Iron Age ritual enclosure containing a Bronze Age barrow, and Roman cemetery


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:
Statutory Address:
Barleyfields: W of Station Road, Fulbourn, Cambridge, CB21 5AB


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Statutory Address:
Barleyfields: W of Station Road, Fulbourn, Cambridge, CB21 5AB

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

Location Description:
South Cambridgeshire (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:


The buried remains of an Iron Age enclosure containing a Bronze Age barrow, surrounded by a number of Roman and early medieval burials.

Reasons for Designation

The Iron Age ritual enclosure, Bronze Age barrow and Roman cemetery at Fulbourn are scheduled for the following principal reasons:

* Rarity: In view of their importance for the understanding of Iron Age ritual activity, all surviving examples of Iron Age ritual enclosures are considered to be nationally significant;

* Period: A rare example of a multi-period ritual site comprising a Bronze Age barrow within an Iron Age enclosure, surrounded by a Roman and early medieval cemetery;

* Documentation: The site was partially excavated to professional modern standards and a full record of the archaeological remains, stratigraphy, and artefacts made;

* Potential: The excavation examined a small proportion of the site, leaving the majority un-excavated. Hence the site contains considerable archaeological and environmental information relating to its history and use, as well as of the landscape in which it was constructed;

* Fragility/Vulnerability: The remains of the enclosure and cemetery are fragile and potentially vulnerable to damage from development of the site.


Shrines of Iron Age date consisted of small timber buildings situated within a larger enclosure that can be termed an ‘ambulatory’. Being of timber, they rarely survive as surface features but have been identified as crop marks on aerial photographs. These shrines can be divided into three main types: small, rectangular ‘cella’- type buildings, sometimes with a small external enclosure or ‘ambulatory’ and/or a porch; small circular structures, again sometimes enclosed; and large enclosures, which sometimes but not always contain one of the smaller sanctuary buildings. Most shrines date from the end of the Iron Age.

The earliest feature on site is a Bronze Age ring ditch surrounding the site of a barrow. The barrow was clearly still extant in the Iron Age, as an enclosure was dug around in it. The function of the enclosure is not known, but it may have been ritual or ceremonial in nature, given its relationship to the barrow.

The enclosure survived into the Roman period, with Romano-British pottery recovered from the ditches. It clearly acted as a focus for ceremonial behaviour in the Roman period, as a number of burials were interred around the enclosure (but not, apparently, in it). Use of the area for burials continued for some time, possibly extending into the post-Roman period, as both cremations and inhumations were present. Further Roman activity exists to the north of the enclosure, in the form of an extensive system of crop marks, and a lime kiln and another former cemetery discovered during the building of the railway.

Evidence for post-Roman activity is limited, with an early medieval structure and evidence for possible industrial activity along the southern boundary of the site, and a track way running north-south through the site. The land to the south was excavated prior to the construction of the current houses, and included a continuation of the medieval occupation and industrial deposits.

The first archaeological work in the vicinity of the site was undertaken by James Carter in 1875, who excavated the lime kiln and cemetery on the northern boundary of the site, during the cutting of the railway. Further cremated remains were found, together with a furnace, during the construction of the station and sidings.

The site was the subject of an archaeological field evaluation in 2005, followed by a partial excavation in 2006. The evaluation included a plot of crop marks visible on aerial photographs to the north of the area of evaluation (within the current site). The site itself was the subject of an archaeological field evaluation in 2015.


PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS: The site comprises the buried remains of an Iron Age enclosure containing a Bronze Age barrow, surrounded by a number of Roman and early medieval burials. The enclosure is rectangular, with an apsidal east side. At least 4 inhumations and 4 cremations surround the enclosure on three sides, in four apparently discrete groups.

DESCRIPTION: The site comprises a square enclosure, measuring 75m x 75m, and dating to the late Iron Age. The eastern side of the enclosure is semi-circular, forming an ‘apse’ type plan. The enclosure is formed by a ditch, 2.5m wide by 1.6m deep in the west, reducing to 1.2m wide by 0.5m wide in the east close to the southern edge of a low plateau above the surrounding fen. Inside the enclosure is a 25m diameter Bronze Age barrow. The barrow ditch varies between 1.5m and 3.7m wide, and is up to 1.2m deep. No trace of the barrow mound remains, although sections through the barrow ditch show that a mound did exist.

A number of archaeological features survive to the south of the enclosure, including a number of Romano-British cremations and inhumations, an early medieval sunken featured building and medieval industrial and back yard remains.


Books and journals
Carter, J, 'On some Excavations, apparently of Roman date, recently discovered at Fulbourn' in Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society, , Vol. 3 (4), (1879), 313-316
Malim, T, 'A Romano-British Temple Complex And Anglo-Saxon Burials At Gallows Hill, Swaffham Prior' in Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society, , Vol. XCV, (2006), 91-114
Bailey, G and Spoerry, P 'Prehistoric and Medieval Remains at Barleyfields, The Chantry, Fulbourn' Cambridgeshire County Council Archaeological Field Unit Report FUL BFC 05 (2006)
Germany, M ‘The Chantry, Fulbourn, Cambridgeshire, Archaeological Excavation’ Essex County Council Field Archaeology Unit Report 1634 (2007)
Moan, P ‘Bronze Age to Roman Ritual and Settlement and Early Medieval Industrial Activity at Barleyfields, Fulbourn, Cambridgeshire’ Oxford Archaeology East Report No: 1857 (2015)
Ordnance Survey Map 25" (1886 edn)


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.

End of official listing

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