Bowl barrow and bell barrow on Graffham Down


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1008738

Date first listed: 09-May-1963

Date of most recent amendment: 12-Oct-1992


Ordnance survey map of Bowl barrow and bell barrow on Graffham Down
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: West Sussex

District: Chichester (District Authority)

Parish: Graffham

National Park: SOUTH DOWNS

National Grid Reference: SU 91469 16314


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Bell barrows, the most visually impressive form of round barrow, are funerary monuments dating to the Early and Middle Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 1500-1100 BC. They occur either in isolation or in round barrow cemeteries and 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 (particularly multiple barrows) are rare nationally, with less than 250 known examples, most of which are in Wessex. Their richness in terms of grave goods provides evidence for chronological and cultural links amongst early prehistoric communities over most of southern and eastern England as well as providing an insight into their beliefs and social organisation. As a particularly rare form of round barrow, all identified bell barrows would normally be considered to be of national importance.

Bowl barrows are the most numerous form of round barrow dating from the Late Neolithic to the Late Bronze Age with most examples belonging to the period 2400-1500bc. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds and, although superficially similar, they exhibit regional variations in form and a diversity of burial practices. There are over 10,000 bowl barrows recorded nationally occurring across most of lowland Britain. 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 and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection. Despite evidence of partial excavation of both the bell barrow and the bowl barrow on Graffham Down, they survive comparatively well and contain archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes two round barrows situated on the crest of a ridge of chalk downland at the north edge of the South Downs. The eastern barrow is a bowl barrow and comprises a central mound 20m in diameter and 1.4m high which has a large central hollow suggesting that it was once partially excavated. Surrounding the mound is a ditch from which material was quarried during the construction of the monument. This has become partially infilled over the years and is now 5m wide and 1m deep. The western barrow is a bell barrow and comprises a central mound 15m in diameter and 1.2m high; this too has a hollow in it suggesting that it was also once partially excavated. Surrounding this is a gently sloping platform, or berm, up to 2m wide on the south side. Beyond this is a ditch which survives as a low earthwork 3.5m wide and 0.7m deep.

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: 20085

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Grinsell, L V, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Sussex Barrows (Volume 75), , Vol. 75, (1934)
Aldsworth, F.G., SU 91 NW 21, (1975)

End of official listing