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Four square barrows in Wykeham Forest, 520m north west of Loft Howe

A Scheduled Monument in Hackness, North Yorkshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 54.2837 / 54°17'1"N

Longitude: -0.5441 / 0°32'38"W

OS Eastings: 494882.261831

OS Northings: 488544.442502

OS Grid: SE948885

Mapcode National: GBR SLNX.05

Mapcode Global: WHGBY.ML4C

Entry Name: Four square barrows in Wykeham Forest, 520m north west of Loft Howe

Scheduled Date: 4 August 1933

Last Amended: 21 March 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017090

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32516

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Hackness

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Details

The monument includes three adjacent square barrows and a fourth square barrow
to the west, situated on level ground towards the northern scarp edge of the
Tabular Hills.
The three adjacent barrows have flat-topped earth and stone mounds which are
almost square in plan and orientated approximately north to south. They are
situated in a line which runs ENE to WSW. The eastern barrow has a mound which
measures 9m along its side and which stands up to 0.7m high. The eastern
corners have been rounded by forestry ploughing. In the centre of the mound
there is a hollow caused by partial excavations in the past. The central
barrow has a mound measuring 8m along its length which stands up to 0.6m high.
The western corners have been rounded by forestry ploughing. The western
barrow has a mound which stands up to 0.5m high and originally had a side
measuring 7m in length. However, forestry ploughing over the top of the mound
has given it a more irregular appearance. The separate barrow is situated on
the same line as the adjacent three, 45m to the WSW. It has an earth and stone
mound which stands up to 1m high. It is almost square in plan its sides
measure 8m and it is orientated approximately north to south. The mound would
once have had a flat top but this has been obscured by a trench running from
the centre to the southern edge, caused by partial excavation in the past. All
four mounds were originally surrounded by a ditch up to 2m wide, but these
have become filled in over the years by soil slipping from the mounds and
obscured by forestry ploughing at the mound edges, so that they are no longer
visible as earthwork features. On the west side of the eastern of the three
adjacent barrows and the east side of the central barrow of the three, the
ditches are buried beneath the forestry track which runs in a north to south
direction between the barrows.
The barrows lie within a dense concentration of prehistoric burial monuments,
in an area which also includes the remains of prehistoric settlement and land
division.
The surfaced forestry track which runs between two of the barrows is excluded
from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it is included.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 5 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 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 both round
and square barrows. The very large number of burial monuments includes
particularly rare examples of square barrows surviving as upstanding
earthworks, and these will preserve a range of evidence within and upon the
flat topped mounds which does not survive on the plough flattened examples
elsewhere. These square barrows form an important group of this monument type
which will provide valuable insight into cultural development during the Iron
Age. The spatial and chronological relationships between the round and square
barrows in the Wykeham Forest area, and between both types of barrow and other
prehistoric monuments, are of considerable importance for understanding the
development of later prehistoric society in eastern Yorkshire.
Despite limited disturbance, the square barrows in Wykeham Forest, 520m north
west of Loft Howe, survive well. Significant information about the original
form of the barrows, the burials placed beneath them and any rituals
associated with their construction and use will be preserved. Evidence for
earlier land use and the contemporary environment will also survive beneath
the barrow mounds and within the buried ditches.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Lee, G E, Wykeham Archaeological Survey, (1991)
Mytum, H, 'Moorland Monuments' in Iron Age square barrows on the North York Moors, , Vol. 101, (1995), 31-37

Source: Historic England

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