A possible long barrow, with some disturbance to the north which could be interpreted as a second barrow.
Reasons for Designation
The mound at TQ1891972117, Richmond Park, is scheduled for the following principal reasons:
* Survival: a possible long barrow which survives well as a substantial earthen mound;
* Rarity: long barrows are very rare in the Greater London area;
* Period: this site is representative of the mortuary practices of the Neolithic period;
* Potential: the mound has the potential to contribute to our understanding of the social organisation and burial practices of the country's Neolithic population;
* Documentation: historic mapping and antiquarian finds and observations provide evidence for the interpretation of the monument.
Long barrows were constructed as earthen or drystone mounds with flanking ditches and acted as funerary monuments during the Early and Middle Neolithic periods (3800-2400 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.
Externally, they comprise a large mound of material rarely more than about 50m in length and up to 25m in width, but sometimes in a slightly trapezoidal or oval form, often with one end wider and higher than the other. Invariably there are ditches alongside from where the construction material may have, in part, been derived. These ditches are often distinctive on aerial photographs and can help to identify the location of examples in which the mound has been levelled. Additions to the length and height can effectively make some mounds much larger and monumental in nature.
This example is found in Richmond Park, an area with a long tradition of hunting, which probably dates back to the C14 when the area was part of the Manor of Sheen. A royal palace was built here and became popular with Henry VII who named the estate Richmond after his earldom in Yorkshire. Both Henry VIII and Elizabeth I enjoyed hunting here, but it was not until the reign of Charles I (1625-49) that the area was imparked and the New Park was created. Today the park is managed by the Royal Parks Agency and was designated as a Grade I Registered Park and Garden in 1987.
The natural historian Edward Jesse would appear to mention this mound in 1835, stating that there are “two or three ancient British barrows” in this area, “in which some broken pottery and deposits of ashes have been found”. A C19 map also shows a barrow at this location (Brayley, 1850). John Beighton, writing in 1887 also references a “steep mound, in which have been found ancient weapons of war”. In 1995, the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England carried out archaeological survey work in Richmond Park, which included this mound. They concluded that in the absence of further evidence, an interpretation as a long barrow should be regarded as tentative. Although it is not currently possible to categorically confirm a prehistoric origin for this mound, the form of the monument, its location and good level of survival strongly suggest it is a long barrow.
PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS: a possible long barrow situated in a prominent location along the scarp-edge, overlooking the Thames to the west. The mound stands in an unfenced area within the deer park.
DESCRIPTION: the mound takes the form of an irregular oval earthwork. The mound is aligned roughly north-south along the scarp-edge, with the land to the west falling away to the Thames, which is approximately one mile away. The mound is approximately 45.0m long, 22.5m wide and up to 3.5m high. A pathway cuts across the top of the mound and has caused substantial erosion across the main axis. The mound appears to have been bisected at its north end, creating a separate circular mound, which is separated by a shallow ditch. This could be interpreted as two separate mounds, and it is not uncommon for secondary burials to be inserted into or alongside existing barrows in later centuries. The mound is largely covered by bracken, and an oak tree of considerable age is growing from the southern part of the mound. There is another possible barrow some 300m to the south, and King Henry VIII’s mound (Scheduled Monument) is another purported barrow situated on the same scarp-edge, 1.09km to the north.
This list entry was subject to a Minor Amendment on 15 August 2022 to amend the description