Seven sections of Stane Street Roman road between Eartham and Bignor, a prehistoric linear boundary and two bowl barrows


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016621

Date first listed: 28-Sep-1948

Date of most recent amendment: 07-Jul-1999


Ordnance survey map of Seven sections of Stane Street Roman road between Eartham and Bignor, a prehistoric linear boundary and two bowl barrows
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: West Sussex

District: Arun (District Authority)

Parish: Slindon

County: West Sussex

District: Chichester (District Authority)

Parish: Bignor

County: West Sussex

District: Chichester (District Authority)

Parish: Bury

County: West Sussex

District: Chichester (District Authority)

Parish: Eartham

National Park: SOUTH DOWNS

National Grid Reference: SU 93558 10204, SU 94582 10982, SU 96278 12253, SU 96832 13072, SU 98372 13782, SU 98550 13840, SU 98873 13958, SU 99905 15036


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

Reasons for Designation

Roman roads were artificially made-up routes introduced to Britain by the Roman army from c.AD 43. They facilitated both the conquest of the province and its subsequent administration. Their main purpose was to serve the Cursus Publicus, or Imperial mail service. Express messengers could travel up to 150 miles per day on the network of Roman roads throughout Britain and Europe, changing horses at wayside 'mutationes' (posting stations set every 8 miles on major roads) and stopping overnight at 'mansiones' (rest houses located every 20-25 miles). In addition, throughout the Roman period and later, Roman roads acted as commercial routes and became foci for settlement and industry. Mausolea were sometimes built flanking roads during the Roman period while, in the Anglian and medieval periods, Roman roads often served as property boundaries. Although a number of roads fell out of use soon after the withdrawal of Rome from the province in the fifth century AD, many have continued in use down to the present day and are consequently sealed beneath modern roads. On the basis of construction technique, two main types of Roman road are distinguishable. The first has widely spaced boundary ditches and a broad elaborate agger comprising several layers of graded materials. The second usually has drainage ditches and a narrow simple agger of two or three successive layers. In addition to ditches and construction pits flanking the sides of the road, features of Roman roads can include central stone ribs, kerbs and culverts, not all of which will necessarily be contemporary with the original construction of the road. With the exception of the extreme south- west of the country, Roman roads are widely distributed throughout England and extend into Wales and lowland Scotland. They are highly representative of the period of Roman administration and provide important evidence of Roman civil engineering skills as well as the pattern of Roman conquest and settlement. A high proportion of examples exhibiting good survival are considered to be worthy of protection.

Linear boundaries are substantial earthwork features comprising single or multiple ditches and banks which may extend over distances varying between less than 1km to over 10km. They survive as earthworks or as linear features visible as cropmarks on aerial photographs or as a combination of both. The evidence of excavation and study of associated monuments demonstrate that their construction spans the millenium from the Middle Bronze Age, although they may have been reused later. The scale of many linear boundaries has been taken to indicate that they were constructed by large social groups and were used to mark important boundaries in the landscape; their impressive scale displaying the corporate prestige of their builders. They would have been powerful symbols, often with religious associations, used to define and order the territorial holdings of those groups who constructed them. Linear earthworks are of considerable importance for the analysis of settlement and land use in the Bronze Age; all well preserved examples will normally merit statutory protection. 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.

The seven sections of Stane Street Roman road, associated linear boundary and two bowl barrows situated between Eartham and Bignor survive well and have been shown by part excavation to contain archaeological remains relating to their construction and original use. The monument belongs to a group of prehistoric and Romano-British monuments situated on this part of the Sussex Downs, and the close association between the Roman road and earlier earthworks provides evidence for developments in the use of the Downs during the later prehistoric and Roman periods.


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


The monument, which falls into eight separate areas of protection, includes some of the best preserved stretches of Stane Street, the Roman road between Eartham and Bignor, in addition to a prehistoric linear boundary and two earlier, prehistoric bowl barrows. The major south west-north east aligned Roman road linked the regional capital of Chichester to London. It has a central agger, or raised cambered trackway, up to about 10m wide and 1.8m high. This has been partly disturbed by later tracks and other past modern activities. The agger is flanked on each side by a ditch from which material used in its construction was excavated. This has become partly infilled over the years, but survives in places as a depression up to around 7m wide and 0.8m deep. The agger and flanking ditches along some sections of the road, particularly across high ground, are separated by a berm, an area of level ground, up to about 8m wide. Part excavation in 1913 and 1937 demonstrated that the surface of the berms, as well as that of the agger, was metalled. Most of the remainder of the road beyond the extent of the scheduling now survives as a levelled alignment. Around 150m north of Gumber Corner, the Roman road cuts through an earlier, prehistoric linear boundary. This NNW-SSE aligned, 500m long earthwork runs down the southern slopes of a chalk hill. The boundary has a ditch, around 4m wide and 0.9m deep, flanked on each side by a bank up to about 6m wide and 0.3m high. Finds recovered during part excavation of the earthwork in 1915 included fragments of a Bronze Age funerary urn and later, Roman pottery. The bank has been partly disturbed by past modern ploughing, by the construction of Stane Street and more recent tracks. At its southern end, the earthwork ends abruptly, immediately north of a track at Gumber Corner. It may have originally continued south of the track, along the line of a modern footpath, although no upstanding earthworks survive here. This area is therefore not included in the scheduling. The northern end of the earthwork curves to the east around the edge of the two prehistoric barrows, forming a shepherd's crook-shaped terminal. The two bowl barrows are situated to the north east and south west of a later, modern track. The south western barrow has a mound about 12m in diameter and 1m high. The second barrow, situated around 35m to the north east, has a mound about 18m in diameter and 1m high. Each mound has a slight central hollow, indicating antiquarian excavation probably in the 18th or early 19th centuries. Records suggest that cremated bone and fragments of funerary urns were recovered from the barrows during these investigations. The mound of each barrow is surrounded by a ditch from which material used to construct the barrow was excavated. The ditches have become partly infilled over the years, but the north eastern barrow ditch is visible as a slight depression around 2m wide and 0.2m deep. The eastern side of the south western barrow ditch has been disturbed by the construction of the adjacent track. The ground between the barrows has also been levelled and significantly disturbed by the track and this area is not therefore included in the scheduling. All modern waymarker posts, gates, fences and modern surfaces of more recent tracks which cross the monument are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

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


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

Legacy System number: 32246

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Margary, I D, Roman Ways in the Weald, (1968)
Winbolt, S E, With a spade on Stane Street, (1936)
Curwen, E, 'The Sussex Archaeological Collections' in On Stane Street in its passage over the South Downs, , Vol. 57, (1915), 138
Curwen, E, E C, , 'The Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Covered Ways on the Sussex Downs, , Vol. 59, (1918), 42-75
Grinsell, L V, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Sussex in the Bronze Age, , Vol. 72, (1931), 63
Lowther, A W G, 'The Sussex Archaeological Collections' in A section through Stane Street near Chichester, Sussex, , Vol. 82, (1942), 110-114
Margary, D, 'Antiquaries Journal' in Roman Roads With Small Side Ditches, , Vol. 19, (1939)

End of official listing