A pair of bowl barrows forming part of a linear round barrow cemetery, and a hlaew on Rookery Hill


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009952

Date first listed: 11-Feb-1958

Date of most recent amendment: 12-Jan-1995


Ordnance survey map of A pair of bowl barrows forming part of a linear round barrow cemetery, and a hlaew on Rookery Hill
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1009952 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 14-Dec-2018 at 14:48:25.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: East Sussex

District: Lewes (District Authority)

Parish: Seaford

National Park: SOUTH DOWNS

National Grid Reference: TQ 46705 00960


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

Reasons for Designation

Round barrow cemeteries date to the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). They comprise closely-spaced groups of up to 30 round barrows - rubble or earthen mounds covering single or multiple burials. Most cemeteries developed over a considerable period of time, often many centuries, and in some cases acted as a focus for burials as late as the early medieval period. They exhibit considerable diversity of burial rite, plan and form, frequently including several different types of round barrow, occasionally associated with earlier long barrows. Where large scale investigation has been undertaken around them, contemporary or later "flat" burials between the barrow mounds have often been revealed. Round barrow cemeteries occur across most of lowland Britain, with a marked concentration in Wessex. In some cases, they are clustered around other important contemporary monuments such as henges. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape, whilst their diversity and their longevity as a monument type provide important information on the variety of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving or partly-surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.

Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic 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. There are over 10,000 surviving bowl barrows recorded nationally, and many more have already been destroyed. A hlaew is a burial monument of Anglo-Saxon or Viking date comprising a 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 served as visible and ostentatious markers of their social position. Some 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 skill 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 limited disturbance by modern agricultural activity and partial excavation, the pair of bowl barrows and the hlaew on Rookery Hill survive comparatively well and will contain archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed and used The prehistoric round barrow cemetery of which the two bowl barrows form a part survives particularly well and is one of the best examples of this type of monument to be found on the East Sussex Downs. These prehistoric barrows are the earliest known structures on Rookery Hill, and their close association with later monuments, including nearby traces of subsequent human occupation dating to the Iron Age, the Roman and early medieval periods, provide evidence for the continuity of burial, settlement and agriculture in this area of downland over a period of at least 3,000 years.


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


The monument includes two adjacent, prehistoric bowl barrows, part of a group of six bowl barrows which form a north west-south east aligned, linear round barrow cemetery, and a later, Anglo Saxon hlaew or burial mound. The monument is situated on a spur of the Sussex Downs, a location which commands fine views of the surrounding countryside and the coast to the south west. The south easterly bowl barrow has a sub-circular mound up to 15m in diameter, which survives to a height of up to c.1m. A small area on the south western edge of the barrow mound has been partially flattened by modern ploughing, and a hollow in its centre indicates partial excavation 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 around 2m wide. Lying c.12m to the north west, the second bowl barrow is larger, with a circular mound measuring 19m in diameter and surviving to a height of up to 1.2m. A large, irregular, v-shaped trench has been cut into its surface some years ago. The c.2m wide ditch which surrounds the mound has become infilled, but will survive in buried form beneath the ground. The hlaew has been constructed in the area between the two bowl barrows, partially overlying their quarry ditches. This is a small, north east-south west aligned, oval mound measuring 9m by 6m. The mound, which survives to a height of around 0.5m, has been partially disturbed on its north western edge by cattle poaching or subsequent digging. The c.1m wide ditch which surrounds it is no longer visible but will survive as a buried feature. The modern fence which crosses the monument on its south western side is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it is included.

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: 25485

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Grinsell, L V, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Sussex Barrows, , Vol. 75, (1934), 272
ref. 3, Grinsell, LV, TQ 40 SE B, (1930)
unsure of exact date of discovery, Coad, V, Conversation between R Parker and V Coad 15/03/1994, (1988)

End of official listing