Long barrow on Harpley Common, 650m ESE of Cross's Grave


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010558

Date first listed: 21-May-1959

Date of most recent amendment: 27-Jan-1995


Ordnance survey map of Long barrow on Harpley Common, 650m ESE of Cross's Grave
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Norfolk

District: King's Lynn and West Norfolk (District Authority)

Parish: Harpley

National Grid Reference: TF 80935 25105


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 examples of long barrows and long cairns, their counterparts in the uplands, are recorded nationally. 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.

The long barrow on Harpley Common is one of not more than five examples of this class of monument identified in Norfolk as upstanding earthworks. A second lies 192m to the north east, and the association between the two gives both of them additional interest. Although part of the mound has been reduced and part levelled by the construction of the adjacent road, the barrow retains archaeological information of importance in itself and in relation to the information contained in the neighbouring barrow. Evidence for the construction of the barrow and for the manner and duration of its use, as well as for the local environment at that time, will be contained in the mound, in soils preserved beneath the mound and in the buried ditches. The long barrows are located near a dispersed group of later prehistoric round barrows and, with these, provide some evidence for the distribution and development of the prehistoric population of the area.


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


The monument includes the remains of a long barrow located on the south side of the parish boundary between Harpley and West Rudham, on what was formerly heathland. The site is on level ground at the western edge of the Good Sands upland region of north west Norfolk. The barrow is visible in part as a sub-oval earthen mound, standing to a height of c.1.2m and covering an area with maximum dimensions of c.31m north-south by 23m east-west. This is at the southern end of a longer mound, the northern part of which has been much reduced, although the continuation is still marked for a maximum distance of c.12m by a slight rise of c.0.15m in the ground surface. Beyond this, the northern end of the barrow has been obscured by the minor road between Harpley and Weasenham St Peter, which here runs north west-south east along the southern side of the parish boundary. Since the survival and extent of any remains beneath and beyond the road have not been established, however, this part is not included in the scheduling. The mound is surrounded by a ditch which in 1938, before the heath was ploughed, was visible as a hollow c.4.5m wide in the ground surface. The overall maximum dimensions of the barrow south of the road, including the ditch, were recorded at that time as 46m north-south by 27.5m east-west. The ditch is no longer visible, but will survive as a buried feature and is included in the scheduling.

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: 21343

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Hogg, A H A, 'Norfolk Archaeology' in A Long Barrow at West Rudham, Norfolk, , Vol. 27, (1941), 315,316
3637: West Norfolk, Harpley,
AM7, (1958)
Clarke, R R, 3637: West Norfolk, Harpley, (1961)

End of official listing