Roman barrow 125m south west of Leath House


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1013092

Date first listed: 19-Jan-1962

Date of most recent amendment: 26-Sep-1995


Ordnance survey map of Roman barrow 125m south west of Leath House
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This copy shows the entry on 21-Nov-2018 at 17:45:18.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Norfolk

District: King's Lynn and West Norfolk (District Authority)

Parish: Burnham Thorpe

National Grid Reference: TF 85264 42667


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

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.

The Roman barrow south west of Leath House remains an impressive monument, even though the original height of the mound has been reduced by cultivation, and the rectangular form and triple ditches of the enclosure, which contains the mound, are very unusual features. The investigation which was carried out in 1862 was limited in extent, and the parts of the mound which have not been disturbed will retain archaeological information concerning the construction of the barrow and the manner of the burial within it. Evidence for land use prior to the construction of the barrow will also be contained in soils buried beneath the mound, and deposits in the bottom of the buried ditches are likely to have remained waterlogged and to have preserved organic material, including evidence for the local environment at that time.


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


The monument includes a Roman barrow located c.6.5km WSW of the Roman fort of Branodunum (Brancaster) on low lying, heavy clay land c.1.5km west of the Roman road which ran southwards from the coast to Toftrees and c.650m from the River Burn to the south west. The barrow is visible as a very large earthen mound standing to a height of c.3.5m and covering a circular area c.70m in diameter. The mound was originally higher but has been reduced and spread by cultivation since the early 19th century. It stands within a rectangular enclosure with internal dimensions of c.82m square, surrounded by three concentric ditches c.5m wide and spaced c.8m-10m apart. These ditches have become completely infilled but survive as buried features which have formed crop marks and been recorded by means of aerial photography on the north, east and south sides of the enclosure. The barrow is identified as one investigated by the Earl of Orford in 1862, when a broad east-west trench was cut through the centre of the mound, with an extension from the centre southwards. The excavation uncovered fragments of Roman pottery and the remains of a chamber c.2.75m square with walls of chalk and flints, and many pieces of roof tile. Within the chamber there was earth reddened by burning and charcoal and thought to have been the remains of a cremation.

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: 21379

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Lee-Warner, J, 'The Norfolk Chronicle' in Letter to Editor of the Norfolk Chronicle, (1862)
1778: West Norfolk, Burnham Thorpe, (1974)
RAF 3023Y (7th June, 1946), (1946)

End of official listing