A saucer barrow, a bowl barrow and a pair of hlaews 350m north west of Overhill Lodge


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009959

Date first listed: 18-Jan-1995


Ordnance survey map of A saucer barrow, a bowl barrow and a pair of hlaews 350m north west of Overhill Lodge
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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: Firle

National Park: SOUTH DOWNS

National Grid Reference: TQ 47175 05969


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Reasons for Designation

Saucer barrows are funerary monuments of the Early Bronze Age, most examples dating to between 1800 and l200 BC. They occur either in isolation or in barrow cemeteries (closely-spaced groups of round barrows). They were constructed as a circular area of level ground defined by a bank and internal ditch and largely occupied by a single low, squat mound covering one or more burials, usually in a pit. The burials, either inhumations or cremations, are sometimes accompanied by pottery vessels, tools and personal ornaments. Saucer barrows are one of the rarest recognised forms of round barrow, with about 60 known examples nationally, most of which are in Wessex. The presence of grave goods within the barrows provides important evidence for chronological and cultural links amongst prehistoric communities over a wide area of southern England as well as providing an insight into their beliefs and social organisation. As a rare and fragile form of round barrow, all identified saucer barrows would normally be considered to be of national importance.

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. There are over 10,000 surviving bowl barrows recorded nationally, and many more have already been destroyed. Hlaews are burial monuments 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 may 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. Although they have been partially disturbed by army activity during World War II, the barrows and hlaews 350m north west of Overhill Lodge 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. This close spatial association of funerary monuments from the Bronze Age and Anglo Saxon period, and the presence of further, broadly contemporary monuments along the ridge to the west and east, illustrate the continuing importance of this area of downland for burial and ceremonial practices over a period of around 3000 years.


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The monument includes a group of burial mounds comprising a saucer barrow, bowl barrow, and two Anglo Saxon hlaews situated on a ridge of the Sussex Downs. The ridge, which lies around 1.25km to the south of the village of West Firle, commands extensive views of the Weald to the north and the English Channel to the south. The easternmost barrow of the group is a saucer barrow which has a central, circular area of uneven ground measuring 20m in diameter, enclosed by a ditch 3m wide and up to c.0.3m deep. This survives particularly well to the south, but has become partially infilled over the years on its northern side, surviving there in buried form. The ditch is in turn encircled by a low, outer bank 1m wide and up to 0.2m high on its southern side, although it has been levelled to the north. Adjoining the north western edge of the saucer barrow is a bowl barrow, which has a horseshoe-shaped mound 11m in diameter and up to 0.7m high. The mound was adapted for artillery use by the army during World War II, when this area of downland was used as a training ground, with the result that its original circular shape has been partially disturbed by the excavation of a large hollow in its eastern side. Surrounding the mound is a ditch from which material used to construct the barrow was excavated. This has become partially infilled, but survives as a buried feature around 2m wide. Around 20m to the south west, on the opposite side of an adjacent, north west-south east aligned, downland track is the westernmost hlaew. This has a small, roughly circular mound 8m in diameter and 0.4m high, which has been partially disturbed by a small excavation on its eastern side some time in the past. The mound is surrounded by a now infilled ditch around 1m wide. The second hlaew lies c.18m to the south east, and has a small mound c.6m in diameter and 0.3m high. Its surrounding ditch has also become infilled over the years, but will survive below ground as a buried feature around 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: 25492

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Grinsell, L V, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Sussex Barrows, , Vol. 75, (1934), 266-267
F2 NKB, TQ 40 NE 6 C, (1972)
Ordnance Survey surveyor F2 NKB, TQ 40 SE 6 D, (1972)

End of official listing