Great Kimble Dial Hill

Has been described as a Questionable Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameGreat Kimble Dial Hill
Alternative Names
Historic CountryBuckinghamshire
Modern AuthorityBuckinghamshire
1974 AuthorityBuckinghamshire
Civil ParishGreat And Little Kimble

A large round barrow, possibly of Ro date, at SP 82500599, measures 20.0m in diameter and is 3.0m in height. There are no traces of a ditch. There is a deep central excavation crater and an old spoil heap against the SW side; under pasture and small bushes. (PastScape)

Despite being disturbed by past investigations, the Dial Hill Roman barrow remains substantially intact - retaining much of its original size and profile. The small scale excavation of 1887 provided evidence for the period of construction, yet neither this work, nor the limited exploration in 1950, appears to have disturbed the primary burial. The proximity of the barrow to a known site of Romano-British settlement is particularly significant, since the two monuments are undoubtedly related. The occupant of the mound may well have lived in the adjacent villa, and the burial may provide valuable information concerning his or her lifestyle and status.

The monument includes a small Roman barrow located within the grounds of Manor Farm, 50m north west of St Nicholas's Church. The conical barrow mound, which stands on a slight prominence at the foot of the Chiltern escarpment, measures approximately 20m in diameter and 3m in height. A depression on the summit marks the location of two minor excavations; the first undertaken by the local vicar in 1887 and the second conducted by a former owner of the property in 1950. The later exploration established little beyond the fact that the mound is composed mainly of chalk which, in the absence of a surrounding ditch, appears to have been quarried elsewhere. The earlier exploration also appears to have missed the primary burial, although fragments of Romano-British pottery were recovered from the material of the mound. As well as providing a general date for the mound's construction, these broken vessels may represent the grave goods of secondary burials, inserted after construction

The barrow lies only a short distance to the south of a minor Roman villa (the subject of a separate scheduling) discovered during the construction of the turnpike road near All Saints' Church, Little Kimble, in the 1850s. The evidence recovered in 1887 suggests that the burial mound was contemporary with this settlement. The spoil from the 1887 excavation forms a low bank extending southwards from the foot of the mound. The bank may contain further artefacts, overlooked at the time, and is therefore included in the scheduling. A sundial (from which the barrow acquired a name) once stood upon the summit of the mound. This had been removed before 1887, although local tradition held that stones from the pedestal could be found set about the parish. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

Described as motte by Salter and King. Was (amateur) excavated in 1887 and 1950 with no clear results but Roman pottery found in 1887. Mound composed mostly of chalk. Close to Great Kimble church. The close proximity of the motte and bailey castle at Little Kimble and Ellesborough does leave the faint possibility of this being an Anarchy siege work, a nervous defensive response or a status based symbolic mound. However, the closeness of a spring and pool to the church suggests the church was founded on a prehistoric religious site and that the mound is associated with this prehistoric period.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSP825059
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  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of The Thames Valley and The Chilterns (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 35
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 27
  • RCHME, 1912, An inventory of the historical monuments in Buckinghamshire Vol. 1 (south) p. 168 online copy
  • Allcroft, A. Hadrian, 1908, Earthwork of England (London) p. 80 online copy


  • 1971, ''Archaeological notes from Bucks County Museum' Records of Buckinghamshire Vol. 19.1 p. 95 (a bare mention) online copy
  • 1887-89, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of London Vol. 12 p. 340
  • 1887, Records of Buckinghamshire Vol. 6 p. 76