Bowl barrow reused as moot mound in Barkhale Wood


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1012263

Date first listed: 01-Jun-1961

Date of most recent amendment: 10-Jul-1991


Ordnance survey map of Bowl barrow reused as moot mound in Barkhale Wood
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: West Sussex

District: Arun (District Authority)

Parish: Madehurst

County: West Sussex

District: Chichester (District Authority)

Parish: Bignor

County: West Sussex

District: Chichester (District Authority)

Parish: Bury

National Park: SOUTH DOWNS

National Grid Reference: SU 98030 12383

Reasons for Designation

Moots were open-air meeting places set aside for use by courts and other bodies who were responsible for the administration and organisation of the countryside in Anglo-Saxon and medieval England. They were located at convenient, conspicuous or well-known sites, often centrally placed within the area under jurisdiction, usually a hundred, wapentake, or shire. The meeting place could take several forms: a natural feature such as a hilltop, tree or rock; existing man-made features such as prehistoric standing stones, barrows or hillforts; or a purpose-built monument such as a mound. Moots appear to have been first established during the early medieval period between the seventh and ninth centuries AD. Examples are recorded in the Domesday Book and other broadly contemporary documents. Initially, moots were situated in open countryside but, over time, they were relocated in villages or towns. The construction and use of rural moots declined after the 13th century. The normal form of purpose-built moot was the moot mound. These take the form of large, squat, turf-covered mounds with a flat or concave top, usually surrounded by a ditch. Occasionally, prehistoric barrows were remodelled to provide suitable sites. It is estimated that there were between 250 and 1000 moots in medieval England, although only a limited number of these were man- made mounds and only a proportion of these survive today. Moots are generally a poorly understood class of monument with considerable potential to provide information on the organisation and administration of land units in the Middle Ages. They are a comparatively rare and long-lived type of monument and the earliest examples will be amongst a very small range of sites predating the Norman Conquest which survive as monumental earthworks and readily appreciable landscape features. On this basis, all well preserved or historically well documented moot mounds are identified as nationally important.

The barrow in Barkhale Wood which was converted to form the moot belongs to the most numerous type of round barrow and dates from the Late Neolithic or Bronze Age period. Bowl barrows covered burials of individuals or small groups, and can contribute to an understanding of the beliefs and social organisation of early prehistoric communities. The adaptation of the barrow illustrates one way in which prominent places in the landscape were adopted for moots. The barrow retains considerable potential despite its later reuse.


The monument in Barkhale Wood, formerly interpreted as the site of a Norman motte castle, includes a Bronze Age bowl barrow and its surrounding quarry ditch. That the barrow has been modified in the early medieval or medieval period to form a moot mound is signified by the broad, shallow depression in the top of the mound. The barrow mound is circular in plan and measures some 23m in diameter. It stands 2.2m above the level of the surrounding ground. The surrounding ditch is visible only on the south and south-east sides, having been largely infilled by eroded soil from the mound and by leaf litter. Where it is visible, the ditch measures some 2.5m across. The shallow, bowl-shaped depression in the interior was created when the barrow was adapted for use as a moot. This depression is 0.4m deep and 10m in diameter. The Barkhale Wood barrow appears to have been chosen for conversion into a moot mound as it lies at the junction between the parishes of Bignor, Bury, Houghton and Madehurst, the parishes over which the moot court had jurisdiction. The position of the parish boundaries may in fact, have been influenced by the location of the earlier barrow.

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: 12843

Legacy System: RSM


Darvill, T, Monument Class Description - Bowl barrows, 1988,
Monument Class Description - Moot Mounds, (1989)
WS Site No.,

End of official listing