Fifield long barrow


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


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

Cotswold (District Authority)
Great Rissington
West Oxfordshire (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SP 21694 18659

Reasons for Designation

Long barrows were constructed as earthen or drystone mounds with flanking ditches and acted as funerary monuments during the Early and Middle Neolithic periods (3400-2400 BC). They 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, 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 monument preceding the barrow and, consequently, it is probable that long barrows acted as important ritual sites for local communities over a considerable period of time. Some 500 examples of long barrows and long cairns, their counterparts in the uplands, are recorded nationally. As one of the few types of Neolithic structure to survive as earthworks, and due to their comparative rarity, their considerable age and their longevity as a monument type, all long barrows are considered to be nationally important.

Despite having been partly excavated on two occasions, the Fifield barrow survives well and is known to contain a passage and at least two chambers. It will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction and the landscape in which it was built. The barrow is unusual because it is believed that it was constructed without flanking quarry ditches. The brick built bomb shelter contributes to the visibility of the monument and documents a separate phase in land use and management in the history of the site.


The monument includes a Neolithic chambered long barrow situated on a slight ridge which is now much landscaped and levelled to form the Little Rissington Airfield. Originally the ridge ran north east-south west and the barrow is aligned along it with its wider front at the north east end. The barrow survives as a visible earthen mound 48m long and 28m across at its widest point. It varies in height from 0.5m at its south west end to 1.8m near the middle. Part excavation in 1934 confirmed that the barrow included a stone built passage from its north east end which ran c.20m into the barrow where it terminated in a small chamber. This had been excavated at an earlier date. The resulting trench can still be seen as a slight depression 23m in length running along the axis of the mound. A further chamber built into the side of the mound was also identified in early excavations. Some stone can still be seen protruding through the slumped back-fill of these trenches. It is thought likely that the mound was constructed from stone and turf collected over a wide area. The common tradition of digging quarry ditches does not seem to have been practiced here. During World War II, when the airfield was built, the barrow was left largely undisturbed although a brick bomb shelter was built into the north west side of the mound. The remains of this are still visible above ground, and are included in the scheduling.

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:


PRN 1450 note 2, C.A.O., FIFIELD LONG BARROW, (1977)
PRN 1450 Note 2a, C.A.O., FIFIELD LONG BARROW, (1977)
PRN 1450 Note 2b, C.A.O., FIFIELD LONG BARROW, (1977)
PRN 1450 Note 2c, C.A.O., FIFIELD LONG BARROW, (1977)
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:10000 Series Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Sheet SP 21 NW


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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