Roman barrow 700m WNW of Clavering Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018454

Date first listed: 19-Oct-1973

Date of most recent amendment: 02-Dec-1998


Ordnance survey map of Roman barrow 700m WNW of Clavering Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Essex

District: Uttlesford (District Authority)

Parish: Elmdon

County: Essex

District: Uttlesford (District Authority)

Parish: Langley

National Grid Reference: TL 45598 34764


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 the fact that the Roman barrow 700m WNW of Clavering Farm has been disturbed by excavation and denuded by prolonged cultivation, the monument survives in a visible form and will still contain valuable evidence relating to its construction and use. Neville's small scale excavation provided some clues to its origins, and demonstrated the presence of cultural material - albeit in a disturbed condition. Modern archaeological techniques, however, can be used to examine this disturbed evidence and are capable of revealing far more about the date at which the barrow was built, the nature of the funeral rituals employed within and the appearance of the surrounding landscape at the time.


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


The monument includes a Roman barrow located 700m WNW of Clavering Farm, on the western side of Beard's Lane - a footpath and trackway which is thought to perpetuate the line of a road between the Roman settlements at Great Chesterford and Braughing.

The barrow is circular in plan and measures approximately 50m in diameter. Over the years the mound has been reduced by ploughing, yet it still rises to a domed profile of about 1m in height, and it clearly served as a more prominent local landmark in the past. The 1829 tithe map depicts the barrow under the name `Rumbery Hill', and the historic boundary separating the parishes of Langley (to the south) and Elmdon (to the north) is still drawn across the middle of the mound.

The Hon R C Neville (later Lord Braybrooke of Audley End) directed limited excavations on the mound in the mid-19th century. He found that the barrow had been disturbed in antiquity, but was nevertheless able to recover evidence of a Roman origin. Fragments of glass, pottery and brick - which Neville termed `the remnants of the sepulchral deposit' - were found near the centre of the mound.

In the absence of evidence for a surrounding ditch, it is thought that the mound was constructed using material gathered from its surroundings or quarried elsewhere.

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: 29422

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Fox, C, Archaeology of the Cambridge Region, (1923), 196
'Antiquity' in Antiquity, , Vol. 10, (1936), 37
Neville, R C, 'Trans Essex Arch Soc' in Notes on Roman Essex, , Vol. Vol 1, (1858), 194
Compilation of info regarding 'road', 3890 Beard's Lane Roman Road,
Description of 1829 Tithe Map, 123 Elmdon Tumulus, (1984)
oblique monochrome, CUCAP, ARH 48-49, ARI 10-13, (1967)
oblique monochrome, CUCAP, ARI 10-13, (1969)
Title: TL 4534-4634 Source Date: 1974 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: 1:2500

End of official listing