Aldington Knoll Roman barrow and later beacon


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Aldington Knoll Roman barrow and later beacon
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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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 visible.

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

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