Three bowl barrows at Firle Beacon, 1.1km WSW of Charleston Farm.
Reasons for Designation
Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, 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 or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often acted as a focus for burials in later periods. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape and their considerable variation of form and longevity as a monument type provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisations amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period.
Despite disturbance by partial excavation in the past, the three bowl barrows at Firle Beacon, 1.1km WSW of Charleston Farm, survive well as visible features in the landscape. They will contain archaeological information and environmental evidence relating to the barrows and the landscape in which they were constructed.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 31 July 2014. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.
The monument includes three bowl barrows, the largest of, which is known as ‘Firle Beacon’. The barrows are situated at the summit of a steep escarpment forming the northern edge of the South Downs between Lewes and Eastbourne. The South Downs Way passes between them. They each survive as a broadly circular shaped mound. Firle Beacon, the northern-most barrow, is the largest and is about 23m in diameter and 1.5m high. The second bowl barrow is 42m to the south. It is about 10m in diameter and 0.9m high with a 0.4m depression in the centre. A third barrow is 132m to the south-east. It is 13m in diameter and 1.3m high with shallow pits on the top. Although not apparently visible above ground, the barrows are likely to include a surrounding quarry ditch, from which material to construct the mound was derived, surviving as a buried feature.
Firle Beacon was opened in 1820 and pits in the top of the mound are still evident, as is a resultant tail probably from spoil to the south. The finds included an inhumation, two cinerary urns, a bronze pin, an incense cup and a stem-and-barbed arrow-head. The barrow was used as a beacon mound during the Napoleonic Wars. The depression in the second barrow is likely to be the result of a partial excavation carried out at the same time as Firle Beacon. Similarly the depression in the third barrow is also probably the result of past excavation.
Further archaeological remains survive in the vicinity of this monument. Some such as a nearby Long Barrow are scheduled, but others, including a cross ridge dyke, are not because they have not been formally assessed.