Oval barrow on Westwood Common, 55m north west of Blackmill


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014000

Date first listed: 06-Feb-1996


Ordnance survey map of Oval barrow on Westwood Common, 55m north west of Blackmill
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This copy shows the entry on 20-Nov-2018 at 15:43:25.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: East Riding of Yorkshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Beverley

National Grid Reference: TA 02037 39015


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

Reasons for Designation

Oval barrows are funerary and ceremonial monuments of the Early to Middle Neolithic periods, with the majority of dated monuments belonging to the later part of the range. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds of roughly elliptical plan, usually delimited by quarry ditches. These ditches can vary from paired "banana-shaped" ditches flanking the mound to "U-shaped" or unbroken oval ditches nearly or wholly encircling it. Along with the long barrows, oval barrows represent the burial places of Britain's early farming communities and, as such, are amongst the oldest field monuments surviving visibly in the present landscape. Where investigated, oval barrows have produced two distinct types of burial rite: communal burials of groups of individuals, including adults and children, laid directly on the ground surface before the barrow was built; and burials of one or two adults interred in a grave pit centrally placed beneath the barrow mound. Certain sites provide evidence for several phases of funerary monument preceding the barrow and, consequently, it is probable that they may have acted as important ritual sites for local communities over a considerable period of time. Similarly, as the filling of the ditches around oval barrows often contains deliberately placed deposits of pottery, flintwork and bone, periodic ceremonial activity may have taken place at the barrow subsequent to its construction. Oval barrows are very rare nationally, with less than 50 recorded examples in England. As one of the few types of Neolithic structure to survive as earthworks, and due to their rarity, their considerable age and their longevity as a monument type, all oval barrows are considered to be nationally important.

This oval barrow is one of a closely associated group of prehistoric earthworks on Westwood Common, which includes both square and round barrows, as well as Romano-British enclosures, linear boundary dykes and a short section of Roman road. The group has survived as part of a rare landscape characterised by features dating back as far as the Bronze Age, which has owed its survival to the granting of common grazing rights to the local people of Beverley in the 14th century AD. The survival of such an extensive area of prehistoric earthworks is unusual in this region of East Yorkshire, where arable agricultural practices have resulted in the destruction of many earthwork remains of monuments above ground. It offers important insights into ancient land use and territorial divisions for social, ritual and agricultural purposes in this area, and the development of these through time. The survival of oval barrows is particularly unusual in the north east of England, and although the monument has sustained some superficial damage, it still retains much of its overall visual integrity as an earthwork and will contain archaeological information relating to the period of its construction. It is also a rare and important example of its class, in addition to forming one of a well defined group of important funerary monuments here.


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


The monument includes an oval barrow on Westwood Common, Beverley, 55m north west of Blackmill. It is one of an important group of prehistoric funerary earthworks surviving together on Westwood Common, which represents a sizeable area of land in which prehistoric earthworks have survived because of the establishment of common grazing rights here in the 14th century AD. The monument shows up very clearly on all aerial photographs of the area. It is 20m long east-west and 13m wide north-south overall, and consists of a central oval mound, surviving up to a metre in height, 14m in length and 9m wide, which has a slight depression in its centre, possibly owing to past damage or interference. This central mound is surrounded by a discontinuous ditch up to 3m wide and 0.4m deep. A causeway or entrance feature, 2.5m wide, breaks the ditch at its eastern end, and the ditch further loses definition along its southern side. There is a large hollow or damage on the south eastern end that disrupts the overall integrity of the monument and is possibly also indicative of some past excavation.

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: 26568

Legacy System: RSM


Mackay, Rodney , (1995)
Various APs on SMR Record, Humberside SMR Records, (1994)

End of official listing