Bowl barrow and four hlaews on the summit of Saxon Down


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009948

Date first listed: 27-Jan-1967

Date of most recent amendment: 02-Feb-1995


Ordnance survey map of Bowl barrow and four hlaews on the summit of Saxon Down
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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: Glynde

National Park: SOUTH DOWNS

National Grid Reference: TQ 44362 10360


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

Reasons for Designation

Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often acted as a focus for burials in later periods. Often superficially similar, although differing widely in size, they exhibit regional variations in form and a diversity of burial practices. There are over 10,000 surviving bowl barrows recorded nationally (many more have already been destroyed), 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.

A hlaew is a burial monument of Anglo Saxon or Viking date and comprises a usually hemispherical mound of earth and redeposited bedrock constructed over a primary burial or burials. These were usually inhumations, buried in a grave cut into the subsoil beneath the mound, but cremations placed on the old ground surface beneath the mound have also been found. Hlaews may occur in pairs or in small groups; a few have accompanying flat graves. Constructed during the pagan Saxon and Viking periods for individuals of high rank, they were associated with territorial claims and appear to have been specifically located to mark boundaries. They often contain objects which give information on the range of technological skills and trading contacts of the period. Only between 50 and 60 hlaews have been positively identified in England. As a rare monument class all positively identified examples are considered worthy of preservation. Despite some disturbance by past ploughing and partial excavation, the bowl barrow and four hlaews on the summit of Saxon Down survive comparatively well and will contain archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed. The location of the later, Saxon burial mounds around the earlier, prehistoric barrow indicates the continuing importance of this area for burial practices and territorial claims over a period of around 3,000 years.


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


The monument includes a Bronze Age bowl barrow and four Anglo-Saxon hlaews or burial mounds, situated on a chalk hill which forms part of a ridge of the Sussex Downs. The bowl barrow is the largest and most visible of the group, situated at the highest point of the hill, and has a circular mound c.10m in diameter, which survives to a height of 0.5m. A large depression in the centre of the mound indicates that the barrow has been partially excavated some time in the past. Surrounding the mound is a ditch from which material used to construct the barrow was excavated. This has become infilled over the years, but survives as a buried feature c.2m wide. A small fragment of Bronze Age pottery was found in a molehill on the mound in 1930. The most prominent hlaew partially overlies the ditch of the earlier bowl barrow on its eastern side. This is a roughly east-west aligned, oval mound measuring 9.5m by 5.5m, which survives to a height of around 0.3m. The three remaining hlaews are small, bowl shaped mounds between 4.5m-8.5m in diameter and up to 0.3m high. The most westerly of these has a large central hollow, indicating partial excavation. The quarry ditches surrounding each of the hlaews are no longer visible, but survive as buried features c.1m wide.

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: 25481

Legacy System: RSM


Source 2, Grinsell, LV, TQ 41 SW 13/ 170: Desc. Text by Ordnance Survey surveyor, (1930)

End of official listing