Pillow mounds east of Friars Head, known as Giants' Graves
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1012002
Date first listed: 20-Jul-1966
Date of most recent amendment: 13-May-1996
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
County: North Yorkshire
District: Craven (District Authority)
Parish: Flasby with Winterburn
National Park: YORKSHIRE DALES
National Grid Reference: SD 93313 57522
Reasons for Designation
A warren is an area of land set aside for the breeding and management of
rabbits or hares in order to provide a constant supply of fresh meat and
skins. Although the hare is an indigenous species, the tradition of warren
construction and use dates from the 12th century, following the introduction
of rabbits into England from the continent. Warrens usually contain a number
of purpose-built breeding places known as pillow mounds or rabbit buries,
which were intended to centralise the colony and make catching the animals
easier, whether using nets, ferrets or dogs. The mounds vary in design
although rarely exceeding 0.7m in height. Earlier monuments such as burial
mounds, boundary features and mottes were sometimes reused as breeding places.
The mounds are usually surrounded by ditches and contain underlying channels
or are situated on sloping ground to facilitate drainage. The interior of the
mound may also contain nesting places constructed of stone slabs or cut into
the underlying subsoil or bedrock.
A typical warren may contain between one and forty pillow mounds or rabbit
buries and occupy an area up to c.600ha. Many warrens were enclosed by a bank,
hedge or wall intended to contain and protect the stock. Other features
associated with the warren include vermin traps (usually a dead-fall mechanism
within a small tunnel), and more rarely traps for the warren stock (known in
Yorkshire as `types') which could contain the animals unharmed and allow for
selective culling. Larger warrens might include living quarters for the
warrener who kept charge of the site, sometimes surrounded by an enclosed
garden and outbuildings.
Early warrens were mostly associated with the higher levels of society;
however, they gradually spread in popularity so that by the 16th and 17th
centuries they were a common feature on most manors and estates throughout the
country. Warrens continued in use until fairly recent times, finally declining
in the face of 19th and 20th century changes in agricultural practice, and the
onset of myxomatosis. Warrens are found in all parts of England, the earliest
examples lying in the southern part of the country. Approximately 1,000 -
2,000 examples are known nationally with concentrations in upland areas, on
heathland and in coastal zones. The profits from a successfully managed warren
could, however, be considerable and many areas in lowland England were set
aside for warrens at the expense of agricultural land. Although relatively
common, warrens are important for their associations with other classes of
monument, including various forms of settlement, deer parks, field systems and
fishponds. They may also provide evidence of the economy of both secular and
ecclesiastical estates. All well preserved medieval examples are considered
worthy of protection. A sample of well preserved sites of later date will also
The monument, although partly disturbed, is still a well preserved example of what is, within the Yorkshire Dales, a rare monument type.
The pillow mounds are situated on a west facing gradient on the side of
Scarnber Hill. The monument includes three mounds 10m-12m long, 4.2m wide and
0.5m high; these were purpose built breeding places for the management of
rabbits and hares. Each mound has a slight ditch along both sides and across
the east end at the top of the slope. The south mound is less distinct and the
ditch barely perceptible. The ground at the west end of the northern mound is
uneven and appears to have been disturbed at some time.
South of the monument is another series of five less distinct and less well
preserved pillow mounds; due to their condition, these are not included in the
scheduling. These pillow mounds are associated with the former medieval
monastic grange at Friars Head.
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: 24503
Legacy System: RSM
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