Ancient Monuments

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Three round barrows and six cup and ring marked rocks, 740m south east of Howdale Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Fylingdales, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.4001 / 54°24'0"N

Longitude: -0.525 / 0°31'29"W

OS Eastings: 495855.552419

OS Northings: 501511.734509

OS Grid: NZ958015

Mapcode National: GBR SKSK.4G

Mapcode Global: WHGBC.XN6Q

Entry Name: Three round barrows and six cup and ring marked rocks, 740m south east of Howdale Farm

Scheduled Date: 15 November 1934

Last Amended: 9 April 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019682

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34380

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Fylingdales

Built-Up Area: Robin Hood's Bay

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Ravenscar St Hilda

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes two adjacent round barrows, a third separate barrow, six
cup and ring marked rocks and the ground in between these features in which
unmarked burials and other archaeological remains will survive.
It is located on level ground between two streams in the middle of Howdale
Moor. This is the easternmost extent of the sandstone, heather covered
moor characteristic of the North York Moors. Today the moor is little used but
archaeological evidence indicates that this has not always been the case. The
prehistoric period in particular saw extensive agricultural use of the area.
It was also then being used for burials and activities associated with the
carving of patterns on exposed rock. Remains of these activities survive
The monument extends over an area approximately 100m north west-south east by
60m south west-north east. The two northern barrows lie 10m apart. Each barrow
has a circular earth and stone mound. The western mound measures 5m in
diameter and is 0.75m high. The eastern mound measures 4m in diameter and is
0.5m high. The third barrow lies 40m to the south east. This has an earth and
stone mound measuring 6m in diameter and is 0.4m high. Each of the three
mounds was surrounded by a ditch up to 3m wide which has been filled in and is
no longer visible as an earthwork.
Five of the cup and ring marked rocks are clustered just to the north of the
two western barrows and the sixth 4m to the south of the central barrow.
The designs are carved and pecked into earthfast rocks and include cup
marks, spirals and channels with various patterns and complexity. The simplest
pattern is a single small rock with a single cup mark. The most sophisticated
design is carved into a large boulder measuring 1.5m by 1.5m by 1.0m high. On
the surface of this there are five cup marks, four with encircling rings and
comb patterns. One other stone has 25 cup marks on a surface measuring 1.3m by
1.1m. The barrows and the carved rocks are thought to be broadly contemporary
although their relationship is not currently fully understood. There is a
similar cluster of carved rocks located in a prominent position 700m to the
south east which are the subject of separate schedulings.

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

Prehistoric rock art is found on natural rock outcrops in many areas of upland
Britain. It is especially common in the north of England in Northumberland,
Durham and North and West Yorkshire. The most common form of decoration is
the `cup and ring' marking where expanses of small cup-like hollows are pecked
into the surface of the rock. These cups may be surrounded by one or more
`rings'. Single pecked lines extending from the cup through the `rings' may
also exist, providing the design with a `tail'. Pecked lines or grooves can
also exist in isolation from cup and ring decoration. Other shapes and
patterns also occur, but are less frequent. Carvings may occur singly, in
small groups, or may cover extensive areas of rock surface. They date to the
Late Neolithic and Bronze Age periods (c.2800-500 BC) and provide one of our
most important insights into prehistoric `art'. The exact meaning of the
designs remains unknown, but they may be interpreted as sacred or religious
Frequently they are found close to contemporary burial monuments and the
symbols are also found on portable stones placed directly next to burials or
incorporated in burial mounds. Around 800 examples of prehistoric rock-art
have been recorded in England. This is unlikely to be a realistic reflection
of the number carved in prehistory. Many will have been overgrown or
destroyed in activities such as quarrying. All positively identified
prehistoric rock art sites exhibiting a significant group of designs will
normally be identified as nationally important.
These barrows have survived well, so significant information about the
original form of the barrows and the burials placed within them will be
preserved. Evidence of earlier land use will also survive beneath the barrow
The cup and ring marked rocks survive well. Such monuments are rare in the
North York Moors and these examples are part of an unusually significant
concentration of similar carved rocks on Howdale Moor. Taken with the
surrounding rock art and other prehistoric sites, the monument offers
important scope for understanding the changing patterns of ritual and social
activities in the area during the prehistoric period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Bradley, R, Rock Art and the Prehistory of Atlantic Europe, (1997)
Smith, M J B, Excavated Bronze Age Burial Mounds of Durham and N' land., (1994), 1-38
Chappell, Cup and ring carvings-survey record sheets, (1997)
Chappell, Cup and ring carvings-survey record sheets, (1997)
Chappell, Cup and ring carvings-survey record sheets, (1997)
Chappell, Cup and ring carvings-survey record sheets, (1997)
Chappell, Cup and ring carvings-survey record sheets, (1997)
Chappell, Cup and ring carvings-survey record sheets, (1997)

Source: Historic England

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