Three bowl barrows on Birdsall Wold, 400m north-west of Vessey Pasture Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1007574

Date first listed: 17-Jan-1994


Ordnance survey map of Three bowl barrows on Birdsall Wold, 400m north-west of Vessey Pasture 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 82188 62897


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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 been partially altered by agricultural activity, one is still visible, retaining conditions for the preservation of features within and beneath the mound, and was comparatively well-documented during a campaign of fieldwork in the 19th century. The below-ground remains of the other two barrows, including burials, will survive intact. The monument consists of three 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.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes three bowl barrows situated on the crest of Birdsall Wold, near the head of Vessey Pasture Dale. The barrows are among a number of prehistoric monuments on Birdsall Wold. Although altered over the years by agricultural activity, the westernmost barrow is visible as a slight mound 0.3m high with a diameter of 24m. A ditch 22m in diameter, from which the material for the mound was quarried, is visible on aerial photographs; this has become infilled over the years and is now covered by the edges of the mound. The second and third barrows lie almost due east, with centres at 26m and 42m from the centre of the first and, although they have been infilled and no longer survive as earthworks, the circular quarry ditches, each 16m in diameter, have been observed by aerial photography. The western barrow was recorded and partially excavated by J R Mortimer in 1868, when central cremation burials and a six foot deep grave were uncovered. The encircling ditch was found to be 1.5m wide at the top and 1m deep. The other two barrows were not excavated and their buried features such as the ditches and grave 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: 20487

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Mortimer, J R , Forty Years Researches in British and Saxon Burial Mounds of East Yorkshire, (1905)
Stoetz, K., RCHME unpublished survey,

End of official listing