A bowl barrow on Birdsall Wold, between Birdsall Dale and Vessey Pasture Dale
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1007442
Date first listed: 15-Jan-1931
Date of most recent amendment: 27-Jan-1994
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
County: North Yorkshire
District: Ryedale (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: SE 81694 62262
Reasons for Designation
Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, 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 or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple
burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often
acted as a focus for 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 bowl
barrows recorded nationally (many more have already been destroyed), occurring
across most of lowland Britain. Often occupying prominent locations, they are
a major historic element in the modern landscape and their considerable
variation of 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 barrow is well preserved and was comparatively well documented during a campaign of fieldwork in the 19th century. It will retain further evidence of the form of the barrow mound and the burials placed within it. The monument is one of the best preserved of a closely associated group of barrows which have further associations with broadly contemporary boundary earthworks on Birdsall Wold. Similar groups of monuments are also known from other parts of the Wolds and from the southern edge of the North York Moors. Such associations between monuments offer important scope for the study of the division of land for social, ritual and agricultural purposes in different geographical areas during the prehistoric period.
The monument includes a bowl barrow situated on the crest of a southward spur
of Birdsall Wold, between Birdsall Dale and Vessey Pasture Dale, which is one
of the highest points on the Wold. The barrow is one of a number of
prehistoric monuments in the vicinity.
The barrow, which comprises a 2m high mound with a diameter of 30m, was
recorded and partially excavated by J R Mortimer in 1873. Although there is no
visible trace of a ditch surrounding the mound, its width is estimated as 3m.
The excavations revealed that the mound has several phases of construction and
traces of a timber structure were found. Given its prominent location, it is
likely that the barrow was used for the interment of important individuals.
MAP EXTRACT 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.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: 20476
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Mortimer, J R , Forty Years Researches in British and Saxon Burial Mounds of East Yorkshire, (1905)
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing