Anglo-Saxon cemetery 275m north of Comps Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Anglo-Saxon cemetery 275m north of Comps Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

East Sussex
Lewes (District Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
TQ 45491 08158

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.

Anglo-Saxon cremation cemeteries consist predominantly of cremation burials in which the cremated remains were placed in containers which were then buried in small pits in the ground. The most common burial containers were pottery vessels, frequently heavily decorated, although glass and metal ones are also known. The human remains may be accompanied by cremated animal remains and grave goods, such as jewellery, collected from the funeral pyre. At some sites there is evidence that the burials were marked above ground by stones, small cairns or timber structures. The cemeteries vary considerably in size, the largest containing several thousand burials. Cremation cemeteries are relatively rare and less than 200 examples have been identified. 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. The Anglo-Saxon cemetery 275m north of Comps Farm contains mixed inhumation and cremation burials. The cemetery is unexcavated apart from the three burials which led to the discovery of the site. It is one of three in a relatively small area of approximately 1.5km and indicates a concentration of Anglo-Saxon interest in this area. The excavated examples show that the burials survive well despite having been ploughed over. The graves will contain archaeological information and environmental evidence relating to the burials and the landscape in which they were created.


The monument includes an Anglo-Saxon cemetery defined by a group of three Anglo-Saxon burials and the indication, from resistivity and magnetometer survey, of further burials in scattered groups to the north and south of these. The burials lie on the top of an oval-shaped low hill overlooking Glynde and Glynde Reach, a tributary of the River Ouse, to the north. The cemetery runs in a north-south direction for some 60m and comprises small groups of burials. At the centre of this alignment three graves have been excavated. One grave, aligned northwest-southeast, contained a single inhumation thought to be female accompanied by a number of objects including a metal alloy bowl or bucket, two saucer brooches, two silver girdle ornaments and an amber object. A second grave, aligned approximately north-south contained a single inhumation, thought to be male, accompanied by objects which included a shield boss, spear, knife and buckle. Both graves lay under 0.28m of topsoil and were cut 0.3m into natural chalk. Indications from the grave goods showed that the burials can be dated to the mid-C5 to mid-C6 AD. The third grave contained an inhumation aligned east-west which had been disturbed by the insertion of at least one and possibly two later cremation burials. The disturbed fill of this grave contained objects including a saucer brooch and knife. The excavations of the graves were carried out by the County Archaeologist and his staff who observed more graves in the baulks of the trenches. The site, found by metal detector, was not previously recorded, and did not occur on the East Sussex County Council Historic Environment Record (HER). Three other sites are recorded in the vicinity of the cemetery: Beddingham Roman Villa about 1km to the southeast; an Anglo-Saxon cemetery 0.86 km to the south; and a second Anglo-Saxon cemetery 0.5km to the northeast. None of these sites are scheduled. The nearest scheduled monument is Mount Caburn Iron Age hillfort 1.25km to the north west (SM 27029).

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 5 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.

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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.

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