Pre-1850 Sites

Southwick Hill Road Burial Ground

 Created 01-01-2005   Last update 23-04-2007


In March 1948 Portsmouth Corporation (Portsmouth City Council) workers were widening the T-junction of Southwick Hill Road (B2177) and Military Road (now James Callaghan Drive) when they discovered four Anglo-Saxon graves. An area of 50 feet by 60 feet was examined by trenching and Bronze Age cremations and two more Saxon graves were discovered and excavated. Two parallel banks 5 feet high separated by a shallow ditch were also observed and it was concluded that these were part of Victorian fortification earthworks.



In April 1956 a civil engineering project involved the complete reconstruction of the road junction with the addition of the present day roundabout and the work uncovered further burials. Because of the extensive disturbance of the roadworks several graves were damaged by mechanical excavators and remains of at least four graves were recovered from the spoil heaps. A further eleven Saxon graves were examined eight of which were undamaged. 

Bronze Age Burials

Four cremation pits were discovered of this period and it is assumed they are related to Gob's Barrow 1.25 miles to the east. It is possible that a Barrow once stood on this site, being destroyed by Victorian defensive earthworks. Grave number 1 is classified as a 'Wessex Grave'. The four graves are described below:

1 The 'Wessex Grave'. 4 feet 3inches in length, 3 feet wide and 2 feet deep. Cremated bones and charcoal were heaped in the middle. Mixed with the bones and charcoal were 107 lignite and 16 amber beads. A gold cased conical shale button and a broken incense cup were also found. 
2 Similar to '1' it contained charred bone fragments and charcoal. 
3 Uncovered 20 feet southwest of grave ' 1' and similar in design. Contained only fire-marked flints. 
4 An extension of the Saxon grave number 6. Thought to represent a prehistoric burial cut through when the Saxon grave had been dug. It contained a broken food vessel. 

Anglo-Saxon Burials

In all 17 Anglo Saxon burials were found and the characteristics of them point to a Christian cemetery of the last part of 600 AD (mid-Anglo-Saxon period). It is probable that the cemetery served the hamlet of Wymering which lies just to the south. The graves were dug no larger than was necessary to accommodate the bodies and all were oriented east-west with the heads to the west.

1 Adult male.
2 Adult male.
3 Adult male. Iron knife with welded cutting edge near left hand
4 Adult male. Iron buckle.
5 Adult female. Adult male as secondary burial
6 Adult male. Grave disturbed by Victorian earthworks. Shield boss, rivet, iron nails. Bronze age Food Vessel found 1 foot beyond west end of grave.
7 Damaged by mechanical excavator. Probable male.
8 Damaged by mechanical excavator. Probable male.
9 Contained the skeletons of 3 males
10 Adult female. Four flints set in the side of the grave
11 Adult probably male.
12 Adult female. Two flints at the foot of the grave.
13 Child 8 years. Single flint 9in x 4 in x 4in at foot of grave.
14 Child 12 years. Single large flint as in '13'.
15 Infant.
16 Adult male. Damage to the skull suggests death by sword wound.
17 Damaged by mechanical excavator. 2 skeletons: youth and adult male.

Contributor:      Jenny Stringer - researcher

Original Grid Ref: 41/64870656

Google Earth Aerial View

modern day map location

A 2004 map with the black ellipse showing the area of interest. It is wedged between Southwick Hill Road to the south and the B2177 to the north. The roundabout to the west was added in 1956. To the south is the Wymering housing estate and to the east Fort Widley.

burial site map

This map show the road layout as it was prior to 1956 before the roundabout was added. The 17 graves are shown as rectangles. The zigzag lines show the position of the Victorian trench. The road junction had to be improved because of the construction of ASWE one mile to the west.

grave locations

 A closer view of the grave locations. They are 150 feet northwest of the Wymering Deep Tunnel Shelter 110 feet below.


Saxon Grave
Black square Bronze age food vessel
Black circle 'Wessex' cremation
White circle Undated cremation
Grave number 6

 This is grave number 6 where a Saxon burial cut through a previous Bronze age cremation shown at '1'.


Food Vessel - Bronze age 


Iron Nails or Pins


Shield Boss with Iron Grasp and Rivet beneath


Iron Rivet

burial site long shot

 Standing on the roundabout looking east towards the burial site between Portsdown Hill Road on the left and Southwick Hill Road on the right. Fort Widley is centre left.

burial site close

 Looking northeast from Southwick Hill Road. In the background is Fort Widley. The pylon marks the field of a WWII Hurricane crash site. In the left foreground the path leading to the Wymering Deep Tunnel Shelter west ventilation shaft can be seen. Finally in the left  mid-ground is the Bronze age and Saxon burial ground.



Here are some e-mails about this subject:


NEW - 23-04-2007

Bob - I very much enjoyed your website. However, I have to concur with the person [see below] who e-mailed you about the roundabout at the top of Portsdown Hill Road. I lived in Cosham through the 1940s and 1950s, leaving for college in 1961 - but visiting parents in Cosham frequently until the mid-1970s. For most of that time there was no roundabout at the top of Portsdown Hill Road - we went up there frequently. Don't know when it appeared, but certainly not as early as 1956!

Mike Tedrake, Michigan USA - April 2007

NEW - 29-10-2006

Just a correction to the above page - you mention that in 1956 some work was carried out to create the roundabout. However I recall as a 'lad' passing through this junction in the late 1960s on our way from Denmead to Fareham and it was at that time not a roundabout. In the recently published 'Portsdown Panorama' book there is a picture taken in 1971 at this location which shows a lorry negotiating the staggered junction. I think the roundabout itself dates from the first half of the 1970s. The work in 1956 was (I would imagine) to create the staggered junction to 'proper engineering standards' - before then I would think it was just a cross roads.

Steve Mountain
Special Projects Engineer
Havant Borough Council - October 2006