Anglo-Saxon cemetery on Hemley Hill


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020290

Date first listed: 09-May-2001


Ordnance survey map of Anglo-Saxon cemetery on Hemley Hill
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1020290 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 23-Jan-2019 at 18:53:24.


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

County: Buckinghamshire

District: Wycombe (District Authority)

Parish: Bledlow-cum-Saunderton

National Grid Reference: SP 79953 02110


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

Reasons for Designation

Beginning in the fifth century AD, there is evidence from distinctive burials and cemeteries, new settlements, and new forms of pottery and metalwork, of the immigration into Britain of settlers from northern Europe, bringing with them new religious beliefs. The Roman towns appear to have gone into rapid decline and the old rural settlement pattern to have been disrupted. Although some Roman settlements and cemeteries continued in use, the native Britons rapidly adopted many of the cultural practices of the new settlers and it soon becomes difficult to distinguish them in the archaeological record. So-called Anglo-Saxon cemeteries are dated to the early Anglo-Saxon period, from the fifth to the seventh centuries AD. With the conversion to Christianity during the late sixth and seventh centuries AD, these pagan cemeteries appear to have been abandoned in favour of new sites, some of which have continued in use up to the present day. Burial practices included both inhumation and cremation. Anglo-Saxon inhumation cemeteries consist predominantly of inhumation burials which were placed in rectangular pits in the ground, occasionally within coffins. The bodies were normally accompanied by a range of grave goods, including jewellery and weaponry. The cemeteries vary in size, the largest containing several hundred burials. Around 1000 inhumation cemeteries have been recorded in England. They represent one of our principal sources of archaeological evidence about the Early Anglo-Saxon period, providing information on population, social structure and ideology. All surviving examples, other than those which have been heavily disturbed, are considered worthy of protection.

Despite cultivation, the burials in the Anglo-Saxon cemetery on Hemley Hill are believed to survive well, with disturbance limited to only the upper sections of a limited number of graves. The graves and other buried features, such as the ditches indicated by geophysical survey, will contain archaeological remains relating to the funerary practices of the community which buried its dead here, as well as sealed environmental evidence reflecting the appearance of the surrounding landscape at the time. A matter of particular interest is the proximity of the cemetery to the Roman villa on the valley floor below - a spatial association which may indicate some degree of continuity of settlement between the two periods.


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


The monument includes the known extent of an Anglo-Saxon cemetery located on the north side of Hemley Hill, a small eminence which rises from the floor of the Saunderton Valley to the south of Princes Risborough and the Aylesbury Vale.

An iron shield boss, a gilt square head brooch and other artefacts associated with pagan Anglo-Saxon burials were first discovered in the field to the rear of Shootacre Lane in 1976. Geophysical survey in 1977 revealed a pattern of buried grave-like features, pits and ditches interpreted as part of an Anglo- Saxon cemetery. These coincided with the area of the artefact discoveries and continued across a slight terrace overlooking the valley floor to the west. Reports also re-emerged at around this time of human burials unearthed in the mid-1930s in two gardens backing onto the field further confirming, the cemetery interpretation. Other artefacts have since been discovered in the ploughsoil overlying the cemetery. These include two disc brooches (probably worn as a pair), a gilded strap end and a further shield boss. Together with the earlier discoveries, these artefacts point to a pattern of both male and female burials.

Roman coins recorded in considerable number in adjacent parts of the field are thought to relate to the `Saunderton Villa', a Romanised farmstead of first to fourth century date, situated a short distance to the west, partly excavated in 1938, and the subject of a separate scheduling.

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: 29435

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
David, A, Hemley Hill: Ancient Monuments Lab Geophysical Survey Report, (1977)
Ashcroft, D, 'Records of Bucks' in Report on the excavtion of a Roman villa at Saunderton, Bucks, , Vol. 13, (1939), 398-426
Field and artifact record, Farley, M and Pike, A, 2513 Hemley Hill Anglo-Saxon cemetery, (1976)
Info from informal metal detecting, Shingleton, P, Hemley Hill Saxon Cemetery, (1998)
Note to SMR from County Archaeologist, Farley, M, Hemley Hill, Saunderton: inventory of metal detector finds, (1998)

End of official listing