Greenlands barrow group: five bowl barrows on Toisland Wold, 500m east of Toisland Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1007567

Date first listed: 17-Jan-1994


Ordnance survey map of Greenlands barrow group: five bowl barrows on Toisland Wold, 500m east of Toisland Farm
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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 83567 63399

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 the barrows have all been partially altered by agricultural activity, below-ground remains of the encircling ditch and the contents of grave pits, as well as any archaeological features between the barrows will survive intact. The monument is a closely associated group of five barrows which has 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 group of five bowl barrows situated on the crest of Toisland Wold, in an area known as Greenlands. The barrow group is one of a number of prehistoric monuments at the eastern end of Birdsall Wold. Although the barrows have been altered by agricultural activity and none is visible as an earthwork, the circular ditches surrounding the barrows are visible on aerial photographs. The ditches range in diameter from 8m to 22m, defining the outlines of four barrows lying in a line (on a north-easterly alignment) and one barrow lying just south-east of the line of four. The ditches were dug to provide material for the construction of the mounds. These mounds have been levelled over the years while the ditches have become infilled. Despite this, there is no evidence that the below-ground remains of any of the barrows have been disturbed; the buried ditch and the contents of burial pits will remain undisturbed.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 3 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: 20509

Legacy System: RSM


Stoetz, K., RCHME Survey,
Stoetz, K., RCHME unpublished survey,

End of official listing