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Enclosed cremation cemetery at Willot Head, 510m south west of Loft Howe

A Scheduled Monument in Wykeham, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.278 / 54°16'40"N

Longitude: -0.55 / 0°33'0"W

OS Eastings: 494505.911273

OS Northings: 487900.8174

OS Grid: SE945879

Mapcode National: GBR SLLZ.Q6

Mapcode Global: WHGBY.JQ9R

Entry Name: Enclosed cremation cemetery at Willot Head, 510m south west of Loft Howe

Scheduled Date: 14 December 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017032

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33513

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Wykeham

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire


The monument includes an enclosed cremation cemetery situated on level ground
towards the northern scarp edge of the Tabular Hills.
The cemetery has a circular enclosure bounded by an earth and stone bank up
to 2m wide and standing up to 0.4m high. The interior of the circle has a
maximum diameter of 13m. Originally the bank would have had an internal kerb
of stones to define the area within the enclosed circle, but over the years
most of these have been taken away or disturbed by forestry ploughing so that
now only two are visible on the eastern side. The enclosing bank is surrounded
by an outer ditch which is up to 1.5m wide and 0.4m deep. On the south side of
the enclosed cremation cemetery there is a deep hollow way running east to
west which has truncated the outer ditch. Shallow forestry furrows run across
the monument in both east to west and north to south directions.
The cremation cemetery lies within a dense concentration of prehistoric
burial monuments, in an area which also includes the remains of prehistoric
settlement and land division.

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

An enclosed cremation cemetery is a burial place comprising one or more
deposits of burnt human remains interred within a roughly circular or oval
enclosure bounded by a bank and outer ditch. Present evidence suggests that
enclosed cremation cemeteries were essentially burial places and ceremonial
foci of Late Neolithic date which may well represent the antecedents of the
more widespread ring cairn tradition of the Early and Middle Bronze Age. As a
monument class, enclosed cremation cemeteries have only relatively recently
been defined and only a very few examples have been identified so far, all of
them in the southern part of the country. This is unlikely to be an accurate
reflection of the original number present. As a rare monument type, all
positively identified enclosed cremation cemeteries are considered to be of
national importance.
A ring cairn is a prehistoric ritual monument comprising a circular bank of
stones surrounding a hollow central area. The bank may be kerbed on the
inside, and sometimes on the outside as well, with small uprights or laid
boulders. Ring cairns are found mainly in upland areas of England and are
interpreted as ritual monuments of Early and Middle Bronze Age date. The exact
nature of the rituals concerned is not fully understood, but excavation has
revealed pits, some containing burials and others containing charcoal and
pottery, taken to indicate feasting activities associated with the burial
rituals. Ring cairns occasionally lie within round barrow cemeteries and in
northern England they are often associated with cairnfields.
On the North York Moors a number of prehistoric ritual monuments have been
identified as enclosed cremation cemeteries. They have characteristics in
common with both the Late Neolithic enclosed cremation cemeteries found
further south and Bronze Age ring cairns. None of the identified examples have
been subjected to modern investigation but it seems likely that they represent
either the earthen counterparts of ring cairns or a chronological stage in
their development. As such, they will contain important information to aid our
understanding of the development and complexity of funerary and ritual
practice during the Late Neolithic and Bronze Age periods.
The Tabular Hills in the Wykeham Forest area contain a dense concentration of
prehistoric monuments, dating from the Neolithic to the Iron Age, which
includes field systems, enclosures and land boundaries as well as ritual and
funerary monuments. The spatial and chronological relationships between the
different monuments in this area are of considerable importance for
understanding the development of later prehistoric society in eastern
Despite disturbance the enclosed cremation cemetery at Willot Head survives
well. Significant information about the date and form of construction will be
preserved. Important evidence for the nature and duration of the rituals
involved in its use will survive in the interior of the enclosure. Evidence
for earlier land use and the contemporary environment will be preserved
beneath the bank and within the lower ditch fills.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Lee, G E, Wykeham Archaeological Survey, (1991)

Source: Historic England

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