A group of three bowl barrows and an Anglo-Saxon barrow field on The Bostle


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of A group of three bowl barrows and an Anglo-Saxon barrow field on The Bostle
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

The City of Brighton and Hove (Unitary Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
TQ 37157 05420

Reasons for Designation

Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often acted as a focus for burials in later periods. Often superficially similar, although differing widely in size, they exhibit regional variations in form and a diversity of burial practices. There are over 10,000 surviving bowl barrows recorded nationally (many more have already been destroyed), occurring across most of lowland Britain. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape and their considerable variation of form and longevity as a monument type provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisations amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.

Barrow fields are groups of five or more closely-spaced burial mounds dating to the early medieval period. The usually circular mounds, some of which are surrounded by an encircling ditch, were constructed over one or more inhumation burials deposited in east-west aligned, rectangular graves. Cremation burials, sometimes contained within 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 both 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 archaeological information about the social structure, technological development and economic organisation of the people who constructed and used them. All positively identified examples with significant surviving remains are considered worthy of protection. The three bowl barrows and the later barrow field on The Bostle survive comparatively well, despite some disturbance by modern ploughing, and part excavation has shown them to contain archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the construction and use of the monument. The reuse of the location of the prehistoric barrows for the later, early medieval burials indicates the continuing importance of this area of downland as a focus for funerary rites over a period of at least three millenia.


The monument includes three prehistoric bowl barrows and a later, Anglo-Saxon barrow field situated on a chalk ridge which forms part of the Sussex Downs. The most prominent prehistoric barrow lies near the north western edge of the monument and has a mound c.17m in diameter and up to 0.6m high. This has an uneven top, indicating some disturbance by animal burrowing and past excavation. Surrounding the mound is a ditch from which material used to construct the barrow was excavated. This has become infilled over the years, but survives as a buried feature up to 2m wide. Situated 24m to the south is a now mostly levelled prehistoric bowl barrow with a low, uneven mound c.15m in diameter. The smallest bowl barrow of the group lies c.20m to the south east and has a mound c.11m in diameter which survives to a height of up to 0.4m. Both will be surrounded by buried quarry ditches up to c.2m wide. The surroundng, later barrow field consists of at least 27 hlaews, or Anglo-Saxon burial mounds, which can be distinguished from the earlier bowl barrows by their smaller size. These range from 4m to 7.5m in diameter and survive to heights of up to 0.3m. The mounds may be surrounded by buried quarry ditches up to 1m wide. The hlaews situated on the north western, south western and south eastern edges of the monument have been partly levelled by modern ploughing, and the south easternmost hlaew has been levelled by long term use of a downland track which runs along the ridge at this point. Some of the barrows were excavated in 1939 and 1949, when human burials and grave goods, or artefacts deliberately buried with the bodies, were discovered. The modern fence which crosses the monument is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it is included.

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.

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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.

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