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Square barrow on Westwood Common, 120m south of Blackmill

A Scheduled Monument in Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.836 / 53°50'9"N

Longitude: -0.4497 / 0°26'59"W

OS Eastings: 502114.563002

OS Northings: 438868.281

OS Grid: TA021388

Mapcode National: GBR TS92.FM

Mapcode Global: WHGF4.2V32

Entry Name: Square barrow on Westwood Common, 120m south of Blackmill

Scheduled Date: 21 June 1978

Last Amended: 19 January 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013995

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26563

County: East Riding of Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Beverley

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Riding of Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Beverley Minster St John and St Martin

Church of England Diocese: York

Details

The monument includes a square barrow on Westwood Common, Beverley, 120m south
of Blackmill. It is one of a group of prehistoric funerary earthworks
surviving together on Westwood Common, which represents a sizeable area of
prehistoric land in which prehistoric earthworks have survived because of the
establishment of common grazing rights here in the 14th century AD.
The monument is one of an important group of square barrows surviving as
upstanding earthworks on Westwood Common. It consists of a central square
burial platform about 0.4m high and 10m square, and is surrounded by a ditch
2m wide. Unlike the majority of others on the Common, it is not thought to
have been excavated by Canon Greenwell in the 19th century, and will therefore
survive with its burial contents intact.

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 is one of a closely associated group of prehistoric earthworks on
Westwood Common, which include both square and round 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.
The survival of square barrows as extant earthwork features is particularly
unusual. The monument has not been excavated, and will therefore still
contain original burials and grave goods. It is therefore a rare and important
example of its class, in addition to forming one of a well-defined group of
square barrows on Westwood Common.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Stead, I M, The Arras Culture, (1979), 98
Other
Humberside SMR, Sites and Monuments Records Sheet, (1994)
Mackay, Rodney , (1995)

Source: Historic England

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