Barrow field north-west of Offham Hill


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009101

Date first listed: 19-Jun-1967

Date of most recent amendment: 21-Dec-1992


Ordnance survey map of Barrow field north-west of Offham Hill
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: East Sussex

District: Lewes (District Authority)

Parish: Hamsey

National Park: SOUTH DOWNS

National Grid Reference: TQ 39192 11892


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

Reasons for Designation

Beginning in the fifth century AD, there is evidence from distinctive burials and cemeteries, new settlements, and new forms of pottery and metalwork, of the immigration into Britain of settlers from northern Europe, bringing with them new religious beliefs. The Roman towns appear to have gone into rapid decline and the old rural settlement pattern to have been disrupted. Although some Roman settlements and cemeteries continued in use, the native Britons rapidly adopted many of the cultural practices of the new settlers and it soon becomes difficult to distinguish them in the archaeological record. So-called Anglo-Saxon cemeteries are dated to the early Anglo-Saxon period, from the fifth to the seventh centuries AD. With the conversion to Christianity during the late sixth and seventh centuries AD, these pagan cemeteries appear to have been abandoned in favour of new sites, some of which have continued in use up to the present day. Burial practices included both inhumation and cremation. Anglo-Saxon inhumation cemeteries consist predominantly of inhumation burials which were placed in rectangular pits in the ground, occasionally within coffins. The bodies were normally accompanied by a range of grave goods, including jewellery and weaponry. The cemeteries vary in size, the largest containing several hundred burials. Around 1000 inhumation cemeteries have been recorded in England. They represent one of our principal sources of archaeological evidence about the Early Anglo-Saxon period, providing information on population, social structure and ideology. All surviving examples, other than those which have been heavily disturbed, are considered worthy of protection.

Despite partial excavation, the barrow field north-west of Offham Hill survives well and contains further important archaeological remains relating to social organisation in this area during the early medieval period.


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


The monument includes an early medieval or Anglo-Saxon barrow field situated on the south-east facing slope of a hill in an area of chalk downland. The barrow field includes at least thirteen barrow mounds in a nucleated cluster. They range between 4m and 9.5m in diameter and from 0.2m to 0.6m in height; the majority of the group (ten of the thirteen), however, are of uniform size and shape, ranging from 4m to 6m across and from 0.3m to 0.6m high. There is no evidence for any surrounding ditches although these are likely to survive as buried features up to 2m wide. Four of the barrows have central hollows suggesting that they may have been partially excavated, possibly by Shrapnell in c.1800. He is known to have excavated a number of barrows near to Offham chalk pits although the precise location was not recorded. Details which are known include the fact that he opened two mounds which contained female skeletons, while the others he opened contained human bones surrounded and covered with large flints. No grave goods were recovered.

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: 20124

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Cooke, G A, Topographical Description of County of Sussex, (1934), 123-4

End of official listing