West Rudham long barrow


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010559

Date first listed: 19-Mar-1951

Date of most recent amendment: 04-Jan-1995


Ordnance survey map of West Rudham long barrow
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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: West Rudham

National Grid Reference: TF 81037 25336


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.

West Rudham long barrow is the best documented and one of the best preserved examples of this class of monument out of a maximum of five known to survive as upstanding earthworks in Norfolk. The limited excavations carried out on the barrow investigated less than 25% of the area of the barrow as a whole, which will retain further important archaeological information concerning its construction and use, including evidence for activity prior to the construction of the mound. Evidence for the local environment in the Neolithic period will also be preserved in the soils buried beneath the raised platform at the southern end of the barrow, in the mound and in the lower fill of the ditches. A second long barrow is sited c.190m SSW of the monument and the association between the two gives both of them additional interest and importance.


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


The monument includes a long barrow located on heathland 190m north east of the parish boundary between West Rudham and Harpley. The site is on level ground at the western edge of the Good Sands upland region of north west Norfolk. The barrow is visible as a trapezoidal mound measuring c.66m in length on a NNE-SSW axis and widening from c.16m at the northern end to c.21m at the southern end. It stands to a maximum height of c.1.5m south of the mid-point on the axis, shelving gradually to the south and decreasing to c.1m in the northern half. Along the eastern and western edges of the mound, slight linear hollows up to 4m wide in the ground surface mark the location of a surrounding ditch which has become largely infilled but which survives as a buried feature. The identification of the monument was confirmed and some details of its structure established by limited excavations carried out in 1937 and 1938 on behalf of the Norfolk Research Committee. The mound was found to have been built of turves overlain with gravel from the ditch, and beneath it is an oblong enclosure with internal dimensions of 46m by 16.5m, surrounded by the ditch which is up to 3.5m wide and c.1.2m deep. The ditch across the southern end of the enclosure is, however, separated from the ditch around the other three sides by partial causeways at either end and, unlike the latter, was entirely covered when the mound was constructed. Within the enclosure, at the southern end, was an earthen platform c.0.3m in height above the original ground surface and on the platform was an area discoloured by burning. Adjoining the southern end of the enclosure, beneath the shelving end of the mound, is an apsidal enclosure or forecourt area measuring c.11m north-south by 14m east-west, defined by a smaller ditch, between 0.9m and 2.5m in width and c.0.45m deep. The principal features observed in this area were a pit c.0.45m deep, connected to a gully, both being aligned on the longitudinal axis of the barrow.

A boundary fence which impinges on the southern edge of the monument is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it is included.

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: 21344

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Hogg, A H A, 'Norfolk Archaeology' in A Long Barrow at West Rudham, Norfolk, , Vol. 27, (1941), 315-331
Sainty, J E, Watson, A Q, Clarke, R R, 'Norfolk Archaeology' in The First Norfolk Long Barrow, , Vol. 26, (1938), 315-329

End of official listing