Oval barrow on Cliffe Hill 200m south of Bridgwick Pit


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


Ordnance survey map of Oval barrow on Cliffe Hill 200m south of Bridgwick Pit
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

East Sussex
Lewes (District Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
TQ 43142 11000

Reasons for Designation

Oval barrows are funerary and ceremonial monuments of the Early to Middle Neolithic periods, with the majority of dated monuments belonging to the later part of the range. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds of roughly elliptical plan, usually delimited by quarry ditches. These ditches can vary from paired "banana-shaped" ditches flanking the mound to "U-shaped" or unbroken oval ditches nearly or wholly encircling it. Along with the long barrows, oval barrows 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, oval barrows have produced two distinct types of burial rite: communal burials of groups of individuals, including adults and children, laid directly on the ground surface before the barrow was built; and burials of one or two adults interred in a grave pit centrally placed beneath the barrow mound. Certain sites provide evidence for several phases of funerary monument preceding the barrow and, consequently, it is probable that they may have acted as important ritual sites for local communities over a considerable period of time. Similarly, as the filling of the ditches around oval barrows often contains deliberately placed deposits of pottery, flintwork and bone, periodic ceremonial activity may have taken place at the barrow subsequent to its construction. Oval barrows are very rare nationally, with less than 50 recorded examples in England. As one of the few types of Neolithic structure to survive as earthworks, and due to their rarity, their considerable age and their longevity as a monument type, all oval barrows are considered to be nationally important.

This example is one of the best surviving oval barrows yet identified in the South-East. Since most of the monument survives intact it remains of high archaeological potential despite the former attentions of antiquarian excavators.


The monument on Cliffe Hill includes an oval barrow of Neolithic date. It comprises not only the highly visible earthen mound but also the largely infilled ditches which flank the mound. The mound itself is orientated SE-NW, measures 32m in length, 18m in width and survives to an impressive 3m above the level of the surrounding land at the higher NW end. Even where an old partial excavation has caused a pronounced hollow in the top of the mound, approximately half-way along its length, the mound remains nearly 2m high. This excavation scar occupies the central 6m of the mound, and the spoil from the trench lies heaped on the SW side of the mound causing it to bulge significantly. The crescent-shaped flanking ditches are visible on both sides of the mound, although less so on the western side where the old spoil heap obscures the ditch. Their positions are marked by depressions 5m across and up to 1 deep, and each extends the full length of the mound. Their ends are separated by causeways 12m in width. These ditches, originally much deeper than at present, would have provided the earth and chalk for the construction of the mound. On the western side of the mound, a linear raised area of turf marks the position of a water-pipe which terminates at a stop-cock and metal cover near the NW end of the mound. This water-pipe, the earth immediately over it and the metal stop-cock cover are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath is included.

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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Toms, H S, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in The Long Barrows of Sussex, , Vol. 63, (1922), 157-9
TQ41 SW20,


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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