Neolithic long mortuary enclosure and two Bronze Age bowl barrows immediately north of Otby Top Farm

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018862

Date first listed: 16-Apr-1999

Map

Ordnance survey map of Neolithic long mortuary enclosure and two Bronze Age bowl barrows immediately north of Otby Top Farm
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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Location

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Lincolnshire

District: West Lindsey (District Authority)

Parish: Walesby

National Grid Reference: TF 14009 95286

Summary

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

Reasons for Designation

Long mortuary enclosures are oblong-shaped enclosures up to 150m in length, surrounded by narrow, fairly straight ditches with slightly rounded corners, containing an open space edged by a perimeter bank set within the ditch. Characteristically there are two or more major causeways across the ditch which served as entrances. Most long mortuary enclosures are orientated within 45 degrees of an east-west alignment. Long mortuary enclosures are generally associated with human burials dated to the Early and Middle Neolithic periods (c.3200-2500 BC). There are approximately 35 examples recorded in England. The greatest concentration lies in Essex and Suffolk, but there are also examples along the Thames and in Warwickshire along the Avon; two isolated examples have been recorded in Northumberland. Long mortuary enclosures are very rare nationally and all surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.

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. Although the monument immediately north of Otby Top Farm has been reduced by ploughing, the infilled and buried ditches of the long mortuary enclosure and the bowl barrows survive well. They will retain rare and valuable archaeological deposits, including human remains, relating to their dating, construction, period of use and the religious beliefs of their builders. Environmental evidence preserved in the same contexts may illustrate the nature of the landscape in which the monument was set. The ground between the enclosure and the barrows will retain archaeological evidence concerning activities focussed on the site during construction and use, and may provide indications of a chronological association between the mortuary enclosure and the bowl barrows. The location of the long mortuary enclosure within a group of long barrows associated with the Otby and Waithe Becks, and with the prehistoric trackway now formalised as the B1225 (High Street), has considerable significance for the study not only of funerary practices but of settlement, demography and communications during the Neolithic period. The close proximity of burial mounds of a later date is strongly indicative of the enduring ritual importance of the location.

History

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

Details

The monument includes the buried remains of a long mortuary enclosure of the Neolithic period and two Bronze Age bowl barrows situated on the eastern side of the steeply sloping valley of the Otby Beck, immediately north of Otby Top Farm. The intervening ground between the mortuary enclosure and the barrows, which is thought to contain archaeological evidence for activities focussed on the site, is also included in the scheduling. Although the internal bank of the long mortuary enclosure and the mounds of the barrows have been reduced by ploughing, their infilled and buried ditches are visible from the air as a series of cropmarks. The cropmarks (areas of enhanced growth resulting from higher levels of moisture retained by the underlying archaeological features) have been recorded on aerial photographs since 1970. The long mortuary enclosure is oblong in plan, defined by a straight sided ditch with slightly rounded corners, measuring some 70m by 40m overall. Material quarried from this ditch would have been used to construct an internal perimeter bank, thus further demarking the area set aside for funerary activities which are thought to have included exposure of the newly dead and the storage of human remains prior to burial in long barrows. Access to this ritual compound was provided by a causeway across the north western arm of the ditch, and a further causeway is thought to exist on the opposing side. The aerial evidence has not, to date, revealed indications of internal structures but excavations of similar sites elsewhere in Britain suggest that pits and post holes may survive beneath the present ground surface. A further, significant feature which may also be preserved is a paved area or platform thought to have been used for the deposition and excarnation of the dead. Two bowl barrows lie to the north and east of the mortuary enclosure separated from it by distances of 30m and 10m respectively, and by 40m from each other. They indicate the location's continuing ritual significance at a later date. Both barrow mounds have been reduced by ploughing but their encircling quarry ditches, each measuring approximately 20m in diameter, survive as infilled and buried features. The long mortuary enclosure lies within 2km of four Neolithic long barrows (all the subject of separate scheduling), two to the north and two to the south. It may thus have served the funerary needs of several communities whose burial mounds are associated with the valleys of the Otby and Waithe Becks and with the prehistoric trackway now formalised as High Street (the B1225) which lies some 550m to the east of the monument.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 5 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Legacy

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 29748

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

Other
oblique monochrome prints, Hayes, JT & Wilson, P, PP 1-16, (1970)

End of official listing