Danes Hills square barrow cemetery on Crook Moor


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Danes Hills square barrow cemetery on Crook Moor
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 22-Nov-2019 at 22:50:11.


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

North Yorkshire
Selby (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SE 66599 39921

Reasons for Designation

Square barrows are funerary monuments of the Middle Iron Age, mostly dating from the period between c.500 BC and c.50 BC. The majority of these monuments are found between the River Humber and the southern slopes of the North Yorkshire Moors, but a wider distribution has also been identified, principally through aerial photography, spreading through the river valleys of the Midlands and south Essex. Around 200 square barrow cemeteries have been recorded; in addition, a further 250 sites consisting of single barrows or small groups of barrows have been identified. Square barrows were constructed as earthen mounds surrounded by a ditch and covering one or more bodies. Slight banks around the outer edge of the ditch have been noted in some examples. Despite the term `square', barrows can vary in shape. The majority are truly square, although many have rounded corners and some are more rectangular in plan. A few, however, occurring both in square barrow cemeteries and individually, are actually round in plan, but distinguishable from earlier Bronze Age round barrows by their smaller size. The main burial is normally central and carefully placed in a rectangular or oval grave pit, although burials placed on the ground surface below the mound are also known. A number of different types of burials have been identified, accompanied by grave goods which vary greatly in range and type. The most elaborate include the dismantled parts of a two-wheeled vehicle placed in the grave with the body of the deceased. Some Iron Age barrows have been associated with an unusual burial ritual of `spearing the corpse'. Ploughing and intensive land use since prehistoric times have eroded and levelled most square barrows and very few remain as upstanding monuments, although the ditches and the grave pits, with their contents, will survive beneath the ground surface. The different forms of burial and the variations in the type and range of artefacts placed in the graves provide important information on the beliefs, social organisation and material culture of these Iron Age communities and their development over time. All examples of square barrows which survive as upstanding earthworks, and a significant proportion of the remainder, are considered of national importance and worthy of protection.

The square barrow cemetery on Crook Moor is important as nationally it is one of the very few examples of this class of monument with upstanding earthwork remains. In addition along with the larger group on Skipwith Common, it is the most westerly known cemetery of the Arras Culture, an Iron Age grouping of people in eastern Yorkshire, who buried their dead under these distinctive square ditched barrows. Excavations of similar sites in the 1970s and 1980s have shown that cemeteries were typically very densely utilised, sometimes with barrows sharing boundary ditches with their neighbours. The larger raised areas are examples of such practices which, through centuries of weathering and build up of vegetation, have merged to form continuous mounds. The investigations in 1850 are thought to have been small scale and extensive archaeological remains will still survive of both the mounds themselves and of additional secondary burials, typically placed in the ditches, and flat graves, without covering mounds, placed between the barrows. The monument will contain important information about the mounds' construction and the local environment in the Iron Age.


The monument includes the buried and earthwork remains of a group of prehistoric burial mounds surviving to the north west of the junction between Bonby and Broad Lanes on Crook Moor. In 1850 the Yorkshire Antiquarian Club investigated a number of mounds, containing what was described as calcareous matter, which is now identified as cremated bone. The mounds were found to be surrounded by square ditches and were likened to a larger group of barrows 3km to the south west on Skipwith Common. Early editions of the Ordnance Survey mark a group of five mounds on Crook Moor. More recent maps only mark the best preserved example. This survives as a 10m diameter mound standing up to 0.6m high with evidence of a surrounding ditch. The rest of the barrows can be seen as breaks of slope at the edges of level areas standing up to 0.5m high, with the mounds of individual barrows merging into one another to form larger raised areas. The line of telegraph poles and all modern fencing that crosses the monument is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath 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.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Record Card, Yorkshire Archaeology Society, SE63NE 02,


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

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