Pit alignment and three round barrows on Ugthorpe Moor, 500m north east of Wood Hill House


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Pit alignment and three round barrows on Ugthorpe Moor, 500m north east of Wood Hill House
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

North Yorkshire
Scarborough (District Authority)
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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.

A pit alignment is a linear arrangement of fairly closely spaced circular or rectangular holes or pits over 1m in diameter. Some examples are several kilometres long and some occur as part of a more complex linear earthwork including linear ditches, slots, palisades and linear banks. Once dug, the pits were left as open features which eroded and silted up over a period of time. Nearly all pit alignments have been discovered from aerial photography and survive as cropmarks or soil marks. They are largely found in river valleys in central and northern England but they are also common on the Yorkshire Wolds and are found in smaller numbers on other light freely draining soils. Pit alignments probably formed boundaries. Where excavated they usually appear to be prehistoric in date, although examples are also known from the Roman period. All examples surviving as earthworks are considered to merit protection. In the north east part of the North York Moors a distinctive type of pit alignment has been recognised and termed a segmented embanked pit alignment (SEPA). These survive as inconspicuous low earthworks which consist of two or three pairs of pits lying between parallel banks. In some cases several SEPAs are conjoined to give the appearance of a more extensive linear earthwork. The axis of the SEPAs is consistently orientated north west to south east and is often tangential to more prominent Bronze Age round barrows. None of the SEPAs have been excavated to modern standards but they are interpreted as ritual monuments which may have had some function as a boundary. The exact nature of the rituals concerned is not fully understood but their association with round barrows is taken to indicate a link with funerary activities. All known examples of SEPAs are considered to be of national importance because of their highly localised occurrence, distinctive form and survival as earthworks. The SEPA 500m north east of Wood Hill House is in an excellent state of preservation. The archaeological deposits survive intact and significant information about the original form of the monument and the rituals associated with its use will be preserved. Important environmental evidence will survive within the waterlogged pit fills and evidence for earlier land use will survive beneath the banks. The importance of the three barrows is enhanced by their association with the SEPA. Despite disturbance, evidence for the date and form of the barrows and the burials placed within them will be preserved and evidence for earlier land use will survive beneath the barrow mounds. The barrows were originally in a group of at least ten burial monuments, of which there are seven surviving. Such clusters provide important insight into the development of ritual and funerary practice during the Bronze Age.


The monument includes a pit alignment and three round barrows situated at the top of a south west facing slope towards the north edge of the North York Moors. The pit alignment is of the type known as a segmented embanked pit alignment. It has two pairs of well defined sub oval pits 3m-4m in diameter and up to 0.6m deep, which lie between parallel banks 16m apart. The banks are up to 3m wide and stand up to 0.8m high. They run for 20m in a south east to north west direction and the ends of each bank curve slightly inwards. To the south and north west of the pit alignment a number of small cairns have been identified from field survey work. The pit alignment is off centre from two round barrows, one 18m to the south east and the other 55m to the north west. The southern barrow has an earthen mound up to 20m in diameter and standing up to 1m high. The northern barrow has an earth and stone mound up to 9m in diameter and standing up to 0.6m high. In the centre of both mounds there is a hollow caused by excavations in the past. A third round barrow lies 10m to the south of the pit alignment. It has an earth and stone mound which measures 7m in diameter and stands up to 0.2m high. The pit alignment and barrows lie in an area where there are many other ritual and funerary monuments dating to the prehistoric period. All fence posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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Books and journals
Lofthouse, C A, 'Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society' in Segmented Embanked Pit Alignments in the North York Moors, , Vol. 59, (1993), 383-392


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.

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