Monument record MCC7286 - Bronze Age cemetery, Chitts Hill, West Bergholt


Middle Bronze Age cemetery of two phases excavated by the Colchester Excavation Committee in advance of gravel quarrying in 1973 (the site used as a gravel pit for the A12). The first consisted of seven small round barrows and the second of a Deverel-Rimbury urnfield of 27 or cremations, mostly in urns. Twenty-five small pits, contemporary with the urnfield, were also found.


Grid reference Centred TL 958 264 (394m by 412m)
Map sheet TL92NE


Type and Period (5)

Full Description

Bronze Age cemetery of two distinct phases, the first as a barrow cemetery from which seven ring ditches were found and later as an urnfield from which over 30 cremations were excavated.<1><2> The site lies on the southern slopes of the valley of the River Colne and was discovered in 1973 in the north end of the field containing site MCC7480. Seven ring ditches were located, five cremations found inside inverted urns and eight cremations in upright urns although in general it was difficult to detect the pits into which the urns had been placed. The latter when found were substantially larger than the urns they contained. Parts of three or more crushed urns were found in two of the ditches. Ten cremations were found which contained no fragments of pottery but these were generally from shallow features and so could have been the bottoms of un-urned burials. A total of 26 prehistoric pots were found which did not contain cremations and these were concentrated in a small area. They can be divided into two groups on the basis of size and shape although the archaeological significance of this is doubtful. Parts of two linear ditches were found. The pottery recovered includes flint, gravel and coarse sand tempered fragments. The flints were examined by J Wymer who regarded the bulk of them as probably being Neolithic although he thought two patinated pieces might be Mesolithic. The following conclusions were reached for the cremations; all, bar possibly one, are of children c.4-12, they are probably each a single burial and there is no visible evidence of dual or multiple burials. All of the material is well crushed, probably after burning. There is no trace of animal matter that might be grave offerings. The distribution of the cremations in the urnfield indicates that in general they post-date the construction of the barrows, there is also one example of a secondary burial inserted into the barrow mounds. The digging of the pits was probably contemporary with the use of the urnfield. The linear ditch post-dates the levelling of one barrow and is part of an enclosure or field system suggesting that the cemetery was flattened for agricultural reasons. The pottery belongs to the eastern group of the Deverel-Rimbury culture similar to the Ardleigh Group. <3> Other refs. <4> <5> in <4>
Photos of excavation in Essex HER.<6>
APs of Chitts Hill.<7> - <13>

Sources/Archives (14)

  • <1> DESC TEXT: unknown. 1960 0nwards. SMR form unknown.
  • <2> DESC TEXT: Crummy, P in Huggins, PJ. 1975. Archaeology in Essex 1973-4. No 50, p10.
  • <3> Article in serial: Crummy, Philip. 1977. A Bronze Age Cemetery at Chitts Hill, Colchester. Essex Archaeology and History Vol. 9, 1977, 1-16. copy in SMR.
  • <4> RECORD SHEET/FORM: Ordnance Survey. unknown. OS cards. TL92NE73, 1976.
  • <5> DESC TEXT: Department of the Environment. 1973. Arch Excavations. no 23.
  • <6> Photograph: unknown. unknown. Chitts Hill. 4 frames.
  • <7> AP: NMR. 1975. TL9526/3/168.
  • <8> AP: NMR. 1974. TL9526/2/16.
  • <9> AP: NMR. 1975. TL9626/3/174.
  • <10> AP: NMR. 1974. TL9528/1/22.
  • <11> AP: Adkins, P. unknown. AP by Adkins, P.
  • <12> AP: CUCAP. unknown. BXS 26.
  • <13> AP: McMaster, I. unknown. McMaster. 6 frames.
  • <14> Map: Ingle, CJ, Strachan, D, Tyler, S and Saunders, H. 1993-2012. NMP Cropmark Plot - 1:10,000.

Finds (2)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (0)

Record last edited

Aug 3 2017 8:51AM

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