Oval barrow above Charleston Bottom 1080m south east of Chamber's Court


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014385

Date first listed: 08-Jan-1979

Date of most recent amendment: 09-May-1996


Ordnance survey map of Oval barrow above Charleston Bottom 1080m south east of Chamber's Court
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: East Sussex

District: Wealden (District Authority)

Parish: Cuckmere Valley

National Park: SOUTH DOWNS

National Grid Reference: TQ 53562 00648


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

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.

Despite having been reduced in height by agricultural activities and erosion, the barrow still holds considerable archaeological potential because the primary burial pit, the old ground surface and the flanking quarry ditches, each of which contains evidence of the manner and duration of use of the monument, are likely to survive undisturbed by the plough.


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


This monument, an oval barrow or burial mound dating from the Neolithic period, includes both a low earthen mound, oval in shape and up to 0.5m in height, and a surrounding ditch, now infilled, from which earth and chalk for the construction of the mound was quarried. The mound, which is orientated south west-north east, measures some 24m in length and 16m in width, although this unusual width is partly the result of erosion which has spread the mound to a significant degree. The former quarry ditches have been filled and partly covered by soil eroded from the mound so that it is not possible from surface indications to determine whether the mound was surrounded by a continuous ditch or flanked by ditches on either side. Both configurations are known in south east England. Although this monument does not survive in its original dimensions, its distinctive oval shape allows it to be classified as a Neolithic burial mound and indicates that it is likely to have preceded the nearby Bronze Age round barrow, perhaps by several centuries. Unlike many examples of such Neolithic monuments, this oval barrow is not sited prominently on a hill crest or spur but lies instead on gently sloping land above a shallow coomb.

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: 12794

Legacy System: RSM


TQ 50 SW 62,

End of official listing