Seven Sisters round barrow, Copt Hill, Houghton-le-Spring


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018680

Date first listed: 17-Jan-1962

Date of most recent amendment: 02-Dec-1998


Ordnance survey map of Seven Sisters round barrow, Copt Hill, Houghton-le-Spring
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Sunderland (Metropolitan Authority)

National Grid Reference: NZ 35345 49225


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

Reasons for Designation

Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often acted as a focus for burials in later periods. Often superficially similar, although differing widely in size, they exhibit regional variations in form and a diversity of burial practices. There are over 10,000 surviving bowl barrows recorded nationally (many more have already been destroyed), occurring across most of lowland Britain. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape and their considerable variation of form and longevity as a monument type provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisations amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.

Seven Sisters round barrow is an example of a barrow in a prominent position which is a local landmark. Although disturbed by excavation in 1877 and by modern surface diggings, the barrow, which has already provided evidence of a large number of burials and of Neolithic origins, will contain further archaeological evidence for dating and environment.


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


The monument includes the round barrow known as Seven Sisters. It is situated in arable land on the western flank of Copt Hill and is 300m south of Copt Hill public house. The barrow mound is 3m high and aproximately 25m in diameter. It is of earth and stone construction. The stones include magnesian limestone and sandstone. To the west and north west of the mound, at a distance of, there are visible remains of a surrounding bank. An aerial photograph of the monument indicates a further boundary to the west and north of the mound about 25m from the edge of the mound, and a rectilinear cropmark to the east believed to be the terminal of a cursus. Excavation of the barrow in 1877 by Canon William Greenwell and Mr T Robinson revealed that the primary burial was a Neolithic cremation believed to be an example of an axial mortuary structure. There were also several Bronze Age cremations and inhumations, and an early medieval inhumation.

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: 32055

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Trechmann, C T, 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in A Barrow At Copt Hill Near Houghton-le-Spring, , Vol. 3, XI, (1914), 123-30
Young, R, 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in The Copt Hill, Houghton-le-Spring, Round Cairn: A Reassessment, , Vol. 5, XIII, (1985), 7-17
Authors collection, Vyner, B, Copt Hill,
SMR record no.100, Copt Hill, Seven Sisters barrow, (1995)

End of official listing