Ancient Monuments

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Round barrow on Sproxton Moor, 410m north of Tom Smith's Cross

A Scheduled Monument in Old Byland and Scawton, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.226 / 54°13'33"N

Longitude: -1.1272 / 1°7'38"W

OS Eastings: 456996.1065

OS Northings: 481494.12706

OS Grid: SE569814

Mapcode National: GBR NMKK.RV

Mapcode Global: WHD8S.N1FL

Entry Name: Round barrow on Sproxton Moor, 410m north of Tom Smith's Cross

Scheduled Date: 24 May 1951

Last Amended: 10 October 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019336

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32683

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Old Byland and Scawton

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Upper Ryedale

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes earthwork and associated buried remains of a prehistoric
burial mound located at the southern, uphill end of Sword Rigg, overlooking
the Rye Dale to the north.
The monument is one of a group of round barrows scattered for 3.5km along the
north side of the watershed to the south of Rye Dale. The other surviving
round barrows of this group are the subject of separate schedulings. With the
removal of intervening trees, the monument would probably have been
intervisible with the barrow 850m to the north as well as the three barrows on
Far Moor 1.4km to the north east. The monument is sited on effectively level
ground which only rises a few more metres to form the top of the watershed
which lies 200m-300m to the south. From a surface inspection the round barrow
appears to be mainly of earthen construction with some small stones no more
than cobble sized. It forms a 1.2m high, well-rounded mound 8m in diameter.
There is evidence that a 1m wide trench has been dug from the north side to
the centre where there is a central hollow 1m in diameter at the top and 0.6m
in diameter at the base 0.8m down. This depression is thought to be the result
of an unrecorded antiquarian excavation. Excavation of other examples of
round barrows in the region have shown that even where no encircling
depression is discernible on the modern ground surface, ditches immediately
around the outside of the mound frequently survive as infilled features,
containing additional archaeological deposits. A margin to allow for such an
infilled ditch up to 2m wide is thus also included within the monument.

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

Round barrows 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 mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered
single or multiple burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as
cemeteries and often acted as a focus of 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 examples recorded nationally (many more have already
been destroyed), occurring across most of Britain, including the Wessex area
where it is often possible to classify them more closely, for example as bowl
or bell barrows. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major
historic element in the modern landscape and their considerable variation in
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

The majority of round barrows in the region were dug into by 19th century
antiquarians in search of burials and artifacts, leaving behind a central
depression as evidence of their work. However excavations in the latter half
of the 20th century have shown that round barrows typically contain
archaeological information that survives earlier digging. Secondary burials
tend to be located within the main body of the mound and sometimes one of
these was mistaken for the primary burial which was usually the goal of the
antiquarian. Even when the primary burial has been excavated, further
secondary burials often survive in the undisturbed surrounding part of the
mound and infilled ditch. Additional valuable information about the mound's
construction and the local environment at the time of its construction will
also survive antiquarian excavation.
The round barrow on Sproxton Moor, 410m north of Tom Smith's Cross, is one is
one of an extensive group of relatively well preserved round barrows on
Scawton and Sproxton Moors which together will retain important information
about Bronze Age society in the area.

Source: Historic England

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