Henge and associated barrow cemetery south of Home Whin Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Date first listed:
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Ordnance survey map of Henge and associated barrow cemetery south of Home Whin Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Suffolk Coastal (District Authority)
Suffolk Coastal (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TM 32001 45054, TM 32299 45048

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.

Henges are ritual or ceremonial structures which date to the Late Neolithic period and Early Bronze Age (2800-2000 BC). They are roughly circular or oval enclosures measuring more than 20m in diameter, surrounded by a ditch and an external bank with one, two or four entrances to the interior. The enclosure may have contained a variety of features, including circular settings of stones or timber posts, pits, burials or central mounds. Henges occur throughout most of England but are rare nationally, with about 80 known examples. As one of the few types of Neolithic structures identified, and in view of their comparative rarity, all henges are considered to be of national importance.

The barrow cemetery south of Home Whin Farm contains the remains of round barrows of varying size and construction, including at least one which displays features characteristic of some of the rarer and more elaborate types which are thought to be associated with the burials of aristocratic or socially prominent individuals, and the presence of a henge within the cemetery gives the monument even greater interest. Archaeological information concerning the construction of the barrows and the henge, their date and function both individually and relative to one another, and the manner and duration of their use, will be contained in the infill of the ditches, in features dug into the subsoil beneath the barrow mounds, and perhaps, also, in basal deposits of the barrow mounds which may survive, and in buried soils preserved beneath them. It is likely, also, that `flat' graves dug into the subsoil will survive in the areas between the ring ditches.

The relationship between the barrow cemetery and the later field system is also of great interest for the study of changing land use in the region during the prehistoric and early historic periods, and known examples of early field systems of this type in this part of East Anglia are particularly rare.


The monument includes a group of ring ditches within two areas of protection. The ring ditches are considered to be the remains of a henge and associated round barrow cemetery, situated above a south and south west facing slope overlooking the village of Shottisham and the valley of a small stream which runs into the estuary of the River Deben 2.75km to the south west. Also included is part of a rectilinear system of small fields and trackways which lie within the same area but are of a different, probably later date. All these survive as buried features beneath ploughsoil, producing crop marks (produced by differential growth of crops) which have been recorded by means of aerial photography. The ring ditches define seven roughly circular enclosures of varying size and complexity. The earth quarried from the ditches was used to construct upstanding earthworks such as barrow mounds, which have since been levelled and are no longer visible on the ground surface.

Six of the circular enclosures lie within one modern field, and the most elaborate of these, situated approximately at the centre of the northern half of the field, displays features characteristic of a henge. It includes at least three concentric ditches. The outer ditch circuit has a diameter of approximately 40m and encloses a second, penannular ditch approximately 25m in diameter with an entrance on the north side. The third and innermost ditch has a maximum diameter of approximately 17m and is wider than the other two. The aerial photographs show evidence for what are perhaps the remains of a ring bank between the second and third ditches, and at the centre of the enclosure there are traces of a circular feature approximately 7m in diameter which may be a pit or the remains of a small mound or platform of buried turf.

About 28m to the south west of the henge, and within 10m of the track which runs along the western boundary of the field, is a large ring ditch which is thought to be the remains of a large round barrow of complex construction; possibly a bell barrow or a barrow which has been successively enlarged. The crop marks show an outer ditched enclosure with an overall diameter of around 48m, within which is a much smaller inner enclosure, located slightly to the north of centre and measuring approximately 17m in diameter. This inner enclosure is defined by a second ditch with a possible entrance on the south side, and is encircled by a ring of pits which perhaps contained a setting of upright posts. According to the evidence of the aerial photographs, the interior of the inner enclosure was probably occupied by a mound or raised platform of turf approximately 15m in diameter, of which the base may survive.

About 58m ENE of the henge is a ring ditch measuring approximately 13m in diameter, identified as the remains of a small bowl barrow. Three more barrows are represented by ring ditches set in a line north east-south west in the southern half of the field. The easternmost in this alignment, at a distance of about 105m south east of the henge, is a single ring ditch with a diameter of approximately 35m. The second, which encloses an area of similar dimensions, lies some 37m to the south west of the first. The third, about 82m beyond this, includes concentric inner and outer ditches with diameters of approximately 15m and 25m respectively. The ring ditch, believed to represent the remains of a fifth round barrow, is situated about 198m WSW of the henge and has an overall diameter of approximately 38m. Within the area enclosed by the ditch the aerial photographs show possible evidence for the survival of the base of a central mound approximately 21m in diameter.

The rectilinear pattern of ditches which overlies the barrow cemetery is characteristic of a regular aggregate field system and is likely to be of Bronze Age or later prehistoric date. There is some evidence that the barrows and henge were still clearly visible as earthworks when the system was laid out, since several of the field ditches are aligned on or otherwise respect them. The field enclosures are roughly rectangular or trapezoidal in plan, varying in size from around 50m by 100m up to 100m by 225m, and are laid out on and at right angles to a NNE-SSW axis quite different from both the modern field boundaries and the boundaries of an earlier field system recorded in a survey of 1631. Running between some of the enclosures are trackways defined by roughly parallel ditches between 5m and 10m apart. Worked flint flakes and implements and several sherds of Bronze Age or Iron Age pottery, found on the surface of the field during systematic field walking, provide further evidence for prehistoric activity on the site.

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.

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Books and journals
Martin, E A, 'East Anglian Archaeology' in The Barrows of East Anglia: Suffolk Gazetteer, , Vol. 12, (1981)
Haiward, W, Suffolk Record Office Ref JAI/54/1, (1631)
Healy, F, AM 107, (1985)
Newman, J, (1991)
Newman, J, (1991)
St Joseph, CUCAP ADK 13,
St Joseph, CUCAP AFM 30, (1962)
St Joseph, CUCAP YJ 65, 66, 68, 69, (1959)
St Joseph, CUCAP YJ 65, 66, 69, (1959)
St Joseph, CUCAP YJ 68, 69, (1959)
St Joseph, CUCAP YJ 69, (1959)


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

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