A Neolithic barrow on Whiteleaf Hill, 50m east of Whiteleaf Cross
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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This copy shows the entry on 25-Jan-2021 at 05:26:17.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Buckinghamshire (Unitary Authority)
- Princes Risborough
- National Grid Reference:
- SP 82217 03979
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 long
barrows are recorded in England. 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 nationally important.
The Neolithic barrow on Whiteleaf Hill, though considerably disturbed by past excavation and reconstruction, survives as a substantial landscape feature and is the only surviving Neolithic earthwork known in the county. The presence of an intact surrounding ditch indicates that the current shape of the mound conforms approximately to that of the original barrow which appears to have been D-shaped with the facade facing west. Neolithic monuments are rare and monuments of this shape and size are particularly so. Despite extensive excavation, further archaeological material will survive. Environmental evidence, pertaining to the original landscape in which the monument was constructed, will also survive sealed on the old land surface in those parts of the mound not disturbed.
The monument includes the remains of a Neolithic barrow situated on the
western edge of Whiteleaf Hill chalk escarpment. The barrow mound has been
considerably disturbed by a series of excavations undertaken by Lindsay Scott
between the years 1934 and 1939. The present form of the mound is a result of
reconstruction following these excavations. The original form of the mound is
described by Scott as being a kidney-shaped mound with a forecourt on the
east, surrounded by a ditch 2m wide. The present form of the mound conforms
largely to this shape, being kidney or D-shaped in plan measuring some 21m
north-east to south-west by 23m north-west to south-east and standing to a
height of 2m. The top of the mound is irregular with clear evidence of past
disturbance. It has the form of two lobes separated by a narrow neck, the
position of which conforms to the position of the burial chamber as revealed
in the 1930s excavations. Surrounding the mound is a shallow ditch from which
material for the original construction of the mound would have been quarried.
This survives as a shallow earthwork 4m wide with a maximum depth of 0.3m.
The excavation of the mound revealed that the barrow was of earth and flint
construction built around a wooden chamber. This was constructed from large
tree trunks laid horizontally; the corners of the chamber were defined by four
post holes giving a maximum length of 2.4m and width of 1.7m. The chamber
contained a single burial, though only the left foot and one tooth were found
in the chamber, the rest of the skeleton being scattered outside it.
Scattered throughout the mound was a considerable amount of pottery, some
24lbs in weight and representing between 55 and 60 individual vessels of
Neolithic date. Other finds from the site included flint flakes and animal
bones. Secondary disturbance of the original barrow include an intrusive
Romano-British burial in the north-east and a similarly dated rubbish pit in
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:
NAR (Qualification Card No. 0296),
NAR (Qualification SP 80 SW 1),
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