Long barrow on Therfield Heath


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010428

Date first listed: 10-Aug-1923

Date of most recent amendment: 16-Jul-1992


Ordnance survey map of Long barrow on Therfield Heath
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Hertfordshire

District: North Hertfordshire (District Authority)

Parish: Therfield

National Grid Reference: TL 34151 40166


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

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.


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


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: 20635

Legacy System: RSM


NAR No TL 63 SE 9, Information from NAR,
Phillips, C W, PPS Excavation Report, (1935)

End of official listing