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Springfield style enclosure, three bowl barrows and two pond barrows on Whiteley Hill

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: Springfield style enclosure, three bowl barrows and two pond barrows on Whiteley Hill

List entry Number: 1016617


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

County: Hertfordshire

District: North Hertfordshire

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Barkway

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 02-Feb-1976

Date of most recent amendment: 07-Jul-1999

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 29389

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

Springfield style enclosures are roughly circular enclosures, typically found on a hilltop or spur and dating to the Middle/Late Bronze Age, with some occupied into the Early Iron Age. They are named after the type site at Springfield, Essex, one of the few examples in the country which has been fully excavated. They are characterised by either single or double enclosure ditches with simple internal or external banks or box ramparts. Within the enclosure, one or more circular buildings may be found with numerous pits and postholes. Their function appears to be domestic and such sites will yield archaeological and environmental information about the lifestyle of the communities living in them. They are found in eastern England, usually surviving as cropmark sites visible through aerial photography, and are thought to number no more than fifty in total. All surviving examples are considered to be of national importance and will merit protection.

Despite the damage caused by prolonged ploughing, the Springfield style enclosure on Whiteley Hill survives well and will retain valuable information. Part excavation has shown that the enclosure ditches remain well preserved and demonstrated the survival of buried features in the interior. In both instances, these features were found to contain artefactual evidence related to the period of occupation. Environmental evidence will also be preserved, and may illustrate both the appearance and ultilisation of the landscape in which the enclosure was set. In addition to domestic use, some Springfield style enclosures are considered to have served as centres for the production and exchange of Bronze Age metalwork and to have performed ritual functions. In this latter respect, the proximity of the adjacent barrows is highly significant.

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 and often acted as a focus for further burials in later periods. Pond barrows are a broadly contemporary (but far more rare) form of funerary monument. They are found either in isolation or, more frequently, within round barrow cemeteries. They were constructed as regular circular depressions surrounded by an embanked rim, and excavated examples have been shown to contain single or multiple pits (or cists) containing human remains beneath the central depression.

Both forms of barrow are highly representative of their period and provide valuable evidence for the nature and variety of beliefs amongst prehistoric communities. A substantial proportion of surviving bowl barrows, and all examples of pond barrows, are considered worthy of protection.

Although the barrows on Whiteley Hill have been degraded by ploughing, the part excavation of the bowl barrow ditches has demonstrated the preservation of buried remains, and the other deeper features both beneath the former mounds and (particularly) within the pond barrow depressions may also be expected to survive. These will contain further artefacts (including funerary remains) and sealed environmental evidence illustrating the appearance of the landscape in which the barrows were set.

The barrows are considered to be broadly contemporary with the use of the enclosure and, in addition to providing valuable information in their own right, their presence may also provide insights regarding the character of this adjacent site. The area between the barrows and the enclosure is of particular importance in this respect, and in the light of evidence for later Romano-British occupation on the site.


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


The monument includes the buried remains of a Bronze Age Springfield style enclosure and five adjacent barrows located on Whiteley Hill, a pronounced knoll on the eastern end of the Chiltern escarpment, some 1.5km to the south east of Royston. The knoll provides extensive views to the south across a broad bowl-like vale formed by a ridge of higher ground between Therfield and Barley. Also visible, through a gap in the hills to the north, is part of the route of the prehistoric trackway known as the Icknield Way, extending into the lower ground south of Cambridge.

The monument, which is in two separate areas of protection, lies within land subject to prolonged ploughing which has left few indications of the enclosure or barrows at ground level. However, these buried features are clearly visible as cropmarks and soilmarks which have been recorded by aerial photography on numerous occasions since the 1950s, and most notably during the dry summer of 1976.

The larger part of the monument includes the enclosure, and four barrows on the eastern side of the Royston to Barkway road which bisects the enclosure on a north west to south east axis. The enclosure occupies the summit and part of the southern slope of the knoll, and is defined by two concentric subcircular ditches with maximum diameters of approximately 140m and 75m. The outermost circuit contains an area of approximately 1.4ha. Both inner and outer circuits are broken by narrow entrance causeways at corresponding positions to the north.

