Aldington Knoll Roman barrow and later beacon
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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This copy shows the entry on 20-Oct-2019 at 04:18:57.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Ashford (District Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- TR 07081 35258
Reasons for Designation
Earthen barrows are the most visually spectacular survivals of a wide variety
of funerary monuments in Britain dating to the Roman period. Constructed as
steep-sided conical mounds, usually of considerable size and occasionally with
an encircling bank or ditch, they covered one or more burials, generally
believed to be those of high-ranking individuals. The burials were mainly
cremations, although inhumations have been recorded, and were often deposited
with accompanying grave goods in chambers or cists constructed of wood, tile
or stone sealed beneath the barrow mound. Occasionally the mound appears to
have been built directly over a funeral pyre. The barrows usually occur
singly, although they can be grouped into "cemeteries" of up to ten examples.
They are sited in a variety of locations but often occur near Roman roads. A
small number of barrows were of particularly elaborate construction, with
masonry revetment walls or radial internal walls. Roman barrows are rare
nationally, with less than 150 recorded examples, and are generally restricted
to lowland England with the majority in East Anglia. The earliest examples
date to the first decades of the Roman occupation and occur mainly within this
East Anglian concentration. It has been suggested that they are the graves of
native British aristocrats who chose to perpetuate aspects of Iron Age burial
practice. The majority of the barrows were constructed in the early second
century AD but by the end of that century the fashion for barrow building
appears to have ended. Occasionally the barrows were re-used when secondary
Anglo-Saxon burials were dug into the mound. Many barrows were subjected to
cursory investigation by antiquarians in the 19th century and, as little
investigation to modern standards has taken place, they remain generally
poorly understood. As a rare monument type which exhibits a wide diversity of
burial tradition all Roman barrows, unless significantly damaged, are
identified as nationally important.
Although the Aldington Knoll barrow has been disturbed by partial excavation, it has at the same time been protected by overlying soil so that the form of the barrow will be unusually well preserved. Its archaeological potential is therefore high, since it represents a rare survival of a Roman barrow not subject to the normal damage caused by erosion. Added importance is lent to the barrow by its position as an outlier to the main concentration of such monuments.
The monument includes a large artificial mound of earth which has been
identified in the past as both a burial mound dating from the Roman
period and a beacon. The mound in its present form was created by the
heightening of an existing burial mound at the summit of a natural hill
which overlooks the former coastline now infilled to form Romney Marsh.
The form of the barrow is not known, but the later enlargement took the
somewhat unusual form of a trianglar mound approximately 50m long on
each side. A landslip on the southern side has resulted in the present
horned appearance of the mound in plan. The mound now stands over 3m
above the level of the surrounding land, and would originally have
stood to a greater height before it was disturbed by partial excavation
and by military use during World War II.
Part of the mound was disturbed in 1755 when excavations unearthed the
cremated remains of a body accompanied by a quantity of bronzework which
may have formed a stool as found in other Roman burials. No other
evidence of the date of the burial was recorded.
The identification of the mound as a beacon relies largely upon oral
tradition: no visible evidence of such a use in antiquity survives. The
most recent use of the mound was as an anti-aircraft emplacement in the
Second World War, as a result of which use a depression in the summit
and a long slit-trench extending into the wood to the north are clearly
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
TR03 NE4, TR03 NE4,
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