Neolithic long barrow, 720m east of Otby House


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1013922

Date first listed: 23-Feb-1996


Ordnance survey map of Neolithic long barrow, 720m east of Otby House
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Lincolnshire

District: West Lindsey (District Authority)

Parish: Walesby

National Grid Reference: TF 14646 93610

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.

Although the long barrow has been degraded by ploughing, rare and valuable archaeological deposits will survive beneath the present ground surface and in the fills of the buried ditch. These will contain information relating to the dating and construction of the monument and the sequence of mortuary ritual at the site. Environmental evidence preserved in the same deposits will contain information on the nature of the landscape in which the monument was constructed and used. The long barrow's proximity to a number of similar monuments associated with the Otby Beck and with the prehistoric trackway now formalised as High Street is indicative of the ritual significance of the location and poses wider questions concerning communications during the Neolithic period. The frequency of these monuments in this area has wider implications for the study of prehistoric demography and settlement patterns.


The monument includes the buried remains of a Neolithic long barrow located 160m above sea level below the summit of a plateau on the western side of the valley of the Otby Beck, 720m east of Otby House. Although the monument is not visible on the ground it has been recorded on aerial photographs as a soilmark representing the buried archaeological deposits. The central area is roughly rectangular in plan with concave sides and rounded ends and measures approximately 50m by 30m. The mound which would have covered this area has been degraded by ploughing and is thought to be overlain by medieval ridge and furrow cultivation, but it is considered that the remains of pits and structures associated with funerary rituals carried out before the mound was built, will survive as archaeological features beneath the present ground surface. Air photographic evidence indicates that the monument was encircled by a substantial ditch broken by a causeway to the north west. This ditch form is characteristic of the elaborated type of Lincolnshire long barrow which began with the delineation of an enclosure set aside for mortuary activities. When the rituals enacted within the enclosure were completed, it was covered with a mound, the material for which was quarried from the surrounding ditch. The air photographic evidence shows thickening of the side ditches. This is thought to indicate that they were recut at least once, an activity which suggests that the monument remained a focus of attention for a long period after it was built. The long barrow is one of a large number of similar monuments associated with the Otby Beck is located c.500m to the west of High Street which originated as a prehistoric trackway.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 5 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: 27873

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Renfrew, C, Before Civilization, (1973), 146-51
Phillips, C W, 'Archaeologia' in Excavation of Giants' Hills Long Barrow, Skendleby, Lincs., , Vol. 85, (1936), 37-106
oblique monochrome photographs, Everson, P, 2964/16, 17, (1980)

End of official listing