Enclosed cremation cemetery at Willot Head, 510m south west of Loft Howe


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017032

Date first listed: 14-Dec-1999


Ordnance survey map of Enclosed cremation cemetery at Willot Head, 510m south west of Loft Howe
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Scarborough (District Authority)

Parish: Wykeham


National Grid Reference: SE 94506 87901


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

Reasons for Designation

An enclosed cremation cemetery is a burial place comprising one or more deposits of burnt human remains interred within a roughly circular or oval enclosure bounded by a bank and outer ditch. Present evidence suggests that enclosed cremation cemeteries were essentially burial places and ceremonial foci of Late Neolithic date which may well represent the antecedents of the more widespread ring cairn tradition of the Early and Middle Bronze Age. As a monument class, enclosed cremation cemeteries have only relatively recently been defined and only a very few examples have been identified so far, all of them in the southern part of the country. This is unlikely to be an accurate reflection of the original number present. As a rare monument type, all positively identified enclosed cremation cemeteries are considered to be of national importance. A ring cairn is a prehistoric ritual monument comprising a circular bank of stones surrounding a hollow central area. The bank may be kerbed on the inside, and sometimes on the outside as well, with small uprights or laid boulders. Ring cairns are found mainly in upland areas of England and are interpreted as ritual monuments of Early and Middle Bronze Age date. The exact nature of the rituals concerned is not fully understood, but excavation has revealed pits, some containing burials and others containing charcoal and pottery, taken to indicate feasting activities associated with the burial rituals. Ring cairns occasionally lie within round barrow cemeteries and in northern England they are often associated with cairnfields. On the North York Moors a number of prehistoric ritual monuments have been identified as enclosed cremation cemeteries. They have characteristics in common with both the Late Neolithic enclosed cremation cemeteries found further south and Bronze Age ring cairns. None of the identified examples have been subjected to modern investigation but it seems likely that they represent either the earthen counterparts of ring cairns or a chronological stage in their development. As such, they will contain important information to aid our understanding of the development and complexity of funerary and ritual practice during the Late Neolithic and Bronze Age periods. The Tabular Hills in the Wykeham Forest area contain a dense concentration of prehistoric monuments, dating from the Neolithic to the Iron Age, which includes field systems, enclosures and land boundaries as well as ritual and funerary monuments. The spatial and chronological relationships between the different monuments in this area are of considerable importance for understanding the development of later prehistoric society in eastern Yorkshire. Despite disturbance the enclosed cremation cemetery at Willot Head survives well. Significant information about the date and form of construction will be preserved. Important evidence for the nature and duration of the rituals involved in its use will survive in the interior of the enclosure. Evidence for earlier land use and the contemporary environment will be preserved beneath the bank and within the lower ditch fills.


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


The monument includes an enclosed cremation cemetery situated on level ground towards the northern scarp edge of the Tabular Hills. The cemetery has a circular enclosure bounded by an earth and stone bank up to 2m wide and standing up to 0.4m high. The interior of the circle has a maximum diameter of 13m. Originally the bank would have had an internal kerb of stones to define the area within the enclosed circle, but over the years most of these have been taken away or disturbed by forestry ploughing so that now only two are visible on the eastern side. The enclosing bank is surrounded by an outer ditch which is up to 1.5m wide and 0.4m deep. On the south side of the enclosed cremation cemetery there is a deep hollow way running east to west which has truncated the outer ditch. Shallow forestry furrows run across the monument in both east to west and north to south directions. The cremation cemetery lies within a dense concentration of prehistoric burial monuments, in an area which also includes the remains of prehistoric settlement and land division.

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: 33513

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Lee, G E, Wykeham Archaeological Survey, (1991)

End of official listing