Neolithic long barrow, three Bronze Age bowl barrows and enclosure 600m and 785m east of Poke Holes


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Neolithic long barrow, three Bronze Age bowl barrows and enclosure 600m and 785m east of Poke Holes
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

East Lindsey (District Authority)
Calcethorpe with Kelstern
National Grid Reference:
TF 25708 88158, TF 25852 87943

Reasons for Designation

Long barrows were constructed as earthen or drystone mounds, generally with flanking ditches. They acted as funerary monuments during the Early and Middle Neolithic periods (3400-2400 BC), representing the burial places of Britain's early farming communities, and as such are amongst the oldest field monuments surviving in the present landscape. Where investigated, long barrows appear to have been used for communal burial, often with only parts of the human remains having been selected for interment. Certain sites provide evidence for several phases of funerary activities preceding the construction of the barrow mound, including ditched enclosures containing structures related to various rituals of burial. It is probable, therefore, that long barrows acted as important spiritual sites for their local communities over considerable periods of time. The long barrows of the Lincolnshire Wolds and their adjacent regions have been identified as a distinct regional grouping of monuments in which the flanking ditches are continued around the ends of the barrow mound, either continuously or broken by a single causeway towards one end. More than 60 examples of this type of monument are known; a small number of these survive as earthworks, but the great majority of sites are known as cropmarks and soilmarks recorded on aerial photographs where no mound is evident at the surface. Not all Lincolnshire long barrows include mounds. Current limited understanding of the processes of Neolithic mortuary ritual in Lincolnshire is that the large barrow mound represents the final phase of construction which was not reached by all mortuary monuments. Many of the sites where only the ditched enclosure is known have been interpreted as representing monuments which had fully evolved mounds, but in which the mound itself has been degraded or removed by subsequent agricultural activity. In a minority of cases, however, the ditched enclosure will represent a monument which never developed a burial mound. As a distinctive regional grouping of one of the few types of Neolithic monuments known, these sites are of great value. They were all in use over a great period of time and are thus highly representive of changing cultures of the peoples who built and maintained them. All forms of long barrow on the Lincolnshire Wolds and its adjacent regions are therefore considered to be of national importance and all examples with significant surviving remains 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 historical element in the modern landscape, and their considerable variation in 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 barrows east of Poke Holes cannot be seen on the ground, their ditches survive well as infilled and buried features. Further features not revealed by aerial photography will also be preserved beneath the present ground surface. The fills of the ditches will contain rare and valuable artefactual and organic evidence, including human remains, relating to the construction, dating, periods of use and religious beliefs of the barrow builders. Environmental deposits preserved in the same features may illustrate the nature of the landscape in which the monument was set. The long barrow is a relatively unusual example displaying a U-shaped ditch thought to be indicative of abandonment before completion. The buried features and archaeological deposits contained therein may confirm this and will provide insights into the early constructional phases which are often obscured in more developed examples. Although the ditched enclosure cannot be dated, its location suggests a spatial relationship with the barrows. Its chronological relationship may be revealed by artefactual evidence from the interior, from the fills of its buried ditches and from the surrounding area. The proximity of the Bronze Age barrows to that of the earlier Neolithic long barrow suggests the location had enduring ritual significance. The long barrow is one of a group focussed on the prehistoric trackway now known as the Bluestone Heath Road, and on the valley of the Waithe Beck. Comparative evidence from all these barrows may have considerable significance for the study of communications, settlement and demography during the prehistoric period.


The monument includes the buried remains of a Neolithic long barrow, three Bronze Age bowl barrows and a ditched enclosure some 600m and 785m east of Poke Holes on the north facing slope of a valley above a tributary of the River Bain. The long barrow, the two northern bowl barrows and the enclosure, together with the intervening ground, which will contain associated archaeological remains, are protected together in one area whilst the southern bowl barrow is protected separately. Although the site is not visible on the ground, the infilled and buried ditches surrounding the barrows and the enclosure are clearly visible from the air and have been recorded on aerial photographs since 1976 as a series of cropmarks - areas of enhanced crop growth resulting from higher levels of moisture retained by the underlying archaeological features. The area of the long barrow is defined by a wide ditch and is oriented NNW to SSE. It is roughly oblong in plan, measuring about 60m by 25m overall. The ditch is open at the northern end and shows signs of short internal spurs on its eastern and western sides, giving the southern end a rounded appearance. It is thought that these spurs may be the remnants of an earlier terminal ditch and that the present southern end is an extension made during a later phase. Long barrows with open ended ditches are comparatively unusual on the Lincolnshire Wolds, and it is thought that they represent the earliest stages of long barrow construction and use. The remains of two bowl barrows lie about 100m to the north west of the long barrow. The barrow mounds have been reduced by ploughing but their ditches, from which material for the mounds would have been quarried, survive beneath the present ground surface. Each barrow has a diameter of about 25m, and they lie some 15m apart. The ground between these two bowl barrows and the long barrow contains the remains of a rectangular ditched double enclosure measuring 70m by 30m overall with the long sides running north east to south west. The eastern half of the southern boundary ditch is incomplete. The relationship of this enclosure to the barrows is not yet understood, but archaeological investigations of a similar cropmark site elsewhere in the region revealed evidence of an enclosure which was thought to be contemporary with the earliest phases of construction. It is possible, therefore, that such enclosures provided temporary accommodation for the barrow builders and their equipment. A further bowl barrow lies about 150m to the south east of the long barrow in a separate area of protection. As with the northern bowl barrows, the mound has been reduced by ploughing. The quarry ditch measures approximately 20m in diameter, and a small, central cropmark indicates the position of the primary burial. The parish boundary runs adjacent to the site of this barrow, suggesting that it may have served as a marker, and the reduction of the mound may, therefore, be of a relatively recent date. The long barrow is one of a number of similar monuments which are thought to be associated with the Bluestone Heath Road (a prehistoric trackway) and which are focussed on the valley of the River Bain.

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.


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

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Books and journals
Bonnor, L D, Griffiths, D W, Skitter to Hatton 4050mm diameter pipeline, 1993, (1993), 31
Evans, J G, Simpson, D D A, 'Archaeologia' in Giants' Hills 2 Long Barrow, Skendleby, Lincolnshire, , Vol. CIX, (1991)
discussion with researcher, Jones D, Lincs Wolds long barrow ditch forms, (1997)
oblique monochrome prints, NMR: TF2588/3-4, (1992)
oblique monochrome prints, NMR: TF2588/3-4, (1992)
Went, C, Lincolnshire Wolds long barrows, 1998, unpublished research notes


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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