Tumulus: OS Grid Reference – TL 5466 5437
Archaeology & History
This once-impressive Bronze Age tomb is now much denuded and stands besides the legendary Fleam Dyke. The name of Mutlow was first used to describe this site in the 1812 Enclosure Act and means, literally, an “Assembly Hill” or Assembly burial mound. Reaney (1943) told that it was situated “at the junction of the boundaries of Great Wilbraham (Staine Hundred), West Wratting and Balsham (Radfield Hundred) and Fulbourn (Flendish Hundred)”, and was obviously an important moot spot where local tribal and council laws were made.
The great Cambridge archaeologist, Tom Lethbridge (1957) briefly described the place in his fascinating survey of the nearby hill-figures, Gog and Magog, saying:
“The hill itself is a Bronze Age barrow which was dug by the Hon. R.C. Neville about a hundred years ago. In it were, amongst other things, glass beads brought to Britain from the eastern Mediterranean in the fifteenth century before the birth of Christ. The barrow, which was presumably the site of a moot in Saxon times, seem to have been used as a sighting point for the construction of the Fleam Dyke… A circular Roman building, either a temple, or possible a signal station, stood close to Mutlow Hill.”
Lethbridge pointed out that another lesser-known trackway — “known in Saxon times as ‘the Street'” — also passed here, saying:
“When the land is ploughed and the light is right, you can see the numerous dark lines on the soil, all converging on Mutlow Hill. These are the old hollow ways of the Icknield Way and the Street.”
One legend here speaks of a golden chariot that is reputedly buried either inside, or near to the old tumulus. Lethbridge (1957) again told of hearing this tale, though narrated, “it was said to be buried in Fleam Dyke near Mutlow Hill.” When he asked a local lady about the tale,
“She replied that she had always heard that it was not in the dyke itself, but in the road which passed the dyke and went on to West Wratting and the southeast.”
- Lethbridge, T.C., GogMagog: The Buried Gods, RKP: London 1957.
- Reaney, P.N., The Place-Names of Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely, Cambridge University Press 1943.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian