Ancient Monuments

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Square barrow on Silpho Moor 680m SSE of Breckenhurst

A Scheduled Monument in Harwood Dale, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.3346 / 54°20'4"N

Longitude: -0.5226 / 0°31'21"W

OS Eastings: 496162.601744

OS Northings: 494234.568417

OS Grid: SE961942

Mapcode National: GBR SLS9.NX

Mapcode Global: WHGBR.Y9BV

Entry Name: Square barrow on Silpho Moor 680m SSE of Breckenhurst

Scheduled Date: 24 November 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019472

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34539

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Harwood Dale

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Hackness with Harwood Dale

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes a square barrow situated in a prominent position on a
gentle south west facing slope, towards the north eastern scarp edge of the
Hackness Hills.
The barrow has a well-defined flat-topped earth and stone mound which stands
up to 1.1m high. It is sub-square in plan with a side measuring 10m, oriented
north to south. Partial excavation in the past has left an irregular hollow at
the north east corner. There is also a small pit from a previous excavation on
the west side of the mound, the spoil from which has been deposited to the
immediate west of the mound. The mound was originally surrounded by a ditch up
to 2m wide but this has become infilled over the years by soil slipping from
the mound and it is no longer visible as an earthwork feature.
The barrow lies in an area where there are many other prehistoric burial

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 square barrow on Silpho Moor 680m SSE of Breckenhurst is a rare example
of this type of barrow surviving as an upstanding earthwork, and it will
preserve a range of evidence within and upon the flat-topped mound which does
not survive on the plough-flattened examples elsewhere. It is one of only a
few to be identified on the Hackness Hills, although there is a greater
concentration on the Tabular Hills to the south west. The Hackness square
barrows form an important group of this monument type which will provide a
valuable insight into cultural development during the Iron Age.
Despite limited disturbance, this barrow has survived well.Information about
the original form of the barrow, the burials placed beneath it and any rituals
associated with its construction and use will be preserved. Evidence for
earlier land use and the contemporary environment will also survive beneath
the barrow mound and within the buried ditch.
The barrow is part of a group of six round and square barrows. The spatial and
chronological relationships between the two types of barrow are of
considerable importance for understanding the development of later prehistoric
society in eastern Yorkshire.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Spratt, D A , 'Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology in North East Yorkshire' in Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology of North East Yorkshire, , Vol. 87, (1993)
Title: Forestry Commission Areas North York Moors Archaeological Survey
Source Date: 1992
site 3.51

Source: Historic England

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