Record Details

NHER Number:5958
Type of record:Monument
Name:'Seven Hills' Bronze Age barrows


This is a group of Bronze Age barrows, constructed as a linear cemetery. The linear barrow cemetery, which includes NHER 5956-7 to the west, is situated on a ridge of land overlooking the Little Ouse river valley. The use of the site as an airfield during World War One and World War Two destroyed other barrows. The barrows are shown on a map of 1740.


  • Manuscript plan of 1740 of the Bronze Age linear barrow cemetery on Rushford Downs, Brettenham  © Norfolk County Council


Grid Reference:TL 905 813
Map Sheet:TL98SW

Full description

Bronze Age linear barrow cemetery.

Bell and possible disc or pond barrows.
Prehistoric pottery and Early Saxon urns.
See detailed descriptions in file.
E. Rose, (NAU) 22 June 1982.

According to HBMC printout all the barrows were descheduled in 1965.
But this was said to be an error in letter 10 June 1988, they are still scheduled.
See also file for NHER 6132.
E. Rose (NAU) 18 May 1988.

See NHER 5896 and NHER 5897.

January 2007. Field visit.
Three prehistoric flint flakes found. Two were found on the surface of context 8. One was found at context 11 in a rabbit burrow.
D. Robertson (NLA), 17 April 2007.

February 2011. Norfolk NMP.
The earthworks of the ‘Seven Hills’ barrow cemetery are visible on aerial photographs (S1-S8) on Rushford Downs. The linear barrow cemetery, which includes NHER 5956-7 to the west, is situated on a ridge of land overlooking the Little Ouse river valley. The site of the cemetery was used as an airfield in 1914-8 and a bombing range in the 1940s and therefore has seen a fair degree of disturbance. The majority of the aerial photographs dating to the 1940s and early 1950s (for example S2-S3) reveal a massive amount of shell and bomb damage to the entire area of the earthworks, making it hard to easily identify any earthworks other than the most prominent of the mounds.
Several of the barrows are thought to have been destroyed by the RAF, in particular those to the western end of the linear group (see secondary file). A group of three lighter circular and sub-circular marks visible on a poor quality laser copy of a 1923 aerial photograph (S1) would appear to relate to the location of these potentially recently levelled monuments. However due to the poor quality of both the original photographic print and the subsequent laser copy, it is extremely hard to be certain of the origin of these marks. It is entirely possible that these relate to water marks or damage to the print. However given the positioning along the line of the linear cemetery and there possible correspondence with eighteenth century records to barrows and a ‘shallow circular entrenchment’ at this approximately location, they have been mapped as probably barrows.
One of these appears to indicate a levelled or partially levelled circular bank at TL 9021 8139 (S1). This corresponds with the location of a large circular ring ditch or enclosure visible as a cropmark in 1989 (S5-S6), also visible on (S3), although there is some discrepancy between the appearance of the ditch on the two aerial photographs. It must also be noted that due a lack of sufficient control points on the oblique aerial photographs from 1989, that the feature had to be partially sketch mapped. This large ring ditch, approximately 65m in diameter, with a probable inner bank, would appear to correspond to the shallow circular entrenchment (c3) recorded in the eighteenth century and later interpreted as a ring, disc or pond barrow (see secondary file), although no sign of it could be detected on the ground. The light coloured circular mark visible to the west in 1923 (S1) is likely to represent a spread of material that formed part of the additional barrow (c1) destroyed by the RAF in 1918. A smaller C-shaped light coloured mark to the east is likely to relate to c4, another barrow destroyed by the RAF (see secondary file). No definite sign of the shallow round entrenchment (c7) to the east (noted in the eighteenth century) could be identified on the visible on aerial photographs, although area is quite disturbed by shelling. Faint possible traces of earthworks may be visible on an oblique aerial photograph from 1988 (S7), but nothing conclusive enough to warrant mapping.
A broad ditch and bank are visible encircling the large barrow at TL 9058 8138 (c11), however these did not appear to be as wide as previously recorded on the ground. The extreme southern extent of the earthwork ditch appears to have been plough levelled since the 1950s. Photographs from the early 1950s reveal relatively fresh pits or scars cut into the side of the mound of c10 at TL 9081 8136 (S3). This may relate to the clearance of the wood in this area in the 1950s or could indicate an attempt to excavate the mound. There is no obvious sign of these features in 1946 (S2) which would suggest that they do not relate to military training and weapons pits. A relatively narrow ditch was identified to the north of the mound. The easternmost barrow (c10) is recorded as having an outer bank and ditch, however no conclusive trace of these was visible on the vertical aerial photographs, potentially due to vegetation cover. Traces of a possible ditch could feasibly be present on an oblique aerial photograph from 1988 (S8), however these were not mapped due to the presence of other circular marks and tracks in this area that are the product of recent activity at the site.
S. Horlock (NMP), 15 February 2011.

Monument Types

  • BARROW CEMETERY (Bronze Age - 2350 BC to 701 BC)
  • POND BARROW (Bronze Age - 2350 BC to 701 BC)
  • RING DITCH (Bronze Age - 2350 BC to 701 BC)
  • ROUND BARROW (Bronze Age - 2350 BC to 701 BC)

Associated Finds

  • FLAKE (Lower Palaeolithic to Late Iron Age - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • POT (Late Prehistoric - 4000 BC to 42 AD)
  • POT (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)

Protected Status

  • Scheduled Monument

Sources and further reading

---Photograph: HP 4-11, BZP 5 (= context 11).
---Aerial Photograph: TL9081 A-D, E-F,H-M.
---Designation: [unknown]. Ancient Monuments Form. SAM Record. DNF54.
---Designation: Corbishley, M.. 1983. AM107.
---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TL 88 SE 43 [2]; TL 98 SW 17 [3]; TL 98 SW 18a.
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Article in Serial: Grinsell, L. V. 1974. Disc-Barrows. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society. Vol 40 pp 79-112. p 100.
---Monograph: Lawson, A. J., Martin, E., Priddy, D. and Taylor, A. 1981. The Barrows of East Anglia. East Anglian Archaeology. No 12.
---Map: Martin, T.. 1740. MSS map. 2.
---Vertical Aerial Photograph: Ordnance Survey. 1967. OS/67065 081-2 27-APR-1967 (NMR).
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Bronze Age. Brettenham [2].
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Slide: Various. Slide.
---Collection: Norfolk Historic Environment Record Staff. 1975-[2000]. HER Record Notes. Norfolk Historic Environment Service.
<S1>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Crawford Collection. 1923. NMR TL9081/3 (CCC 8604/1557) 13-JUL-1923 (NMR).
<S2>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF CPE/UK/1801 4296-7 25-OCT-1946 (NMR).
<S3>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1955. RAF 540/1739 0031-2 02-NOV-1955 (NMR).
<S5>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D. A. (NLA). 1989. NHER TL 9081B-D (NLA 238/DMS2-4) 13-JUL-1989.
<S6>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D. A. (NLA). 1989. NHER TL 9081E-F (NLA 237/DMF4, 6) 12-JUL-1989.
<S7>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D. A. (NLA). 1988. NHER TL 9081K-L (NLA 237/DMF2-3) 12-JUL-1988.
<S8>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D. NLA. 1988. NHER TL 9081H (NLA 237/DME12) 12-JUL-1988.

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