Heyshott Down round barrow cemetery and cross dykes


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Heyshott Down round barrow cemetery and cross dykes
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

West Sussex
Chichester (District Authority)
West Sussex
Chichester (District Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
SU 90704 16492

Reasons for Designation

Round barrow cemeteries date to the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). They comprise closely-spaced groups of up to 30 round barrows - rubble or earthen mounds covering single or multiple burials. Most cemeteries developed over a considerable period of time, often many centuries, and in some cases acted as a focus for burials as late as the early medieval period. They exhibit considerable diversity of burial rite, plan and form, frequently including several different types of round barrow, occasionally associated with earlier long barrows. Where large scale investigation has been undertaken around them, contemporary or later "flat" burials between the barrow mounds have often been revealed. Round barrow cemeteries occur across most of lowland Britain, with a marked concentration in Wessex. In some cases, they are clustered around other important contemporary monuments such as henges. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape, whilst their diversity and their longevity as a monument type provide important information on the variety of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving or partly-surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.

Despite evidence of partial excavation of some of the barrows, Heyshott Down round barrow cemetery survives particularly well and contains archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed. Combined with the cemetery are the Heyshott Down cross-dykes. Cross-dykes are substantial linear earthworks typically between 0.20km and 1km long comprising one or more ditches arranged beside and parallel to one or more banks. They generally occur in upland situations, running across ridges and spurs. The evidence of excavation and analogy with associated monuments demonstrates that their construction spans the millenium from the Middle Bronze Age, although they may have been re-used later. Current information favours the view that they were used as territorial boundary markers, probably demarcating land allotment within communities, although they may also have been used as trackways, cattle droveways or defensive earthworks. Cross-Dykes are one of the few monument types which illustrate how land was divided up in the Prehistoric period, while the association of the round barrow cemetery with the cross-dykes gives a valuable insight into the nature and scale of human occupation in the area during this period.


The monument includes ten round barrows in a linear round barrow cemetery aligned east-west with a series of three cross dykes set at right angles to it. The barrows are situated along a chalk ridge towards the north of the South Downs; the cross dykes run across the ridge acting as a form of land division. The barrows all survive as earthworks and range in size from 11m to 34m in diameter and stand to heights of between 0.3 and 2.6m. These are described from west to east as follows: 1. (SU 90581657) Bowl barrow, the mound of which measures 19m in diameter and 2m high. Surrounding the mound is a ditch from which material was quarried during the construction of the monument. This has become infilled over the years and is now only visible as a slight depression to the south-east but survives as a buried feature c.3m wide around the mound. 2. (SU 90621657) Bowl barrow with a central mound 34m in diameter and 2.6m high. The mound is surrounded by a quarry ditch which has become partially infilled over the years but remains as an earthwork feature 3.5m wide and up to 1m deep. 3. (SU 90641655) Bowl barrow which survives as a much slighter earthwork and has a central mound 11.5m in diameter and 0.5m high. Surrounding the mound is a quarry ditch which is now no longer visible but which survives as a buried feature c.3m wide. 4. (SU 90651654) Bowl barrow which has a mound 12m in diameter and 0.3m high. This too has a surrounding quarry ditch which survives as a buried feature c.3m wide. 5. (SU 90661654) Bowl barrow which has a mound 14.5m in diameter and 1.2m high. The surrounding quarry ditch survives as a buried feature c.3m wide. 6. (SU 90671653) Bowl barrow which has a mound 13.5m in diameter and stands to a height of 1.3m, the surrounding ditch surviving as a buried feature c.3m wide. 7. Bowl barrow (SU 90691652) which has a mound 11m in diameter and stands to a height of 1m. The quarry ditch is no longer visible but survives as a buried feature c.3m wide. Between this and the next barrow is the most westerly segment of cross dyke which comprises a ditch 4.5m wide and 0.7m deep with a bank on its east side 7.5m wide and 0.8m high. Both the ditch and bank run for 65m to the south and are cut through by a trackway running east-west. 8. Disc barrow (SU 90731649) comprising a circular bank 15m in diameter and 2m wide which stands to a height of 0.4m, defining a flat central area, or platform, without a central mound. 9. Bowl barrow (SU 90741648) the central mound of which measures 14m in diameter and 0.5m high. The surrounding quarry ditch survives as a buried feature c.3m wide. 10. An irregular shaped bowl barrow (SU 90741649), the mound of which measures 11m north-south by 8m east-west and 0.4m high. The second barrow (SU90621657) was known locally as `Heyshott Barrow' and has a central hollow in the mound which suggests that it was once partially excavated. Six of the other barrows also have hollows and disturbances while the others appear to be intact. The ninth barrow had some burnt bone and pottery fragments recovered from the mound; these included a rim sherd of inverted urn, a type of Bronze Age pottery. In addition to the length of cross dyke between barrows 7 and 8, the ditches of barrows 9 and 10 are cut through by the ditch of a further length of cross dyke running north-south. The ditch measures 7m wide and 1 deep with the bank to the east 9m wide and 1m high. These run 75m north-south and are also cut through by a later trackway. The third section of cross dyke runs parallel to the second 40m further east and comprises a double ditch and bank. On the west is a ditch 6m wide and 0.7m deep with a bank to the east of it 10m wide and 1m high. The second ditch is 5m wide and 0.5m deep with a bank to the east 5m wide and 0.5m high. Both sets of banks and ditches run for 75m north- south finishing in the south where they are cut through by the trackway. The surface of the trackways which cross the cross-dykes and all fences and fence posts are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath is included.

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.

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Books and journals
Curwen, E, E C, , 'The Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Covered Ways on the Sussex Downs, , Vol. 59, (1918), 47-48
Grinsell, L V, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Sussex Barrows (Volume 75), (1934), 240
Grinsell, L V, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Sussex Barrows (Volume 75), (1934), 246
Lewis, G D, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Sussex Archaeological Collections, , Vol. 98, (1960), 15
Aldsworth, F G, SMR Record Card SU 91 NW 19, (1975)
Aldsworth, F G, SMR Record Card, (1975)


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