A bowl barrow on Birdsall Brow, 100m west of Swinham Wood


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1007518

Date first listed: 26-Jun-1978

Date of most recent amendment: 14-Jan-1994


Ordnance survey map of A bowl barrow on Birdsall Brow, 100m west of Swinham Wood
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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)

Parish: Birdsall

National Grid Reference: SE 81194 63569

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 protection.

Although partially excavated in the 19th century, the barrow is essentially well preserved and the structure of the mound, as well as underlying ground surface and burials, will survive. The monument is one of the best preserved of a closely associated group of barrows which have further associations with broadly contemporary boundary earthworks in the vicinity of Birdsall Wold. Similar groups of monuments are also known 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 which is situated on a spring-line at the foot of the northern scarp of Birdsall Wold. The mound is oval in plan, measuring 16m by 12m and is 2.5m high. On the uphill (southern) side of the mound the natural scarp has been cut back to form a ditch 7m wide and 2.5m deep, while a slight hollow on the downhill side of the mound is thought to mark the line of the infilled northern arm of the ditch. An irregular hollow on the crest of the mound is thought to mark the location of a small-scale excavation conducted in 1850 by the York Archaeological Club.

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: 20469

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Mortimer, J R , Forty Years Researches in British and Saxon Burial Mounds of East Yorkshire, (1905)
'Transactions of the North Staffordshire Field Club' in Transactions of the North Staffordshire Field Club, , Vol. 46, (1911)

End of official listing