Long barrow and enclosure 870m ENE of Copley Hill Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020845

Date first listed: 12-Mar-2003


Ordnance survey map of Long barrow and enclosure 870m ENE of Copley Hill Farm
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This copy shows the entry on 13-Dec-2018 at 20:18:14.


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

County: Cambridgeshire

District: South Cambridgeshire (District Authority)

Parish: Babraham

National Grid Reference: TL 51031 52640


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

Reasons for Designation

Long barrows were constructed as earthen or drystone mounds with flanking ditches and acted as funerary monuments during the Early and Middle Neolithic periods (3400-2400 BC). They represent the burial places of Britain's early farming communities and, as such, are amongst the oldest field monuments surviving visibly 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 monument preceding the barrow and, consequently, it is probable that long barrows acted as important ritual sites for local communities over a considerable period of time. Some 500 examples of long barrows and long cairns, their counterparts in the uplands, are recorded nationally. As one of the few types of Neolithic structure to survive as earthworks, and due to their comparative rarity, their considerable age and their longevity as a monument type, all long barrows are considered to be nationally important.

Although the long barrow 870m ENE of Copley Hill Farm is no longer visible as an earthwork, its buried remains survive and will contain a range of archaeological evidence. Buried soils underneath the mound will retain valuable archaeological information concerning land use in the area prior to the construction of the barrow. Organic deposits preserved in the ditch will provide information on environmental conditions (eg climate, flora and fauna) since its construction. The central burial area may preserve fragments of grave goods and/or skeletal material, which will provide further rare evidence relating to funerary ritual and the prehistoric demography of the area. The long barrow is of added importance in relation to the surrounding Bronze Age livestock handling enclosure, of which few have so far been identified. This association provides a rare insight into the organisation and evolution of the prehistoric landscape.


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


The monument includes the buried remains of a long barrow and livestock handling enclosure 870m ENE of Copley Hill Farm. The long barrow lies on the summit of a south facing slope and is oriented NNW-SSE, in between and aligned with the chalk outcrops of Copley Hill and Meggs Hill. It measures approximately 90m long by 40m wide with the wider terminal on the south. The barrow's mound has been reduced by ploughing to the extent that it is no longer visible above ground, but its deeper deposits are preserved. The central burial area and the encircling ditch, from which earth was dug in the construction of the mound, are clearly visible as dark soilmarks against the otherwise white chalky ground, as well as cropmarks (areas of enhanced growth resulting from higher levels of moisture retained by the underlying archaeological features). The ditch is up to 7m wide. At a later stage the long barrow was incorporated into an enclosure, whose boundary ditch runs along, and respects, the northern tip of the barrow. Although the enclosure's boundary ditch has become infilled over the years, it survives and is clearly visible as a soilmark against the white chalk and as a cropmark on aerial photographs. The enclosure is triangular in shape, with the tip at the south. Current archaeological research identifies this feature as a Bronze Age stock enclosure, similar to the one excavated at Fengate. The 150m wide entrance lies in the north east corner, where animals from the surrounding fields were gathered. They would then be driven down hill into the tip of the enclosure, which acted as a funnel, in which the flock could be inspected and sorted. The northern edge of the enclosure runs along the summit of the hill and measures 250m long, while the eastern and western boundaries are 600m and 450m long respectively up to their meeting point, beyond which the western boundary ditch continues south for another 180m. The aerial photographic evidence also suggests that two rectangular enclosures of approximately 100m by 15m were aligned within the tip of the enclosure, which were probably used as sorting yards. Outside the main enclosure, and connected to its eastern edge by two antennae shaped ditches, is a square enclosure measuring 60m on all sides, in which selected animals could be held separately from the main flock. The stock handling system is part of a larger field system, of which other segments have been identified about 300m to the north west and 800m to the south east. The precise layout and survival of these elements of the field system remain uncertain and they are not included in the scheduling.

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: 33386

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing