Ancient Monuments

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Four square barrows in Wykeham Forest, 330m north of Loft Howe

A Scheduled Monument in Hackness, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.2822 / 54°16'55"N

Longitude: -0.5424 / 0°32'32"W

OS Eastings: 494996.268765

OS Northings: 488371.556581

OS Grid: SE949883

Mapcode National: GBR SLNX.CQ

Mapcode Global: WHGBY.MMYL

Entry Name: Four square barrows in Wykeham Forest, 330m north of Loft Howe

Scheduled Date: 4 August 1933

Last Amended: 21 March 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017091

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32518

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Hackness

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Hutton Buscell St Matthew

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes a group of four square barrows situated on level ground
towards the northern scarp edge of the Tabular Hills.
The most southern barrow has a flat-topped earthen mound which stands up to
0.5m high. It is almost square in plan with sides measuring 7m and it is
orientated approximately north to south. Originally the mound would have been
surrounded by a ditch up to 2m wide, but this has become filled in over the
years by soil slipping from the mound and is now no longer visible as an
earthwork feature. The second barrow is situated 35m to the north east. It has
an earthen mound which stands up to 0.4m high. It is almost square in plan
with sides measuring 8m and it is orientated approximately north to south.
Originally the mound would have been surrounded by a ditch up to 2m wide, but
this has become filled in over the years by soil slipping from the mound and
is now no longer visible as an earthwork feature, except on the north and
south sides where there is a slight dip.
The third barrow is situated 32m to the WNW of the first and the fourth barrow
is situated 40m to the ENE of the first. Originally, both would have had
mounds of a similar size to the first two with a surrounding ditch up to 2m
wide. However, these are no longer visible as earthworks having been levelled
by forestry ploughing and the construction of a forestry track respectively,
although the grave pits and ditches will survive as subsoil cut features.
Forestry furrows cross the three southern barrows in a north to south
direction. An unsurfaced forestry track runs in an ENE to WSW direction
through the northern part of the monument.
The barrows lie within a dense concentration of prehistoric burial monuments
in an area which also includes the remains of prehistoric settlement and land

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

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 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 disturbance, the two barrows at the south east of the group 330m north
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. Although not now visible as earthworks, the two
other barrows will preserve valuable information about the burials placed
beneath them and their buried ditches will contain important environmental
evidence. Flat graves will also survive in the intervening areas and evidence
for the chronological relationship between the barrows will be preserved.

Source: Historic England


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

Source: Historic England

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