Three hlaews 400m north east of Overhill Lodge


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009960

Date first listed: 18-Jan-1995


Ordnance survey map of Three hlaews 400m north east 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 47569 05993


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

Reasons for Designation

A hlaew is a burial monument of Anglo-Saxon or Viking date and 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.

Although each of the three hlaews 400m north east of Overhill Lodge shows signs of disturbance by partial excavation, they survive comparatively well, and will contain archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed. Their close association with broadly contemporary and earlier, Bronze Age and Neolithic burial mounds along the ridge to the west and east, provides evidence for the continuing importance of this area of downland for funerary and ceremonial practices over of a period of around 3000 years.


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


The monument includes a group of three Anglo-Saxon hlaews or burial mounds, aligned broadly north-south and situated on a ridge of the Sussex Downs, around 1.25km to the south of the village of West Firle. The ridge commands extensive views of the Weald to the north and the English Channel to the south. The northernmost hlaew has a circular mound 9m in diameter and 0.3m high. A slight, central hollow indicates that it has been partially excavated some time in the past. Lying around 13m to the south west, the centrally placed hlaew of the group has a mound 8m in diameter and 0.3m high, also with a slight, central hollow. The southernmost hlaew lies 2m to the south and has a circular mound 7m in diameter and 0.4m high. Partial excavation some years ago has left a large hollow in its centre. Each of the three mounds is surrounded by a ditch from which material used to construct the hlaews was excavated. These have become infilled over the years, but survive as buried features around 1.5m 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: 25493

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Grinsell, L V, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Sussex Barrows, , Vol. 75, (1934), 267

End of official listing