Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Round barrow, 50m south of Sour Leys Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Rievaulx, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.2837 / 54°17'1"N

Longitude: -1.1228 / 1°7'22"W

OS Eastings: 457206.859

OS Northings: 487918.956

OS Grid: SE572879

Mapcode National: GBR NLLX.Q5

Mapcode Global: WHD8D.QLJD

Entry Name: Round barrow, 50m south of Sour Leys Farm

Scheduled Date: 6 October 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019338

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32685

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Rievaulx

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Helmsley All Saints

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes earthwork and buried remains of a prehistoric burial
mound immediately to the south of Sour Leys Farm.
The barrow is prominently sited on slightly sloping ground on the eastern
hillside overlooking Rye Dale. It is 14m in diameter and stands up to 1.8m
high. From a surface inspection, it appears to use a large quantity of rough
stone in its construction, typically cobble sized but ranging up to about 0.4m
across. The barrow has been partly excavated as there are the remains of a 4m
wide trench that has been cut through the middle of the mound east-west.
According to local tradition, this was the result of investigations carried
out by Cecil Duncombe in c.1880, who is reputed to have uncovered a skeleton
with a bronze sword, or, more likely, a bronze dagger.
Although there are no obvious indications of an encircling ditch, 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 3m wide is thus also included within the

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, 50m south of Sour Leys Farm, is still a significant
earthwork feature in the landscape despite its partial excavation and will
retain important archaeological information.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
McDonnell, J, A History of Helmsley Rievaulx and District, (1963), 377

Source: Historic England

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