Long barrow on Therfield Heath
- 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 19-Oct-2019 at 08:23:55.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- North Hertfordshire (District Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- TL 34151 40166
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.
Despite partial excavation on two separate occasions, the Therfield Heath long barrow survives comparatively well in close association with a later round barrow cemetery. Combined, these give an indication of the development of later Prehistoric society and the intensity of settlement in this area of downland.
The monument includes a long barrow situated on the crest of a north-facing
slope on Therfield Heath, nearly 100m south-east of a Bronze Age round barrow
cemetery. It includes a trapezoidal earthern mound aligned east-west and
measuring 45m in length by 22m across at the eastern end and narrowing
slightly to 15m at the western end. In height the mound measures c.2m at the
western end rising to c.3m at the broader eastern end. Although no longer
visible at ground level, flanking quarry ditches, from which the material was
quarried during the construction of the monument, run parallel to the north
and south sides of the mound. These have become infilled over the years but
survive as buried features c.2m wide.
The barrow was partially excavated by E B Nunn in 1855 and again in 1935 by
C W Phillips. One cremation and one inhumation were uncovered at the eastern
end of the barrow whilst at the western end two cists and another inhumation
were discovered. Recorded finds included pottery from the Early Bronze Age
and the Early Iron Age, an iron spearhead and a metal band which would have
been fitted to the end of a stick, known as a ferrule, from the Anglo-Saxon
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 No TL 63 SE 9, Information from NAR,
Phillips, C W, PPS Excavation Report, (1935)
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