Roman barrow 380m north of Hill Farm
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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This copy shows the entry on 31-Mar-2020 at 09:34:44.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Huntingdonshire (District Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- TL 12853 94620
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 reused 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.
The Roman barrow 380m north of Hill Farm, which remains as a substantial earthwork with associated buried features, 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 reuse as a medieval mill mound and possibly Roman signal station and medieval beacon, highlights its continued importance as a local landmark through the centuries. The barrow does not appear to have been excavated and most of its archaeological deposits are thought to survive intact.
The monument includes a Roman barrow situated 380m north of Hill Farm, on the
crest of Chesterton Hill, which has good visibility especially to the north
and east. The barrow lies approximately 2.1km south of the remains of the
Roman town Durobrivae, and 750m south west of the A1, the former Roman Ermine
Street. The mound survives as a substantial earthwork with a flat platform
top, standing approximately 3.5m high from the bottom of the ditch and
covering an area 20m in diameter. The mound's profile shows a marked break of
slope, suggesting that a 0.6m top layer was added for later reuse. A ramp
approximately 9m long runs from the adjacent field in the north up to 0.6m
from the top of the mound and may have been constructed at the same time as
the top layer. The barrow's encircling ditch, from which earth was dug in the
construction of the mound, is visible as a slight depression, up to 3.5m wide
and approximately 0.5m deep.
With its commanding position on Chesterton Hill overlooking Ermine Street the mound lent itself to reuse during later periods and may have functioned as a Roman signal station and/or medieval beacon. The ramp and added top level suggest that it was reused as a medieval mill mound. Medieval agricultural activity in the area surrounding the mound is evident from ridge and furrow cultivation remains, for example 400m north of the monument and 900m to its south.
The surface of the mettalled trackway is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it is included.
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:
- Legacy System:
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