Portal dolmen 400m south east of Burnt Hill
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1008404
Date first listed: 06-Aug-1973
Date of most recent amendment: 03-Feb-1995
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: West Oxfordshire (District Authority)
District: Stratford-on-Avon (District Authority)
Parish: Little Compton
National Grid Reference: SP 26663 28656
Reasons for Designation
Portal dolmens are funerary and ceremonial monuments of the Early and Middle
Neolithic period, the dated examples showing construction in the period 3500-
2600 BC. As burial monuments of Britain's early farming communities, they are
among the oldest visible field monuments to survive in the present landscape.
Where sufficiently well-preserved, they comprise a small closed rectangular
chamber built from large stone slabs, with free-standing stones flanking the
frontal slab of the chamber. A capstone, often massive, covers the chamber,
and some examples show traces of a low cairn or platform around the chamber.
Some sites have traces of a kerb around the cairn and certain sites show a
forecourt area, edged by a facade of upright stones in a few examples. Little
is yet known about the form of the primary burial rites. At the few excavated
sites, pits and postholes have been recorded within and in front of the
chamber, containing charcoal and cremated bone; some chamber contents of soil
and stones may be original blocking deposits. Many portal dolmens were re-used
for urned cremations, especially during the Middle Bronze Age. Only about 20
portal dolmens are known nationally, concentrated in west Penwith, Cornwall,
and in the north-west Oxfordshire Cotswolds, with a scatter between these. As
one of the few surviving field monument types of the Neolithic period, and due
to their rarity, considerable age and longevity of construction and use, all
portal dolmens are considered to be nationally important.
The portal dolmen 400m south east of Burnt Hill survives well despite later quarrying in the vicinity of the site. Recent work has demonstrated that it will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, the landscape in which it was built and its possible reuse in later periods. The monument is also situated in close proximity to a Neolithic long barrow, the type of funerary monument which replaced portal dolmens.
The monument includes a Neolithic portal dolmen situated on the Oxfordshire
and Warwickshire county boundary 400m south east of Burnt Hill. The site lies
on a gentle south east facing slope at the north east corner of a small wood.
The portal dolmen has one large upright and one adjacent inclined stone,
together with a number of smaller stones on the northern side of a roughly
square depression which measures 3m across and 0.2m deep. The upright
limestone block measures 1.54m long, 0.72m thick and stands 0.94m high above
the present ground level. The inclined stone immediately to the east measures
1m long, c.1m wide and 0.5m thick. Surrounding the central depression is a
circular bank of small stones which measures c.10m in overall diameter. The
bank is 2m wide and stands 0.4m high to the south. To the north it is
partially obscured by a more recent wall which runs around the north and west
sides of the monument. However, a spread of small stones in the adjacent
ploughed field, which slopes away from the monument, stands up to 0.5m high
and indicates the disturbed bank on this side.
During field observations in 1971 two small fragments of human skull, two
fragments of long bones, three struck flints, including a retouched flake, and
two fragments of coarse pottery were found in leaf litter within the central
The monument lies 160m north east of a Neolithic long barrow, situated on the
same hill slope.
Excluded from the scheduling is the drystone wall which runs across the
dolmen's northern and western sides, although the ground beneath this wall
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.
Legacy System number: 21793
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Benson, D, Fasham, P, 'Volume 5-6 1972' in Field Work at Chastleton, , Vol. XXXVII, (1972), pp 1-9
OCN 158, ARMSTRONG, L. (FMW), Site No. 24928, (1988)
OCN 158, English Heritage , Stone circle S.E. of Burnt Hill, (1976)
OCN 159, ENGLISH HERITAGE, Bronze Age stone circle SSE of Burnt Hill, (1976)
PRN 1470, C.A.O., Tumulus? remains of., (1976)
PRN 2626, C.A.O., Cairn? Round barrow, (1976)
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:10000 Series Source Date: 1981 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Quater sheet SP 22 NE
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