Rivenhall long mortuary enclosure


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1008980

Date first listed: 10-Oct-1994


Ordnance survey map of Rivenhall long mortuary enclosure
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Essex

District: Braintree (District Authority)

Parish: Rivenhall

National Grid Reference: TL 84701 16688


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

Reasons for Designation

Long mortuary enclosures are oblong-shaped enclosures up to 150m in length, surrounded by narrow, fairly straight ditches with slightly rounded corners, containing an open space edged by a perimeter bank set within the ditch. Characteristically there are two or more major causeways across the ditch which served as entrances. Most long mortuary enclosures are orientated within 45 degrees of an east-west alignment. Long mortuary enclosures are generally associated with human burials dated to the Early and Middle Neolithic periods (c.3200-2500 BC). There are approximately 35 examples recorded in England. The greatest concentration lies in Essex and Suffolk, but there are also examples along the Thames and in Warwickshire along the Avon; two isolated examples have been recorded in Northumberland. Long mortuary enclosures are very rare nationally and all surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.

Although no longer visible at ground level, Rivenhall long mortuary enclosure survives well as a buried feature. The sample excavation of the site demonstrated that the ditch remains well preserved and will provide archaeological information relating to the construction and use of the monument and environmental information relating to the landscape in which it was constructed.


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


The monument includes a long mortuary enclosure situated on the flood plain of the River Blackwater, 2.25km south east of Rivenhall parish church. Although no longer visible as an earthwork at ground level the monument can be clearly seen as a cropmark and on aerial photographs. The cropmarks indicate the survival of infilled ditches which surround a monument which was regular in plan with parallel sides and rounded corners and measured 49m east-west by 16m north-south. A small sample of the monument was excavated in 1986. The archaeological features were found to be about 0.3m below the ground surface. The ditch top measures an average of 2.08m in width but the bottom of the ditch varies in width from 0.5m to 0.83m. The depth of the ditch varies from 1.5m to 1.7m. The profile of the ditch also varies, the western arm having very steep sides and a flat bottom whilst the other arms have more sloping sides. The eastern ditch is shelved at about 0.55m from the bottom. These variations in depth and profile of the ditch were caused by the redigging of the ditch at intervals following partial silting. The ditch sections indicate the presence of an internal bank. A small quantity of worked flint and a few sherds of Early Neolithic pottery were recovered from the enclosure ditch. Other finds including earlier prehistoric pottery, more flintwork, Roman pottery and medieval and post-medieval pottery and tile were recovered from the ploughsoil around the monument.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 5 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: 20757

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Buckley, , Milton, , Excavation Of Possible Long Barrow Or Mortuary Enclosure At Rive, (1988), 77-91

End of official listing