Ancient Monuments

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Danes Hills square barrow cemetery on Crook Moor

A Scheduled Monument in Skipwith, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 53.8513 / 53°51'4"N

Longitude: -0.9891 / 0°59'20"W

OS Eastings: 466598.760597

OS Northings: 439920.852044

OS Grid: SE665399

Mapcode National: GBR PRJX.N5

Mapcode Global: WHFCQ.SG6D

Entry Name: Danes Hills square barrow cemetery on Crook Moor

Scheduled Date: 2 December 1938

Last Amended: 2 December 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016619

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30176

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Skipwith

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Skipwith St Helen

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes the buried and earthwork remains of a group of
prehistoric burial mounds surviving to the north west of the junction between
Bonby and Broad Lanes on Crook Moor.
In 1850 the Yorkshire Antiquarian Club investigated a number of mounds,
containing what was described as calcareous matter, which is now identified as
cremated bone. The mounds were found to be surrounded by square ditches and
were likened to a larger group of barrows 3km to the south west on Skipwith
Common. Early editions of the Ordnance Survey mark a group of five mounds on
Crook Moor. More recent maps only mark the best preserved example. This
survives as a 10m diameter mound standing up to 0.6m high with evidence of a
surrounding ditch. The rest of the barrows can be seen as breaks of slope at
the edges of level areas standing up to 0.5m high, with the mounds of
individual barrows merging into one another to form larger raised areas.
The line of telegraph poles and all modern fencing that crosses the monument
is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Square barrows are funerary monuments of the Middle Iron Age, mostly dating
from the period between c.500 BC and c.50 BC. The majority of these monuments
are found 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 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. Despite the term `square', barrows can vary
in shape. The majority are truly square, although many have rounded corners
and some are more rectangular in plan. A few, however, occurring both in
square barrow cemeteries and individually, are actually round in plan, but
distinguishable from earlier Bronze Age round barrows by their smaller size.
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 burials 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. Some Iron Age barrows have been associated with an
unusual burial ritual of `spearing the corpse'.
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

The square barrow cemetery on Crook Moor is important as nationally it is one
of the very few examples of this class of monument with upstanding
earthwork remains. In addition along with the larger group on Skipwith Common,
it is the most westerly known cemetery of the Arras Culture, an Iron Age
grouping of people in eastern Yorkshire, who buried their dead under these
distinctive square ditched barrows. Excavations of similar sites in the 1970s
and 1980s have shown that cemeteries were typically very densely utilised,
sometimes with barrows sharing boundary ditches with their neighbours. The
larger raised areas are examples of such practices which, through centuries of
weathering and build up of vegetation, have merged to form continuous
mounds. The investigations in 1850 are thought to have been small scale and
extensive archaeological remains will still survive of both the mounds
themselves and of additional secondary burials, typically placed in the
ditches, and flat graves, without covering mounds, placed between the barrows.
The monument will contain important information about the mounds' construction
and the local environment in the Iron Age.

Source: Historic England


Record Card, Yorkshire Archaeology Society, SE63NE 02,

Source: Historic England

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