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Group of four square barrows on Westwood Common, 200m north west of Blackmill

A Scheduled Monument in Bishop Burton, East Riding of Yorkshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.838 / 53°50'16"N

Longitude: -0.4529 / 0°27'10"W

OS Eastings: 501898.382136

OS Northings: 439084.787313

OS Grid: TA018390

Mapcode National: GBR TS81.QX

Mapcode Global: WHGF4.0SLK

Entry Name: Group of four square barrows on Westwood Common, 200m north west of Blackmill

Scheduled Date: 21 June 1978

Last Amended: 19 January 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013994

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26562

County: East Riding of Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Bishop Burton

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Riding of Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Beverley St Mary

Church of England Diocese: York

Details

The monument includes four Iron Age square barrows on Westwood Common,
Beverley, 200m north west of Blackmill. Together they represent an important
group of prehistoric funerary earthworks surviving together on Westwood
Common, which itself represents a sizeable area of land in which prehistoric
earthworks have survived because of the establishment of common grazing rights
here in the 14th century AD.
The group includes three clearly square, and one sub-rectangular or nearly
circular-shaped Iron Age barrow, which was excavated by Canon Greenwell in
1875, and produced a fine cart burial, now in the British Museum. This barrow
measures 6.5m in diameter and 0.5m in height, and now has the appearance of a
small bowl barrow, owing to the disturbance of the monument during its
excavation by Greenwell.
It was found to contain a central, oval grave, containing two tyres, each with
an iron hoop, and two bits, as well as other pieces of iron. Given the acidity
of the soil here, bones did not survive.
Although Greenwell is reported to have opened other barrows on Westwood
Common, in addition to these described above, it is not thought that the
remaining group of three clearly square barrows here were opened, as they
appear to be undisturbed.
Two square barrows lie on an east-west alignment to the north of the round
barrow described above. The best surviving square barrow of this group lies
4m to the north east of the semicircular barrow excavated by Greenwell,
described above. It includes a low central platform 8m square and up to 0.4m
high, surrounded by a ditch 1.5m - 2m wide and up to 0.3m deep. A low bank
2.5m wide surrounds the ditch. On the westward side this bank joins the
western square barrow, the two monuments existing side by side, and thus forms
the eastern bank to this monument. The western barrow has a central low
platform 9m square and up to 0.35m high, and is also surrounded by a low ditch
about 0.3m deep and up to 2m wide.
At a distance of 8m - 10m to the south of these two square barrows lies a
third, which is aligned approximately centrally to their common co-joining
inner bank. It consists of a central low platform about 9m square and 0.3m
high, surrounded by a ditch up to 2m wide and 0.25m deep, and a low bank
2.5m wide. The northern edge of this monument lies 4m - 5m to the south of the
barrow excavated by Greenwell.
The square barrows here form part of an important group of square barrows
surviving as upstanding earthworks on Westwood Common.
This close-packed configuration, whereby the east-west aligned barrows share a
central bank, is typical of these Iron Age square barrows, which are often
found tightly-packed in large groups forming a cemetery, as at Carnaby near
Burton Agnes, Burton Fleming and Rudston, where many of the barrows share
ditches with their adjoining neighbours.

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

Square barrows are funerary monuments of the Middle Iron Age, most examples
dating from the period between c.500 BC and c.50 BC. The majority of these
monuments are found in the area between the River Humber and the southern
slopes of the North Yorkshire Moors but a wider distribution has also been
identified, principally through aerial photography, spreading through the
river valleys of the Midlands and south Essex. Around 200 square barrow
cemeteries have been recorded; in addition, a further 250 sites consisting of
single barrows or small groups of barrows have been identified.
Square barrows, which may be square or rectangular, were constructed as
earthen mounds surrounded by a ditch and covering one or more bodies. Slight
banks around the outer edge of the ditch have been noted in some examples. The
main burial is normally central and carefully placed in a rectangular or oval
grave pit, although burials placed on the ground surface below the mound are
also known.
A number of different types of burial have been identified, accompanied by
grave goods which vary greatly in range and type. The most elaborate include
the dismantled parts of a two-wheeled vehicle placed in the grave with the
body of the deceased.
Ploughing and intensive land use since prehistoric times have eroded and
levelled most square barrows and very few remain as upstanding monuments,
although the ditches and the grave pits, with their contents, will survive
beneath the ground surface. The different forms of burial and the variations
in the type and range of artefacts placed in the graves provide important
information on the beliefs, social organisation and material culture of these
Iron Age communities and their development over time. All examples of square
barrows which survive as upstanding earthworks, and a significant proportion
of the remainder, are considered of national importance and worthy of
protection.

The monument includes four Iron Age square barrows of a closely associated
group of prehistoric earthworks on Westwood Common, which includes both square
and bowl barrows, as well as Romano-British enclosures, linear boundary dykes
and a short section of Roman road. The group has survived as part of a rare
landscape characterised by features dating back as far as the Bronze Age,
which has owed its survival to the granting of common grazing rights to the
local people of Beverley in the 14th century AD. The survival of such an
extensive area of prehistoric earthworks is unusual in this region of East
Yorkshire, where arable agricultural practices have resulted in the
destruction of many earthwork remains of monuments above ground. It offers
important insights into ancient land use and territorial divisions for social,
ritual and agricultural purposes in this area, and the development of these
through time.
Although one barrow of the group was subject to a part excavation by Canon
Greenwell in 1875, it is not thought that the three surviving square barrows
were disturbed, and they will therefore survive with their archaeological
integrity fully intact. The remaining excavated barrow still survives as a
visible earthwork, and will contain further archaeological information
relating to its construction. Together they constitute part of a well-defined
group of Iron Age barrows on the Common.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Greenwell, W , British Barrows, (1877), 456
Greenwell, W , British Barrows, (1877), 456
Stead, I M, The Arras Culture, (1979), 98
Other
Humberside SMR, Sites and Monuments Records Sheet, (1994)
Kinnes, IA and Longworth, IH, Catalogue of the excavated material in the Greenwell collection, Catalogue of Excavated Material in the Greenwell Collection, (1985)
Mackay, Rodney , (1995)

Source: Historic England

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