Long barrow on Therfield Heath


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Long barrow on Therfield Heath
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. 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 - 1010428 .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 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 period.

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

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].