Oval barrow, the south-eastern of two on Stoughton Down


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010919

Date first listed: 02-Aug-1955

Date of most recent amendment: 31-Mar-1992


Ordnance survey map of Oval barrow, the south-eastern of two on Stoughton Down
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: West Sussex

District: Chichester (District Authority)

Parish: Stoughton

National Park: SOUTH DOWNS

National Grid Reference: SU 82342 12047


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

Reasons for Designation

Oval barrows are funerary and ceremonial monuments of the Early to Middle Neolithic periods, with the majority of dated monuments belonging to the later part of the range. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds of roughly elliptical plan, usually delimited by quarry ditches. These ditches can vary from paired "banana-shaped" ditches flanking the mound to "U-shaped" or unbroken oval ditches nearly or wholly encircling it. Along with the long barrows, oval barrows 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, oval barrows have produced two distinct types of burial rite: communal burials of groups of individuals, including adults and children, laid directly on the ground surface before the barrow was built; and burials of one or two adults interred in a grave pit centrally placed beneath the barrow mound. Certain sites provide evidence for several phases of funerary monument preceding the barrow and, consequently, it is probable that they may have acted as important ritual sites for local communities over a considerable period of time. Similarly, as the filling of the ditches around oval barrows often contains deliberately placed deposits of pottery, flintwork and bone, periodic ceremonial activity may have taken place at the barrow subsequent to its construction. Oval barrows are very rare nationally, with less than 50 recorded examples in England. As one of the few types of Neolithic structure to survive as earthworks, and due to their rarity, their considerable age and their longevity as a monument type, all oval barrows are considered to be nationally important.

Although the oval barrow on Stoughton Down has been disturbed by rabbits and by partial excavation, and slightly truncated by agricultural activities, it nevertheless survives well and retains considerable archaeological potential for the recovery of evidence of the manner and duration of its use. Its proximity to another similar barrow, an unusual grouping for this type of monument, adds to its importance and illustrates the significance of the locality for burials in the Neolithic period.


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


The monument includes the mound and flanking ditches of an oval barrow located just west of the crest of Stoughton Down. The mound measures some 24m in length and 15m in width at the widest point. It stands at most around 2m above the level of the surrounding ground. Although the ditches are not now visible on the surface, when the barrow was surveyed in 1925 they were clearly seen to flank the long sides of the mound and to turn inwards at the ends. They did not join at the ends but remained as separate features some 3m in width at the surface. A slot 0.5m wide was cut across the ditch of the barrow in 1980 to confirm the presence of the ditch, during which excavation several flint tools were recovered.

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: 12852

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Drewett, P, Rescue archaeology in Sussex, 198021-47
County Site No. 0934,

End of official listing