Limited excavation in 1957 revealed that the outer ditch measured 2.8m in width and 1.8m deep and provided some evidence for the former existence of an internal bank. A trench across the inner ditch showed that this measured 3.4m wide and 2.8m deep, and was perhaps flanked by an external bank. The enclosure has been identified as a defended domestic enclosure constructed in the Late Bronze Age.

The eastern arc of the outer enclosure is flanked by the remains of three Bronze Age bowl barrows. The barrows can be identified on aerial photographs by the ditches which formerly surrounded the burial mounds. These were also partly investigated in 1957. The northern bowl barrow occupies a natural chalk outcrop some 12m to the east of the present road and 14m from the outer enclosure, the ditch measuring approximately 32m in diameter and about 0.45m in depth. The second barrow ditch lies less than 8m to the east of the enclosure, measuring about 18m in diameter and 0.9m deep, and the third lies adjacent to the present road some 24m to the south of the outer enclosure ditch. This latter barrow ditch measures some 28m in diameter, 0.9m deep and 6m wide, nearly twice the width of the other two. The fourth barrow on this side of the present road lies between the northern and eastern bowl barrows and approximately 20m from the outer enclosure ditch. This is visible on aerial photographs as a dark circle, about 13m in diameter, which is thought to represent the central depression of a pond barrow. The encircling bank, which also typifies this class of monument, has, like the bowl barrow mounds, been reduced by ploughing. A similar infilled depression represents a fifth barrow on the western side of the road, some 70m to the north west of the enclosure, and is in a separate area of protection.

Worked flints were found during archaeological excavation within the ditch of the eastern bowl barrow and more widely distributed within the plough soil covering the knoll. A comparable spread of Romano-British pottery fragments has indicated later occupation on the site, and further fragments have been found in the upper fills of both the enclosure and barrow ditches. A cobbled hearth found overlying the infilled ditch of the northern barrow may also date from this period.

The modern surface of the Royston to Barkway road 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 10 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Bradley, R, The Social Foundations of Prehistoric Britain, (1984)
Bryant, S, 'Hertfordshire Archaeology' in Whiteley Hill Near Royston: A Late Bronze Age Ringwork?, , Vol. 11, (1990), 26-29
Bryant, S, 'Hertfordshire Archaeology' in Whiteley Hill Near Royston: A Late Bronze Age Ringwork?, , Vol. 11, (1990), 26-9
Bryant, S, 'Hertfordshire Archaeology' in Whiteley Hill Near Royston: A Late Bronze Age Ringwork?, , Vol. 11, (1990), 26-9
Bryant, S, 'Hertfordshire Archaeology' in Whiteley Hill Near Royston: A Late Bronze Age Ringwork?, , Vol. 11, (1990), 26-29
Went, D, 'North Herts Field Archaeology Report Series' in Fieldwalking the Barkway Golf Course, , Vol. 18, (1992)
Wilkerson, JC, 'Proc Camb Ant Soc' in Excavations At Whitely Hill, Barley, Herts, , Vol. LII, (1959), 2-5
Wilkerson, JC, 'Proc Camb Ant Soc' in Excavations At Whitely Hill, Barley, Herts, , Vol. LII, (1959), 2-5
Wilkerson, JC, 'Proc Camb Ant Soc' in Excavations At Whitely Hill, Barley, Herts, , Vol. LII, (1959), 2-5
Wilkerson, JC, 'Proc Camb Ant Soc' in Excavations At Whitely Hill, Barley, Herts, , Vol. LII, (1959), 2-5
discussion with CAO & SMR officer, Bryant, S & Tinniswood, A, Whiteley Hill, (1996)
Discussions with COA and SMR Officer, Bryant, S & Tinniswood, A, Whiteley Hill barrows, (1996)
GIS recified plot based on RCHME data, Tinniswood, A, Whiteley Hill, (1996)
Herts SMR entries, Whiteley Hill Barrows 2400, 2402, 2404, (1996)
oblique monochrome, CUCAP, BLR 90, (1976)

National Grid Reference: TL 37446 39172, TL 37607 39122


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This copy shows the entry on 22-Sep-2018 at 06:05:16.

End of official listing