Part of Western Brow round barrow cemetery and an Anglo-Saxon barrow field 690m south of Westmeston Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014633

Date first listed: 27-Jan-1967

Date of most recent amendment: 08-Jul-1996


Ordnance survey map of Part of Western Brow round barrow cemetery and an Anglo-Saxon barrow field 690m south of Westmeston Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: East Sussex

District: Lewes (District Authority)

Parish: Westmeston

National Park: SOUTH DOWNS

National Grid Reference: TQ 33873 12819

Reasons for Designation

Round barrow cemeteries date to the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). They comprise closely-spaced groups of up to 30 round barrows - rubble or earthen mounds covering single or multiple burials. Most cemeteries developed over a considerable period of time, often many centuries, and in some cases acted as a focus for burials as late as the early medieval period. They exhibit considerable diversity of burial rite, plan and form, frequently including several different types of round barrow, occasionally associated with earlier long barrows. Where large scale investigation has been undertaken around them, contemporary or later "flat" burials between the barrow mounds have often been revealed. Round barrow cemeteries occur across most of lowland Britain, with a marked concentration in Wessex. In some cases, they are clustered around other important contemporary monuments such as henges. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape, whilst their diversity and their longevity as a monument type provide important information on the variety of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving or partly-surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.

Bowl barrows are the most numerous form of round barrow and date from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age. Most examples were constructed in the period 2400-1500 BC. They occur across most of lowland Britain and, although superficially similar in appearance, exhibit regional variations of form and a diversity of burial practices. Barrow fields are groups of between five and 300 closely-spaced hlaews, or burial mounds, dating to the early medieval period. The usually circular mounds, some of which are surrounded by an encircling ditch, covered one or more inhumation burials. These were deposited in west-east aligned, rectangular graves cut into the underlying bedrock. Cremation burials, sometimes deposited in pottery urns, have also been found. Many burials were furnished with accompanying grave goods, including jewellery and weapons, and, at two sites, wooden ships were discovered within large mounds. Most barrow fields were in use during the pagan Anglo-Saxon period between the sixth and seventh centuries AD, although barrows dating to the fifth and eighth centuries AD have also been found. The distribution of barrow fields is concentrated within south eastern England, particularly in prominent locations on the Kent and Sussex Downs. However, one Viking barrow field dating to the late ninth century AD is known in Derbyshire, and the two barrow fields containing known ship burials are located near river estuaries in Suffolk. Barrow fields are a rare monument type, with only around 40 examples known nationally. They provide important and otherwise rare archaeolgical information about the people who constructed and used them. All positively identified examples with significant surviving remains are considered worthy of protection. The part of Western Brow round barrow cemetery and barrow field which is 690m south of Westmeston Farm survives comparatively well, despite some disturbance by vehicle erosion and scrub growth, and will contain archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed.


The monument includes three bowl barrows situated at the western end of a linear round barrow cemetery dating to the prehistoric period, which runs from west to east along a ridge of the Sussex Downs, and four hlaews, or Anglo-Saxon burial mounds, forming the western half of a barrow field. A hummocky area along the northern side of the monument represents the remains of further, partly disturbed barrows. The Anglo-Saxon burial mounds, constructed many centuries after the round barrow cemetery, cluster around the larger, earlier bowl barrows. The three bowl barrows have circular mounds between 8m-10m in diameter, each surviving to a height of up to c.0.7m. The mounds, which have central hollows indicating part excavation some time in the past, are surrounded by ditches from which material used in their construction was excavated. These are no longer visible, having become infilled over the years, but will survive as buried features c.2m wide. The easternmost bowl barrow has been partly disturbed on its southern side by vehicle erosion. The three easterly Anglo-Saxon hlaews have low, roughly circular mounds c.4m in diameter. The westernmost, largest hlaew has a roughly west-east aligned, oval mound measuring c.12m by c.7m, and shows signs of past, part excavation. Each mound is around 0.3m high and will have a buried quarry ditch c.1m wide.

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: 27051

Legacy System: RSM


RCHME, TQ 31 SW 23, (1934)
source 2, RCHME, TQ 31 SW 23, (1934)

End of official listing