Pike Low bowl barrow and site of beacon, Bonfire Hill


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1008917

Date first listed: 12-Nov-1928

Date of most recent amendment: 21-Sep-1994


Ordnance survey map of Pike Low bowl barrow and site of beacon, Bonfire Hill
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Lancashire

District: Burnley (District Authority)

Parish: Briercliffe

National Grid Reference: SD 89442 34227


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.

Despite partial mutilation of the extreme northern edge of the monument by quarrying and its use as the site of a beacon, Pike Low bowl barrow survives reasonably well. It is not known to have been excavated and will therefore retain undisturbed archaeological deposits within the mound and upon the old landsurface beneath. It is a rare example of the site of a barrow being utilised from medieval times on as a beacon. This latter use was for defence and the beacon gave warning of the approach of hostile forces and also functioned as a signal to muster forces. It is one of the earliest types of beacons, being little more than a bonfire set on the ground, and would have formed part of a group, chain, or line of beacons. It will facilitate any further study of the beacon system of warning and defence employed in this area of north west England.


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


The monument includes Pike Low Bronze Age bowl barrow and the site of a later beacon. It is located on the summit of Bonfire Hill and commands extensive views of east Lancashire in all directions except the east. The barrow includes a slightly oval mound of earth and stones up to 0.6m high with maximum dimensions of 15m east-west by 13m north-south. It has been partly mutilated on its northern side by an adjacent quarry, and on its summit where it has been flattened to accommodate the bonfire for the beacon from which the name Bonfire Hill originates.

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: 23720

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
'Trans Hist Soc Lancs & Chesh' in Trans Hist Soc Lancs and Chesh, , Vol. 9, (1856), 34
Darvill, T, MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Bowl Barrows, (1989)
Leach,P.E., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Beacons, (1989)

End of official listing