Spellow Hills long barrow


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


Ordnance survey map of Spellow Hills long barrow
© 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.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1013919 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 19-Oct-2019 at 20:25:48.


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

East Lindsey (District Authority)
Langton By Spilsby
National Grid Reference:
TF 40155 72214

Reasons for Designation

Long barrows were constructed as earthen or drystone mounds, generally with flanking ditches. They acted as funerary monuments during the Early and Middle Neolithic periods (3400-2400 BC), representing the burial places of Britain's early farming communities, and as such are amongst the oldest field monuments surviving 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 activities preceding the construction of the barrow mound, including ditched enclosures containing structures related to various rituals of burial. It is probable, therefore, that long barrows acted as important spiritual sites for their local communities over considerable periods of time. The long barrows of the Lincolnshire Wolds and their adjacent regions have been identified as a distinct regional grouping of monuments in which the flanking ditches are continued around the ends of the barrow mound, either continuously or broken by a single causeway towards one end. More than 60 examples of this type of monument are known; a small number of these survive as earthworks, but the great majority of sites are known as cropmarks and soilmarks recorded on aerial photographs where no mound is evident at the surface. Not all Lincolnshire long barrows include mounds. Current limited understanding of the processes of Neolithic mortuary ritual in Lincolnshire is that the large barrow mound represents the final phase of construction which was not reached by all mortuary monuments. Many of the sites where only the ditched enclosure is known have been interpreted as representing monuments which had fully evolved mounds, but in which the mound itself has been degraded or removed by subsequent agricultural activity. In a minority of cases, however, the ditched enclosure will represent a monument which never developed a burial mound. As a distinctive regional grouping of one of the few types of Neolithic monuments known, these sites are of great value. They were all in use over a great period of time and are thus highly representive of changing cultures of the peoples who built and maintained them. All forms of long barrow on the Lincolnshire Wolds and its adjacent regions are therefore considered to be of national importance and all examples with significant surviving remains are considered worthy of protection.

Spellow Hills long barrow is a substantial and prominent earthwork whose distinctive profile has long been a notable feature in the landscape. Although antiquarian excavations have disturbed the monument, much valuable archaeological information will be preserved beneath the mound and in the fills of the ditch, relating both to the monument's dating construction and to the sequence of burial ritual at the site. Environmental evidence preserved in the same deposits will illustrate the appearance of the landscape in which the monument was set. The monument will also provide insights into the particular concerns of early antiquarian investigators. Spellow Hills is one of a number of similar monuments which are associated with a tributary of the River Lymn. These locational associations pose wider questions concerning the ritual nature of the area and have significant implications for the study of communication, settlement patterns and demography during the Neolithic period.


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a Neolithic long barrow located about 82m above sea level, on a southern slope above and to the west of the A16 Alford-Spilsby road, c.500m south east of Langton Grange Farm. The barrow, known as Spellow Hills, or Hills of the Slain, was originally thought to be three adjoining round barrows, an impression given by the extremely uneven surface, caused by antiquarian excavations in the 19th century or earlier. It is aligned SSE-NNW and is roughly trapezoidal in shape, measuring approximately 55m long by 12m wide, the maximum height being c.2.1m. Material for the mound would have been quarried from an encircling causewayed ditch. This is not visible but is thought to survive buried beneath the present ground surface. No written account of the antiquarian investigations has survived other than a reference in White's Lincolnshire Directory of 1882 which refers to a quantity of human bones having been discovered there. The barrow is known to have had its present appearance when it was documented by Stukeley in the 18th century. Two trenches have been cut into the mound from the north east but neither reach the original ground surface, or the south west side of the earthwork. Inroads into the mound have also been made at two points on the north eastern flank, in the centre and at the southern end of the mound, and there has been quarrying into the western flank from the north west.

Oral tradition has preserved various accounts of the origins and use of the Spellow Hills barrow, one of which suggests that an intrusive burial of Anglo- Saxon date was discovered prior to 1855.

A second long barrow, identified from aerial photographic survey in the vicinity of Spellow Hills, and situated c.300m to the south west, is the subject of a separate scheduling. It is thought that these monuments form part of a group of long barrows associated with the valley of one of the tributaries of the River Lymn.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 10 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
Meaney, A L, 'Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society' in Gazetteer Of Hundred And Wapentake Meeting-Places In Cambs. 1992-3, , Vol. 82, (1993), 67-93
Phillips, C W, 'Archaeological Journal' in The Long Barrows of Lincolnshire, , Vol. 89, (1933), 193-6


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

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].