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 long
barrows are recorded in England. 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.
This example has a particularly well-preserved burial chamber and is also of
high archaeological potential due to the survival of the remains of the burial
mound and the flanking ditches. The burial chamber having been taken into
guardianship, the monument is also of high amenity value.
The Long Barrow is situated on level ground at the crest of the North Downs
overlooking the Medway valley. It is oriented approximately E-W, with the
stone chamber near the eastern end.
The most distinctive feature of the monument is the H-shaped arrangement of 3
large sarsen slabs, capped by a further slab, which formed the main burial
chamber of the Long Barrow. Although these large stones, or megaliths, now
stand unsupported, they are believed originally to have been buried within a
large, elongated earthen mound, of which only traces survive today. The mound
was some 80m in length and 12-15m in width and was probably broader at the
eastern end than at the western end. Earth and chalk for the construction of
this mound was quarried from the now-infilled flanking ditches which run
parallel to it. These quarry ditches are more clearly visible on aerial
photographs than on the ground. Such photographs indicate that the northern
ditch extended for the full length of the mound while the southern ditch was
shorter, not extending as far as either end of the mound.
The monument has been the subject of enquiry since 1570, but no satisfactory
explanation for the name has yet been found. Historical accounts suggest that
the mound was surrounded by a revetment of sarsens positioned at intervals,
some of which may survive beneath the ploughsoil but most of which have been
unearthed and/or destroyed, the latest as recently as 1947. Although no bones
have been reported by any of the investigators of the monument, the strong
similarity with other examples which have yielded such evidence allows the
safe interpretation of Kit's Coty House as a Neolithic burial monument.
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.