncertain and they are not included in the scheduling.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 10 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.

Although the long barrow 870m ENE of Copley Hill Farm is no longer visible
as an earthwork, its buried remains survive and will contain a range of
archaeological evidence. Buried soils underneath the mound will retain
valuable archaeological information concerning land use in the area prior
to the construction of the barrow. Organic deposits preserved in the ditch
will provide information on environmental conditions (eg climate, flora
and fauna) since its construction. The central burial area may preserve
fragments of grave goods and/or skeletal material, which will provide
further rare evidence relating to funerary ritual and the prehistoric
demography of the area. The long barrow is of added importance in relation
to the surrounding Bronze Age livestock handling enclosure, of which few
have so far been identified. This association provides a rare insight
into the organisation and evolution of the prehistoric landscape.

Source: Historic England

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