Square barrow 170m north east of Summer House Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020397

Date first listed: 11-Feb-2002


Ordnance survey map of Square barrow 170m north east of Summer House Farm
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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: Melbourn

National Grid Reference: TL 39121 43103


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

Reasons for Designation

Square barrows are funerary monuments of the Middle Iron Age, most examples dating from the period between c.500 BC and c.50 BC. The majority of these monuments are found in the area between the River Humber and the southern slopes of the North Yorkshire Moors but a wider distribution has also been identified, principally through aerial photography, spreading through the river valleys of the Midlands and south Essex. Around 200 square barrow cemeteries have been recorded; in addition, a further 250 sites consisting of single barrows or small groups of barrows have been identified. Square barrows, which may be square or rectangular, were constructed as earthen mounds surrounded by a ditch and covering one or more bodies. Slight banks around the outer edge of the ditch have been noted in some examples. The main burial is normally central and carefully placed in a rectangular or oval grave pit, although burials placed on the ground surface below the mound are also known. A number of different types of burial have been identified, accompanied by grave goods which vary greatly in range and type. The most elaborate include the dismantled parts of a two-wheeled vehicle placed in the grave with the body of the deceased. Ploughing and intensive land use since prehistoric times have eroded and levelled most square barrows and very few remain as upstanding monuments, although the ditches and the grave pits, with their contents, will survive beneath the ground surface. The different forms of burial and the variations in the type and range of artefacts placed in the graves provide important information on the beliefs, social organisation and material culture of these Iron Age communities and their development over time. All examples of square barrows which survive as upstanding earthworks, and a significant proportion of the remainder, are considered of national importance and worthy of protection.

Although the square barrow 170m north east of Summer House Farm is no longer visible as an earthwork, its buried remains will survive well. It is thought to be unexcavated and therefore will retain a wealth of archaeological evidence relating to activity on the site, the manner and duration of use of the barrow, its construction, and the landscape in which it was set. The central pit may preserve grave goods and/or skeletal material, which will provide further rare information concerning the Iron Age occupation of the area.


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


The monument includes the buried remains of a square barrow located 170m north east of Summer House Farm. It is situated near the course of the prehistoric Icknield Way and lies in an area with evidence of continued occupation since the Neolithic period. It is part of an extensive spread of prehistoric barrows across the chalk uplands of north Hertfordshire and south Cambridgeshire. Nearby, 600m to the south, lies the Bronze Age round barrow known as Goffers Knoll, the subject of a separate scheduling, while a barrow cemetery some 1800m to the south west, which is also the subject of a separate scheduling, contains a further square barrow.

Although the mound of the square barrow has been reduced by ploughing and is no longer visible above ground, buried deposits survive. The surrounding ditch, from which earth was dug in the construction of the mound, has become infilled over the years but can be seen from the air as a cropmark (an area of enhanced growth resulting from higher levels of moisture retained by the underlying archaeological feature). The ditch forms a square feature which measures approximately 20m north east to south west and 20m north west to south east. Inside the ditch the central burial pit is preserved and is also clearly visible on aerial photographs.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 10 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: 33375

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing