Ancient Monuments

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Two square barrows on Coomb Hill, 530m west of Coomb Slack Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Hackness, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.2916 / 54°17'29"N

Longitude: -0.5371 / 0°32'13"W

OS Eastings: 495319.392997

OS Northings: 489433.188633

OS Grid: SE953894

Mapcode National: GBR SLPT.JB

Mapcode Global: WHGBY.QDG9

Entry Name: Two square barrows on Coomb Hill, 530m west of Coomb Slack Farm

Scheduled Date: 4 August 1933

Last Amended: 10 January 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017149

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33500

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 two adjacent square barrows situated in a prominent
position at the northern scarp edge of the Tabular Hills.
The western barrow has a flat topped earth and stone mound which stands up to
0.7m high. It is sub-rectangular in plan and measures 7m north to south by 5m
east to west. In the centre of the mound there is a hollow caused by part
excavations in the past. The eastern barrow has an earth and stone mound which
stands up to 0.6m high. It is sub-square in plan with a side measuring 7m,
orientated north to south. In the centre of the mound there is a hollow caused
by part excavation in the past, which gives the once flat top an uneven
appearance. Both mounds were originally surrounded by a ditch up to 2m
wide, but these have become filled in over the years and are no longer
visible as earthworks.
The barrows lie within a dense concentration of prehistoric burial monuments,
in an area which also includes the remains of prehistoric settlement and land
A surfaced forestry track runs in a NNW to SSE direction between the two
barrows and this is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath
it is included.

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 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 two barrows 530m west of Coomb Slack Farm
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. The barrows are part of a group of seven round and
square barrows, six of which survive, and this kind of association provides
valuable insight into the relationship between the two types of barrow.

Source: Historic England


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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