Dial Hill Roman barrow, 50m north west of St Nicholas's Church
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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This copy shows the entry on 20-Sep-2021 at 18:33:59.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Buckinghamshire (Unitary Authority)
- Great and Little Kimble cum Marsh
- National Grid Reference:
- SP 82497 05993
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 being disturbed by past investigations, the Dial Hill Roman barrow remains substantially intact - retaining much of its original size and profile. The small scale excavation of 1887 provided evidence for the period of construction, yet neither this work, nor the limited exploration in 1950, appears to have disturbed the primary burial. The proximity of the barrow to a known site of Romano-British settlement is particularly significant, since the two monuments are undoubtedly related. The occupant of the mound may well have lived in the adjacent villa, and the burial may provide valuable information concerning his or her lifestyle and status.
The monument includes a small Roman barrow located within the grounds of Manor
Farm, 50m north west of St Nicholas's Church.
The conical barrow mound, which stands on a slight prominence at the foot of
the Chiltern escarpment, measures approximately 20m in diameter and 3m in
height. A depression on the summit marks the location of two minor
excavations; the first undertaken by the local vicar in 1887 and the second
conducted by a former owner of the property in 1950. The later exploration
established little beyond the fact that the mound is composed mainly of chalk
which, in the absence of a surrounding ditch, appears to have been quarried
elsewhere. The earlier exploration also appears to have missed the primary
burial, although fragments of Romano-British pottery were recovered from the
material of the mound. As well as providing a general date for the mound's
construction, these broken vessels may represent the grave goods of secondary
burials, inserted after construction.
The barrow lies only a short distance to the south of a minor Roman villa
(the subject of a separate scheduling) discovered during the construction of
the turnpike road near All Saints' Church, Little Kimble, in the 1850s. The
evidence recovered in 1887 suggests that the burial mound was contemporary
with this settlement.
The spoil from the 1887 excavation forms a low bank extending southwards from
the foot of the mound. The bank may contain further artefacts, overlooked at
the time, and is therefore included in the scheduling.
A sundial (from which the barrow acquired a name) once stood upon the summit
of the mound. This had been removed before 1887, although local tradition held
that stones from the pedestal could be found set about the parish.
All fences and fenceposts are excluded from the scheduling although the ground
beneath these items 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:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Allcroft, A H, Earthworks of England, (1908), 80
Sheahan, J, History and Topography of Buckinghamshire, (1862), 166
'Records of Bucks' in Records of Bucks, , Vol. 6, (1887), 76
'Archaeological Service Report' in Archaeological Survey of the Earthworks at Little Kimble, (1996), 2-4
'Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of London' in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of London, , Vol. 2/12, (1889), 340
Reference to 1950 investigation, CAS 1038 Dial Hill, (1980)
Reference to sources, CAS 0901 Roman Building/Villa SE of Little Kimble Church, (1981)
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.
End of official listing