Two bell barrows, two pond barrows and a cross dyke on Bow Hill: part of The Devil's Humps round barrow cemetery


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

West Sussex
Chichester (District Authority)
West Sussex
Chichester (District Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
SU 81887 10989

Reasons for Designation

Beneficial land use over the years has enabled Bow Hill and Kingley Vale to support one of the most diverse and well-preserved areas of chalk downland archaeological remains in south eastern England. These remains are considered to be of particular significance because they include types of monument, dating from the prehistoric and Roman periods, more often found in Wessex and south western Britain. The well-preserved and often visible relationship between trackways, settlement sites, land boundaries, stock enclosures, flint mines, ceremonial and funerary monuments in the area gives significant insight into successive changes in the pattern of land use over time. Round barrow cemeteries date to the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). They comprise closely-spaced groups of up to 30 round barrows - rubble or earthen mounds covering single or multiple burials. Most cemeteries developed over a considerable period of time, often many centuries, and in some cases acted as a focus for burials as late as the early medieval period. They exhibit considerable diversity of burial rite, plan and form, frequently including several different types of round barrow, occasionally associated with earlier long barrows. Where large scale investigation has been undertaken around them, contemporary or later `flat' burials between the barrow mounds have often been revealed. Round barrow cemeteries occur across most of lowland Britain, with a marked concentration in Wessex. In some cases, they are clustered around other important contemporary monuments such as henges. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape, whilst their diversity and their longevity as a monument type provide important information on the variety of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving or partly-surviving examples are considered worthy of protection. Bell barrows, the most visually impressive form of round barrow, date to the Early and Middle Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 1500-1100 BC. They were constructed as single or multiple mounds covering burials, often in pits, and surrounded by an enclosure ditch. The burials are frequently accompanied by weapons, personal ornaments and pottery and appear to be those of aristocratic individuals, usually men. Bell barrows are rare nationally, with less than 250 known examples, most of which are in Wessex. Pond barrows also date to the Early and Middle Bronze Age, although, rather than a mound, they were constructed as regular circular depressions with an embanked rim and, occasionally, an outer ditch or an entrance through the bank. Where excavation has occurred, single or multiple pits or cists, occasionally containing human remains, have usually been discovered within the central depression, whilst at one example a well-like shaft was revealed. The function and role of pond barrows is not fully understood but their close association with other types of barrow and the limited but repeated occurrence of human remains from excavated examples supports their identification as ceremonial monuments involved in funerary ritual. Pond barrows are the rarest form of round barrow, with about 60 examples recorded nationally and a distribution largely confined to Wiltshire and Dorset. Cross dykes are substantial linear earthworks typically between 0.2km and 1km long and comprising one or more ditches arranged beside and parallel to one or more banks. They generally occur in upland situations, running across ridges and spurs. The evidence of excavation and analogy with associated monuments demonstrates that their construction spans the millenium from the Middle Bronze Age, although they may have been reused later. Current information favours the view that they were used as territorial boundary markers, probably demarcating land allotment within communities. Cross dykes are one of the few monument types which illustrate how land was divided up in the prehistoric period. Very few have survived to the present day, and they are of considerable importance for any analysis of settlement and land use in the Bronze Age. Despite partial excavation of the two bell barrows, the four barrows and the cross dyke on Bow Hill survive well and contain archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed. These monuments are broadly contemporary and their close association will therefore provide evidence for the relationship between land division and funerary practice during the period of their construction and use.


The monument includes two bell barrows and two pond barrows forming part of a linear round barrow cemetery and a cross dyke situated on the summit of a ridge of the Sussex Downs.

Running across the ridge immediately to the south west of the four barrows, the cross dyke is a north west-south east orientated ditch with a total length of 230m, made up of three zig-zagged sections 4m wide and 1m deep. Each section of ditch is flanked on the south east side by a bank 6m wide and up to 1m high. The most northerly section of the ditch is 45m long and ends in a well-defined, rounded terminal at its northern end. The central section is 75m long and is separated from the northern and southern sections by two parallel trackways running along the top of the ridge. The southern section is 80m long and, at its southern end, fades out at the point where the ground falls away to form the southern slope of the ridge.

To the north east of the central section of the cross dyke is the first of the bell barrows with a central mound 26m in diameter and 4m high. The mound has a central hollow indicating partial excavation in the 19th century. Separating the mound from its surrounding ditch is a flat platform or berm 3m wide, which gives the barrow its distinctive, bell-shaped form. The ditch, from which material used to construct the barrow was excavated, survives as an earthwork feature 5m wide and 0.8m deep.

North east of the bell barrow is a pond barrow with a central depression 4m in diameter and 0.6m deep, surrounded by a bank 2m wide and 0.2m high. The second bell barrow lies c.2m to the north east and has a mound 26m in diameter and 3.5m high with a central hollow, the result of partial excavation in 1933. The surrounding berm is up to 4m wide and the outer ditch 5m wide and 0.8m deep. Five metres to the north east is the second pond barrow with a central depression 6m in diameter and 0.5m deep surrounded by a bank 2m wide and 0.2m high.

Together with two bowl barrows c.105m to the north east, the barrows are known as The Devil's Humps or Kings Graves. A Bronze Age flint scraper and sherds of Bronze Age or Iron Age pottery were found during the excavation of the second bell barrow, along with some Romano-British pottery sherds and a Roman bronze coin of Valentian II.

MAP EXTRACT 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.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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Books and journals
Farraday, L, 'Sussex County Magazine' in Sussex County Magazine, , Vol. 10, (1936), 45
Franks, AW, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Sussex Archaeological Collections, , Vol. 7, (1854), 52-54
Grinsell, L V, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Sussex Barrows, , Vol. 75, (1934), 223-248
Moss, E, AM107, (1987)
SU 81 SW 20, (1962)


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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