Long mortuary enclosure on Tennyson Down, 800m west of Freshwater Bay House


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015623

Date first listed: 07-Apr-1997


Ordnance survey map of Long mortuary enclosure on Tennyson Down, 800m west of Freshwater Bay House
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Isle of Wight (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Freshwater

National Grid Reference: SZ 33627 85568


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

Reasons for Designation

Long mortuary enclosures are oblong-shaped enclosures up to 150m in length, surrounded by narrow, fairly straight ditches with slightly rounded corners, containing an open space edged by a perimeter bank set within the ditch. Characteristically there are two or more major causeways across the ditch which served as entrances. Most long mortuary enclosures are orientated within 45 degrees of an east-west alignment. Long mortuary enclosures are generally associated with human burials dated to the Early and Middle Neolithic periods (c.3200-2500 BC). There are approximately 35 examples recorded in England. The greatest concentration lies in Essex and Suffolk, but there are also examples along the Thames and in Warwickshire along the Avon; two isolated examples have been recorded in Northumberland. Long mortuary enclosures are very rare nationally and all surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.

The long mortuary enclosure on Tennyson Down on the Isle of Wight survives well, and is known from limited excavation to contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed. This mortuary enclosure is the only recorded example of its class on the Isle of Wight, and is the most southerly example recorded in Britain.


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


The monument includes a long mortuary enclosure on an east facing hillside overlooking the sea on the south west coast of the Isle of Wight. The mortuary enclosure, seen as an oval earthwork aligned east-west, has a central area 24m east-west and 9m north-south. Surrounding this area is a bank 5m wide and 0.25m high, when measured from inside the enclosure, with a gap 2.5m wide on the east side. Surrounding the internal bank on its east, west and south sides, is a ditch 4m wide and 0.4m deep. The height from the bottom of the ditch to the top of the bank is 0.5m, and there is a gap in the ditch on the east side corresponding to the gap in the internal bank. On the north side of the monument the ditch appears as an extended shallow pit which blends into the contours of the hillside with no obvious north edge. In 1989 Mr F Basford recut and examined a section revealed by a World War II trench bisecting the monument. A sample of wood charcoal sieved from the primary infill of the flanking ditch of the monument gave a radiocarbon date of 3980 +/- 70 years BP. This date calibrates to approximately 2865 to 2290 cal BC.

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: 22067

Legacy System: RSM


OxA 3076 Date list, RadioCarbon, (1992)

End of official listing