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An unenclosed Iron Age urnfield and associated remains on Rackham Hill, 900m SSE of Rackham Farm

List Entry Summary

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.

Name: An unenclosed Iron Age urnfield and associated remains on Rackham Hill, 900m SSE of Rackham Farm

List entry Number: 1015721


The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: West Sussex

District: Horsham

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Parham

National Park: SOUTH DOWNS

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 09-Nov-1961

Date of most recent amendment: 24-Sep-1997

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 29257

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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

Reasons for Designation

Unenclosed Iron Age urnfields are burial grounds without a delimiting boundary comprising two or more cremations. Most contain less than ten graves, although examples with up to 455 burials have been discovered. Contemporary inhumation burials have also been found in some urnfields. They represent a return to the predominance of the cremation burial rite during the Late Iron Age, from the mid first century BC up to (and beyond) the Roman Conquest of AD 43. The similarity of British examples to contemporary continental urnfields and the occasional presence of imported, high status grave goods, or objects deliberately buried with the body, provide evidence for the gradual assimilation of south eastern Britain into the Roman world. The cremations were often placed in wheel thrown pottery vessels deposited in graves dug into the subsoil or bedrock, and usually exhibit few visible surface traces, although some burials marked by low, circular grave mounds are known. Contemporary inhumation burials have also been found in some urnfields. Although the cemeteries are unenclosed, excavation has shown that within larger examples, groups of burials were sometimes placed in originally embanked, sub-rectangular enclosures. In Britain, unenclosed Iron Age urnfields are found exclusively in south eastern England and form a rare class of monument. Less than 50 have been positively identified, although this is considered to be only a small fraction of those which originally existed. They represent one of a restricted range of monuments dating to the Iron Age and, as such, constitute an important source of information about the social structure, beliefs and economy of the time. All examples with surviving remains are considered to be of national importance. The unenclosed Iron Age urnfield on Rackham Hill survives well, despite some damage by modern ploughing and bridleway use, and has been shown by part excavation to contain important archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed. The monument is particularly unusual in that it includes rarely surviving earthwork components, and is one of very few known Iron Age burial sites on the Sussex Downs. The urnfield forms one of a dispersed group of broadly contemporary monuments situated along the ridge, providing important evidence for the relationship between burial practices, settlement and land division in this area of downland during the later prehistoric period.


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


The monument includes an unenclosed urnfield dating to the Iron Age, which also contains an associated, contemporary enclosure, situated on a chalk ridge which forms part of the Sussex Downs. The urnfield is represented by a pair of north east-south west aligned grave mounds, the most prominent of which lies to the south west and has a roughly circular, uneven mound c.12m in diameter and up to 0.75m high. Records suggest that the mound, the edge of which has been partly disturbed by modern ploughing, is surrounded by a now infilled construction ditch up to c.1.5m wide. The grave mound was investigated in 1929, when a centrally placed cremation burial and associated fragments of an Iron Age cinerary urn were discovered. The second grave mound lies c.46m to the north east and has a circular mound c.9m in diameter and up to c.0.3m high, surrounded by an infilled construction ditch c.1m wide. Further, associated unmarked burials are likely to survive in the areas between and around the grave mounds. The associated enclosure, interpreted as a contemporary ritual monument, lies between the grave mounds and survives as a roughly east-west aligned, raised sub-rectangular platform measuring c.12m by c.10m. Part excavation in 1929 revealed that the central area is paved with large flint nodules. The platform is enclosed by a low bank up to c.0.5m high and c.6m wide, surrounded by a `v'-shaped ditch. The ditch has become infilled due to the encroachment of modern ploughing onto the southern periphery of the enclosure, but will survive as a buried feature up to c.4m wide. Long term use of the long distance bridleway which runs along the ridge just to the north of the monument has removed most of the northern bank and ditch of the enclosure, and this area is therefore not included in the scheduling.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Curwen, E, Allcroft, A, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Rackham Bank and Earthwork, (1932), 182-186
Curwen, E, Allcroft, A, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Rackham Bank and Earthwork, (1932), 183-186

National Grid Reference: TQ 05297 12589


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This copy shows the entry on 21-Sep-2018 at 12:02:16.

End of official listing