REASONS FOR DESIGNATION
Oval barrows are funerary and ceremonial monuments of the Early to Middle Neolithic periods, with the majority of dated monuments belonging to the later part of the range. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds of roughly elliptical plan, usually delimited by quarry ditches. These ditches can vary from paired "banana-shaped" ditches flanking the mound to "U-shaped" or unbroken oval ditches nearly or wholly encircling it. Along with the long barrows, oval barrows 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, oval barrows have produced two distinct types of burial rite: communal burials of groups of individuals, including adults and children, laid directly on the ground surface before the barrow was built; and burials of one or two adults interred in a grave pit centrally placed beneath the barrow mound. Certain sites provide evidence for several phases of funerary monument preceding the barrow and, consequently, it is probable that they may have acted as important ritual sites for local communities over a considerable period of time. Similarly, as the filling of the ditches around oval barrows often contains deliberately placed deposits of pottery, flintwork and bone, periodic ceremonial activity may have taken place at the barrow subsequent to its construction. Oval barrows are very rare nationally, with less than 50 recorded examples in England. As one of the few types of Neolithic structure to survive as earthworks, and due to their rarity, their considerable age and their longevity as a monument type, all oval barrows are considered to be nationally important.
Gib Hill oval barrow is a large and well-preserved example which has provided important evidence of a small barrow cemetery located on this site before the mound was constructed. Although partially excavated, the mound retains substantial archaeological remains relating to all phases of use, and the surrounding construction ditches are believed to be intact. A large bowl barrow is superimposed on the oval barrow. Bowl barrows are the most numerous form of round barrow and are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age. They were constructed as rubble or earthen mounds, were sometimes ditched, occurred either in isolation or in barrow cemeteries, and covered single or multiple burials. There are over 10,000 surviving bowl barrows recorded nationally, and their longevity and considerable variation of form provides important evidence on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities throughout Britain. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion are considered worthy of protection. Gib Hill bowl barrow has been partially excavated, but further archaeological remains survive in the extensive unexcavated areas round the edges of the mound. Both barrows are an important and integral part of a rich and varied prehistoric ritual landscape which includes Arbor Low henge and stone circle, and a number of other barrows.
The monument is located 200m south-west of Arbor Low henge in the central uplands of the limestone plateau of Derbyshire. It includes, within a single constraint area, a large bowl barrow superimposed on an earlier oval barrow. The barrows' construction ditches are also included within the monument and extend approximately 10m on either side. Associated with the monument, but covered by a separate scheduling, is the linear bank and ditch which passes through Gib Hill plantation and curves round the monument 60m to the south-east. In addition, close to the monument on its north-west side, is a semi-circular quarried feature. This, in the past, has been suggested to be an unfinished henge. Although the feature has been partially excavated the results were inconclusive. It may, in fact, be a modern feature, contemporary with other quarry pits in the vicinity, and has, therefore, been excluded from the scheduling. The oval barrow comprises a 2m high mound measuring 27m by 46m. Its long axis appears to be orientated on Arbor Low henge. The bowl barrow was constructed on the south-west end of the oval barrow and is a steep-sided sub-circular mound with a diameter of 24m by 27m and a height of c.3m. A number of partial excavations of the site have been carried out. The most notable of these were by William Bateman and Samuel Mitchell in 1824 and by Thomas Bateman in 1848. Previous investigations were poorly recorded and do not necessarily relate to Gib Hill. One of these is a possible excavation by the owner, Mr Thornhill, in 1812, when human bones and Roman coins were reputedly found. During Bateman and Mitchell's excavation, a smaller mound of stiff clay was found on the old land surface beneath the oval barrow. It measured 3-4 yards across by 1.5 yards high and contained layers of charcoal and cremated human bone together with a possible arrowhead and a fragment of polished stone axe. Within the oval mound itself, Bateman and Mitchell found numerous flints and an iron brooch. The flints may have been residual; that is to say, part of the construction material of the mound. The brooch, however, indicates the later re-use of the barrow, possibly in the Romano-British or Anglian periods. During his excavation, Thomas Bateman recorded that the oval mound consisted of limestone and soil. Within it, on the old land surface beneath, he found four small clay mounds arranged in a square. The clay was mixed with charcoal and wood, possibly from further cremations, and underneath were found several flints and ox bones. On the surface of the oval barrow, beneath the later bowl barrow, he found a square cist or grave containing a cremation and a pottery food vessel. The latter indicates an Early Bronze Age date for the bowl barrow. The oval barrow dates to the Neolithic period and may be slightly later than the mounds underneath, though their precise relationship has yet to be determined. Together with Arbor Low, Gib Hill has been in State care since 1884.
Book Reference - Author: Barnatt, J. - Title: The Peak District Barrow Survey - Type: DESC TEXT
Book Reference - Author: Barnatt, J. - Title: The Peak District Barrow Survey - Type: PLAN: MEASURED
Book Reference - Author: Barnatt, John - Title: The Henges, Stone Circles and Ringcairns of the Peak District - Type: DESC TEXT
Book Reference - Author: Bateman - Title: Vestiges of the Antiquities of Derbyshire - Type: DESC TEXT
Book Reference - Author: Bateman, T - Title: Ten Years Diggings in Celtic and Saxon Grave-Hills - Type: DESC TEXT
Book Reference - Author: Radley, J. - Title: The Origins of the Arbor Low Monument - Type: DESC TEXT