Plumberow Mount


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017451

Date first listed: 04-Jul-1924

Date of most recent amendment: 24-Oct-1997


Ordnance survey map of Plumberow Mount
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Essex

District: Rochford (District Authority)

Parish: Hockley

National Grid Reference: TQ 83985 93834


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

Reasons for Designation

Earthen barrows are the most visually spectacular survivals of a wide variety of funerary monuments in Britain dating to the Roman period. Constructed as steep-sided conical mounds, usually of considerable size and occasionally with an encircling bank or ditch, they covered one or more burials, generally believed to be those of high-ranking individuals. The burials were mainly cremations, although inhumations have been recorded, and were often deposited with accompanying grave goods in chambers or cists constructed of wood, tile or stone sealed beneath the barrow mound. Occasionally the mound appears to have been built directly over a funeral pyre. The barrows usually occur singly, although they can be grouped into "cemeteries" of up to ten examples. They are sited in a variety of locations but often occur near Roman roads. A small number of barrows were of particularly elaborate construction, with masonry revetment walls or radial internal walls. Roman barrows are rare nationally, with less than 150 recorded examples, and are generally restricted to lowland England with the majority in East Anglia. The earliest examples date to the first decades of the Roman occupation and occur mainly within this East Anglian concentration. It has been suggested that they are the graves of native British aristocrats who chose to perpetuate aspects of Iron Age burial practice. The majority of the barrows were constructed in the early second century AD but by the end of that century the fashion for barrow building appears to have ended. Occasionally the barrows were re-used when secondary Anglo-Saxon burials were dug into the mound. Many barrows were subjected to cursory investigation by antiquarians in the 19th century and, as little investigation to modern standards has taken place, they remain generally poorly understood. As a rare monument type which exhibits a wide diversity of burial tradition all Roman barrows, unless significantly damaged, are identified as nationally important.

Despite past disturbance Plumberow Mount survives well and remains a conspicuous feature in the landscape. Although the 1913 excavations failed to find evidence for the principal burial, it was demonstrated that the mound was created no earlier than the first century AD. The interpretation of the mound as a Roman barrow, although unproven, remains the most probable explanation. The greater part of the mound remains undisturbed and it is possible that the burial, if placed away from the centre of the mound (as in a larger Roman barrow on Mersea Island, 27km to the north east), will remain intact. The discovery of later pottery fragments within the mound is also highly significant. Excavations of comparable monuments have demonstrated that pre-existing monuments were attractive locations for subsequent burials, especially in the pagan Anglo-Saxon period. Evidence of such activity at Plumberow Mount would prove highly valuable for the study of post Roman occupation in the area.


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


The monument includes the earthen mound known as Plumberow Mount which stands on the summit of a natural knoll to the north of the town of Hockley, a position commanding extensive views to the south across the Thames estuary, and to the north and east over the valleys of the rivers Crouch and Roach. The mound stands to a height of about 4m and is slightly oval in plan, measuring approximately 23m from east to west by 18m transversely. A flattened area on the summit reflects the former position of a summer house. Exploratory excavations took place in 1913, during which three trenches were cut into the mound, from the north, east and south sides, extending into tunnels which met beneath the summer house. Although no evidence of a burial was found, the excavators did retrieve a coin of the emperor Domitian (c.AD 84), a shale or jet bead and numerous sherds of Romano-British pottery. Beneath the centre of the mound a large post hole was found to cut through a gravel surface, which may have been artificial. A few sherds of Saxon pottery were recovered in the upper part of the mound during the excavations, perhaps reflecting a later burial. In the absence of evidence for an encircling ditch, the mound is thought to have been either constructed from earth and sub-soil deposits quarried elsewhere, or from material gathered from the surface of the surrounding hillside.

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: 29397

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Francis, E B, 'Trans. Essex Archaeology Society' in The Opening of Plumberow Mount in Hockley, , Vol. 13, (1915), 223-237
Hazzledine-Warren, S, 'Trans. Essex Archaeology Society' in A Romano-British Barrow on Mersea Island, , Vol. 13, (1915), 121-138

End of official listing