Hey Hill: a Roman barrow 260m south west of Lord's Bridge


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018971

Date first listed: 27-Aug-1962

Date of most recent amendment: 06-Oct-2000


Ordnance survey map of Hey Hill: a Roman barrow 260m south west of Lord's Bridge
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cambridgeshire

District: South Cambridgeshire (District Authority)

Parish: Barton

County: Cambridgeshire

District: South Cambridgeshire (District Authority)

Parish: Harlton

National Grid Reference: TL 39441 54498


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.

Hey Hill Roman barrow, 260m south west of Lord's Bridge, remains a substantial earthwork and is exceptionally well preserved. As part of a concentration of Roman barrows in East Anglia, it provides a unique insight into the social and economic development of south east England in the early days of Roman occupation. Its association with Iron Age funerary and settlement remains provides particularly significant evidence on the process of acculturation in the region. An unusual secondary burial of the Anglo-Saxon period and its use as a parish boundary marker highlight the mound's continued importance as a local landmark through the centuries. As a result of partial excavation at the beginning of the 20th century, the remains are quite well understood, while significant archaeological deposits survive intact.


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


The monument includes a Roman barrow known as Hey Hill, situated 250m south west of Lord's Bridge, where Wimpole Road, the Roman road to Cambridge, crosses Bourn Brook. The monument lies on the Harlton/Barton parish boundary. Its mound survives as a substantial earthwork of oval shape. The encircling ditch, from which earth was dug and used in the construction of the mound, is thought to survive as a buried feature, and evidence from Roman barrows in the surrounding area suggests it is likely to be between 4m and 5m wide.

The mound was probably originally circular in plan, but now survives as an oval earthwork partly reduced by a trackway on the western side. It is approximately 23m long with a width of 8m and a height of 2m. Partial excavation in 1907 revealed the stone coffin of a young woman, whose skeleton had been disjointed. She was buried with two bone hairpins, goose and cock bones, a pig's and a sheep's tooth, and Roman pottery fragments scattered around her head. Outside her coffin, at the foot end, were 27 hobnails. In the upper layers of the mound was a second burial, consisting of a decapitated skeleton, which was probably of Anglo-Saxon date.

Hey Hill Roman barrow is situated in an area of great archaeological activity. Chance discoveries, made within 100m of the barrow, include an Iron Age inhumation interment, wheelmade pottery, and a firedog and slave chain. These suggest that the site may originally have been associated with an Iron Age settlement and cemetery located in the vicinity.

All fence posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features are included.

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.

Legacy System number: 33349

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing