Ancient Monuments

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Square barrow on Scawton Moor, adjacent to the quarry between Snip Gill Slack and Sword Rigg Slack

A Scheduled Monument in Old Byland and Scawton, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.2335 / 54°14'0"N

Longitude: -1.1259 / 1°7'33"W

OS Eastings: 457072.854775

OS Northings: 482331.81405

OS Grid: SE570823

Mapcode National: GBR NMLH.15

Mapcode Global: WHD8L.PV1D

Entry Name: Square barrow on Scawton Moor, adjacent to the quarry between Snip Gill Slack and Sword Rigg Slack

Scheduled Date: 24 May 1951

Last Amended: 10 October 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019337

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32684

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 the buried remains of a prehistoric burial mound located
on Scawton Moor immediately south east of a small stone quarry on the high
ground between Snip Gill Slack and Sword Rigg Slack. Sited on gently sloping
ground it overlooks the confluence of Nettle Dale and Rye Dale to the north.
The monument is spatially associated with a group of round barrows scattered
for 3.5km along the north side of the watershed to the south of Rye Dale.
These barrows are typically thought to be Bronze Age. However, the barrow
forming the monument is considered to be later in date because of the find of
a ceramic bead in the plough soil in 1952. This decorated bead, which was
given to the Yorkshire Museum, is Iron Age in style and is thought to have
come from the barrow. In addition, a 1982 aerial photograph shows a right
angled crop mark in the location of the monument which is interpreted as part
of the ditch around a square barrow, a characteristic Iron Age form of burial
mound. In 1947 the barrow was obscured by a crop of oats and has been
regularly ploughed, spreading the barrow so that no upstanding mound can now
be identified. However, excavation of other similar sites has shown that
archaeological remains can survive undisturbed under the plough soil. The
primary burial of a square barrow was normally placed in a rectangular or oval
pit cut into the original ground surface, sometimes dug into the bedrock,
before the construction of the covering mound.

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

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

Although the square barrow on Scawton Moor no longer retains upstanding
earthwork remains, it is still considered to retain buried deposits. The
plough soil will also retain material from the original covering mound. It
also lies outside the main concentration of such barrows which are located in
the Yorkshire Wolds.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
McDonnell, J, A History of Helmsley Rievaulx and District, (1963), 381
Print held by NYMNP, RCHME, NMR Spool Film 1678 Neg 49, (1979)

Source: Historic England

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