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Neolithic 4200 - 2000 BC
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Neolithic  burials on Thanet

Curator's introduction

Thanet longbarrows

Thanet flat graves

Neolithic burials on Thanet

Julieberrie's Grave Earthen longbarrow, Chilham
Julieberrie's Grave Earthen longbarrow, Chilham, Kent
Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age (?) Causewayed roundbarrows on Thanet

Curator's introduction

Neolithic burials are rare finds on Thanet and in the rest of Kent. They may be found in simple pits or in grand burial monuments known as barrows.

Throughout Britain Neolithic barrows come in many shapes and forms, often showing distinct regional styles. In Kent they generally come in two different forms. They are the Earthen longbarrow and the Megalithic longbarrow or tomb.

Both house a chamber
which usually contain disarticulated human remains. This chamber is often covered by a long, linear mound flanked by side ditches. The excavation of these ditches provides the material to create the covering mound.
Click here if you would like to read an explanation on what exactly is a longbarrow, what it comprises and what form a Thanet longbarrow might take.

The general lack of any sizeable stone on the Isle of Thanet means that for large-scale burial monuments we would only expect to find the Earthen longbarrow form here.

The information below comprises the current state of our knowledge concerning identified and possible Neolithic burials on the Isle of Thanet (maps forthcoming).


Thanet longbarrows

The traditional form of communal burial monument which we would expect to find in this area is the longbarrow. None have been certainly identified by modern excavation, but aerial photography has identified five potential sites.

Click here to link to a page which has some more information on these sites.


Thanet flat-grave/pit burials

The burial of individuals in the Neolithic is conventionally regarded as unusual in a period where communal monuments containing the disarticulated remains of many people dominate the record.

However in Thanet the only excavated evidence we have of our
Neolithic ancestors' burial rites comprise flat-graves  containing single, complete inhumations sometimes accompanied by other disarticulated bones. One should be careful not to be too ready to apply traditions found in other well published parts of the Country to one's own area if the evidence is  lacking!

Currently two certain examples of Neolithic flat grave/pit burials are recorded. There are also several other possible candidates.

Click here to link to a page containing more information on these sites.


Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age (?) Causewayed roundbarrows on Thanet

Twelve Causewayed ring-ditches and roundbarrows are known to have been excavated on Thanet. Dated examples appear to range from the Late Neolithic to the Middle Bronze Age.

Some of the early examples may reflect an evolution of Neolithic traditions in monument design (influenced by the causewayed Henge) and burial rites (formerly characterised by multiple and disarticulated inhumations and also featuring burial on the base of ditches).

The precise dating that would help to place many of the monuments or their burial-related phases in their period context is unfortunately lacking at the moment.

To explore this phenomena further please visit the Roundbarrow Display in the Bronze Age Gallery, or click here to go straight to the Display on the Causewayed ring-ditches and roundbarrows of Thanet.



KSMR - Kent Sites and Monuments Record.
TSMR - Thanet Sites and Monuments Record.


Anderson T. 1995. Monkton in Canterbury's Archaeology 1995-96. Canterbury Archaeological Trust.

Ashbee P. 2005. Prehistoric Kent. Tempus.

Ashbee P. and Dunning G. 1960. The roundbarrows of East Kent. Archaeologia Cantiana LXXIV.

Bennet P. et al 1996. Interim report on excavations in advance of the dualling of the A253 between Monkton and Mount Pleasant, Thanet. Archaeologia Cantiana CXVI.

Birch D., Boakes P., Elworthy S., Hollins C. and Perkins D.R.J. 1987. The Gateway Island - Archaeological Discoveries in Thanet 1630-1987. Thanet Archaeological Unit.

Darvill T. 1987. Prehistoric Britain. Routledge.

Dunning G.C. 1966. Neolithic occupation sites in East Kent. The Antiquaries Journal - Part 1.

Fisk P.M. 2003. An examination of the excavated ring ditch enclosures on The Isle of Thanet. Unpublished undergraduate dissertation.

Harrison E. 1943. Report for the year ended 31st. December 1942. Archaeologia Cantiana LVI, xxxiii.

Lewis J. 1736. The History and Antiquities, as well Ecclesiatical as Civil, of the Isle of Tenet, in Kent. Second Edition; reprinted in a Third Edition 2005. Michael's Bookshop, Ramsgate.

Lynch F. 1997. Megalithic Tombs and Long Barrows in Britain. Shire.

Mynot E. 1975. Kent Archaeological Review no.39, 254.

Shand G. 2002. Excavation at Chalk Hill, near Ramsgate 1997-98. Canterbury Archaeological Trust, integrated assessment and updated research design report.


Thanks go to Pip Fisk for the information on Neolithic burials contained in her thesis on ring-ditch monuments excavated on Thanet. This is particularly in respect of site V, which was new to me.

Many thanks also to Peter Clark of Canterbury Archaeological Trust, who's pers comm. information on the Acol and Monkton-Minster burials came from a draft copy of his summary discussion for Canterbury Trust's forthcoming report on these excavations, submitted for review and comment.

Thanks also to the Webmeister Ges Moody and Natasha Ransom for the reproduction of the Nethercourt illustrations and photograph.

Finally, much thanks go to Michael's Bookshop (Ramsgate) for reprinting John Lewis' History of the Isle of Thanet (as a Third Edition, 2005) and making the Godfather of Thanet's history books available to everyone. No home is complete without one!

The text is the responsibility of the author; the photographs are by the author unless otherwise stated.

Paul Hart

Version 1 : Posted 26.09.06
Version 2 - Posted 16.12.06

All content © Trust for Thanet Archaeology