How many people in Richmond Park looking at that famous protected view of St Paul’s Cathedral realise they are standing on an ancient burial mound?
More many will now though, as King Henry VIII’s Mound has now been protected as a scheduled monument, due to its national archaeological and historic importance, along with a second site in the Royal Park.
The small hill known as King Henry VIII’s Mound is likely to be a prehistoric round barrow, and quite rare in Greater London. It later was reused as a landscape feature documented from the early 17th century onwards.
The name of the site comes from a legend that King Henry VIII waited at this spot on 19 May 1536 for a signal from the Tower of London, which would signify that his wife Anne Boleyn had been executed for treason and he would be able to marry Lady Jane Seymour.
Slight problem, King Henry VIII is thought to have been in Wiltshire on the day.
While you can’t see the Tower from here, it’s the location for one of London’s more famous, and if you’re a developer, damn annoying features of planning law – a protected view of St Paul’s Cathedral.
Although it is not currently possible to categorically confirm a prehistoric origin for King Henry VIII’s Mound, the form of the monument, its location and the associated documentation are said to make this a strong possibility. Round barrows are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC.
There are a few dotted around London that managed to survive the centuries of housing developments, such as this one in Woolwich.
Another feature thought to be even older than King Henry VII’s Mound has also been protected as a scheduled monument. Located in the west of Richmond Park, approximately 60m west of Queens Road, is a possible long barrow which survives well as a substantial earth mound.