Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Danby Beacon round barrow

A Scheduled Monument in Glaisdale, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.4736 / 54°28'24"N

Longitude: -0.8655 / 0°51'55"W

OS Eastings: 473613.803778

OS Northings: 509280.687498

OS Grid: NZ736092

Mapcode National: GBR QJDQ.D4

Mapcode Global: WHF8P.PT1C

Entry Name: Danby Beacon round barrow

Scheduled Date: 9 January 1963

Last Amended: 21 January 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018765

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30161

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Glaisdale

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Glaisdale St Thomas

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes the buried and earthwork remains of a prehistoric burial
mound sited on the summit of Beacon Hill. The two mounds now standing within
50m to the east of the surviving round barrow are 20th century in origin and
are not included the scheduling.
The round barrow survives as a 22m diameter stone and earthen mound standing
up to 2.5m high. On the southern side of the mound there are a number of
exposed stones, some of which form a stone kerbing. The mound was reused from
at least the early post-medieval period as the site of a beacon. At its summit
there is a modern timber pole which has been used to support a beacon in 1988
as part of the 400th anniversary celebrations of the defeat of the Spanish

Excavation of other barrows has shown that even where no encircling depression
is discernible on the modern ground surface, ditches immediately around the
outside of barrows frequently survive as infilled features, containing
additional archaeological deposits.

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

Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments
dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most
examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. They were constructed as
earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple
burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often
acted as a focus for burials in later periods. Often superficially similar,
although differing widely in size, they exhibit regional variations in form
and a diversity of burial practices. There are over 10,000 surviving bowl
barrows recorded nationally (many more have already been destroyed), occurring
across most of lowland Britain. Often occupying prominent locations, they are
a major historic element in the modern landscape and their considerable
variation of form and longevity as a monument type provide important
information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisations amongst early
prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period
and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of

Danby beacon round barrow is an important example of the larger type of
prominently located barrows. Excavations of round barrows in the region have
shown that they demonstrate a very wide range of burial rites from simple
scatters of cremated material to coffin inhumations and cremations contained
in urns, typically dating to the Bronze Age. A common factor is that barrows
were normally used for more than one burial and that the primary burial was
frequently on or below the original ground surface, often with secondary
burials located within the body of the mound. Most barrows include a small
number of grave goods. These are often small pottery food vessels, but stone,
bone, jet and bronze items have also occasionally been found.
The barrow's importance is heightened by its use as the site of a beacon.
These were fires deliberately lit to give early warning of the approach of
hostile forces. They were always sited on prominent positions, usually as part
of a group or chain which together made up a comprehensive early warning
system covering most of the country. Beacons were extensively used during the
medieval period. Their use was formalised by 1325 and although some were used
later, for example at the time of Monmouth's Rebellion in 1685 or during the
Napoleonic Wars, the system was in decay by the mid-17th century. Beacons were
initially bonfires of wood or furze, but later barrels of pitch, or iron fire
baskets mounted on poles were used, often set on top of earthen mounds. More
unusual beacon types include purpose built towers and stone enclosures. Church
towers were also sometimes employed. Beacons were built throughout England
with approximately 500 recorded nationally. Few survive in the form of
physical remains, with most known only from place-name evidence.

Source: Historic England

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