Neolithic long barrow and Romano-British inhumation cemetery 70m north of Uffington Castle on Whitehorse Hill
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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This copy shows the entry on 21-Jul-2019 at 08:45:46.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Vale of White Horse (District Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- SU 30014 86523
Reasons for Designation
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
The long barrow on Whitehorse Hill formed the focus for later burials including a Romano-British inhumation cemetery dated to the fourth century. Romano-British cemeteries were either privately or communally owned ground set aside for the disposal, celebration and remembrance of the dead. Although upstanding mausolea and grave stones were occasionally present they rarely survive as upstanding monuments and there is usually no visible evidence surviving above ground of the location of burials. Individual burials were usually contained within grave cuts and richer burials would have been contained in wooden, stone or even lead coffins. Grave goods can include glass and ceramic vessels containing food, drink and coins to help the individual on the journey into the after life. The monument survives as a visible earthwork and has been shown by partial excavation to contain archaeological evidence relating to the long barrow, the landscape in which it was built, and its later reuse. The site represents an area of land dedicated to the burial of the dead over a long period of time and is situated in close proximity to a number of other important religious and secular monuments including Uffington hillfort and the White Horse.
The monument includes a Neolithic long barrow situated on a north west
facing slope, 70m north of Uffington Castle on Whitehorse Hill, an area in the
care of the Secretary of State. The barrow also forms the focus for a later
Romano-British inhumation cemetery.
The barrow has a mound aligned south west to north east which measures 25m
long and 12m across at its widest point, with the widest end facing the
north east. It stands up to 0.3m high and was originally flanked by two quarry
ditches from which material was obtained during the construction of the mound.
These have become infilled over the years and are no longer easily defined at
ground level although they have been shown by recent excavation to survive as
buried features c.4m wide.
A circular depression on the centre of the barrow measuring 3.2m in diameter
and 0.3m deep represents an excavation shaft, dug in 1857, from which a
cremation in a large coarse urn was recovered. This excavation also
demonstrated that the mound formed the focus for 46 skeletons buried in
42 graves; five individuals had coins in their mouths which dated them to
the late Roman period.
Partial re-excavation and geophysical surveys undertaken in June 1993 have
proved that the majority of Roman burials remain in situ and that the cemetery
extends an unknown distance around the long barrow and its ditch. The
excavation has also demonstrated that many of the skeletons lack skulls.
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:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Davis, J B, Thurnam, J T, Crania Britannica, (1865)
ANCIENT MONUMENTS LABORATORY, GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY PLOTS, 1993, Plots (unpublished to date)
Medical report, Davis & Thurran, E. Martin Atkins, Whitehorse Hill, CRANIA BRITANNICA, (1865)
On site discussion, JEFFERY, P.P., Discussion with S. Palmer (O.A.U.), (1993)
On site discussions, JEFFERY, P.P., DISCUSSION WITH S. PALMER (O.A.U.), (1993)
PRN 10,730, C.A.O., Oblong Mound, (1964)
PRN 10,730, C.A.O., Oblong Mound, (1967)
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