Ancient Monuments

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Four bowl barrows and parts of two linear boundary earthworks and a cross-dyke 750m west of Wharram Percy Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Birdsall, North Yorkshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 54.0606 / 54°3'38"N

Longitude: -0.7212 / 0°43'16"W

OS Eastings: 483799.336847

OS Northings: 463498.864955

OS Grid: SE837634

Mapcode National: GBR RPDH.N4

Mapcode Global: WHFBW.W6RD

Entry Name: Four bowl barrows and parts of two linear boundary earthworks and a cross-dyke 750m west of Wharram Percy Farm

Scheduled Date: 11 November 1966

Last Amended: 19 January 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1007535

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20512

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Birdsall

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Wharram St Mary

Church of England Diocese: York

Details

The monument includes four bowl barrows and associated parts of two linear
boundary earthworks and a cross-dyke. The monument is situated on the crest of
Toisland Wold, in an area known as Greenlands, and is one of a number of
prehistoric monuments at the eastern end of Birdsall Wold.
Although altered by agricultural activity, three of the barrows are visible as
slight mounds and the infilled quarry ditches of all four barrows are visible
on aerial photographs. The westernmost, which lies in the north-east corner of
the modern field, has a mound 1.5m high with a diameter of 30m; this barrow is
unusual in having two concentric quarry ditches which are 21m and 32m in
diameter. Fifty metres to the east of this a slight ill-defined mound, less
than 0.3m high, marks the location of a second barrow whose maximum diameter,
determined from aerial photographs, is 22m. The southern edge of the barrow
has been slightly disturbed by the insertion of a modern concrete base and
irrigation pipe. A third barrow, only visible from the air, lies a little to
the north and between the above mounds and has a maximum diameter of 22m. The
fourth barrow is visible as a 1m high mound with indistinct edges and having a
diameter of 40m; the mound has been spread over the years by ploughing and its
ditch now lies beneath the edges of the mound. The three upstanding mounds
were recorded and partially excavated by J R Mortimer in 1866.
The linear boundaries and cross-dyke have been levelled by agricultural
activity but, although no longer visible as earthworks, the infilled ditches
are visible on aerial photographs and were recorded in the 19th century by
Mortimer. These were extensive features and have been traced to run for
several kilometres across the Wold but only those parts which are closely
associated with the barrows are included in the scheduling. The first linear
boundary comprises three parallel ditches running from just north of the
westernmost barrow to Wharram Percy Plantation. Each ditch is estimated to be
5m wide and will have been flanked by banks of earth giving a total width of
32m. Just south of this lies the second linear boundary bearing south-east;
this comprises a single ditch having an estimated width of 5m which will have
had a bank about 5m wide on each side. The cross-dyke is the continuation of
that which survives as an earthwork in Vessey Pasture Dale (which is
considered as a separate monument) and, although there are no visible traces
of the earthwork on its northern part, its line is preserved by the modern
parish boundary and below-ground features such as its infilled ditch will
survive. The three linear features converge within the area of the monument.
All fences and the irrigation pipe structure are excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments
dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most
examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. They were constructed as
earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple
burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often
acted as a focus for burials in later periods. Often superficially similar,
although differing widely in size, they exhibit regional variations in form
and a diversity of burial practices. There are over 10,000 surviving bowl
barrows recorded nationally (many more have already been destroyed), occurring
across most of lowland Britain. Often occupying prominent locations, they are
a major historic element in the modern landscape and their considerable
variation of form and longevity as a monument type provide important
information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisations amongst early
prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period
and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of
protection.

Although the barrows have been partially altered by agricultural activity,
three are still clearly visible as upstanding mounds, retaining conditions for
the preservation of features within the mound, and were comparatively well
documented during a campaign of fieldwork in the 19th century. One barrow has
not been excavated and, although no longer visible as a mound, its below-
ground features will survive intact. The linear boundaries and cross-dyke
included in the scheduling are only visible from aerial photographs but the
below-ground remains of infilled ditches will survive intact and their
proximity to the barrows means that their chronological relationships may be
determined.
The monument is one of a closely associated group of barrows which have
further associations with broadly contemporary boundary earthworks in the
vicinity of Birdsall Wold. Similar groups of monuments are also known from the
southern edge of the North York Moors. Such associations between monuments
offer important scope for the study of the division of land for social, ritual
and agricultural purposes in different geographical areas during the
prehistoric period.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Mortimer, J R , Forty Years Researches in British and Saxon Burial Mounds of East Yorkshire, (1905)
Other
Stoetz, K., RCHME Survey,

Source: Historic England

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