Four square barrows in Wykeham Forest, 660m south of Mount Misery


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


Ordnance survey map of Four square barrows in Wykeham Forest, 660m south of Mount Misery
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

North Yorkshire
Scarborough (District Authority)
Hutton Buscel
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
SE 94869 88858

Reasons for Designation

Square barrows are funerary monuments of the Middle Iron Age, most examples dating from the period between c.500 BC and c.50 BC. The majority of these monuments are found in the area 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, which may be square or rectangular, 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. 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 burial 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. 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 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 both round and square barrows. The very large number of burial monuments includes particularly rare examples of square barrows surviving as upstanding earthworks, and these will preserve a range of evidence within and upon the flat topped mounds which does not survive on plough flattened examples elsewhere. These square barrows form an important group of this monument type which will provide valuable insight into cultural development during the Iron Age. The spatial and chronological relationships between the round and square barrows in the Wykeham Forest area, and between both types of barrow and other prehistoric monuments, are of considerable importance for understanding the development of later prehistoric society in eastern Yorkshire. Unlike many barrows in this area the northern barrow of the group 660m south of Mount Misery has not been excavated and survives in a good state of preservation. Despite disturbance, the other three barrows have also survived well. Significant information about the date and original form of all four barrows, the burials placed beneath them and any rituals associated with their construction and use will be preserved. Flat graves will survive in the intervening areas and evidence for the chronological relationship between the barrows will be preserved. Evidence for earlier land use and the contemporary environment will also survive beneath the barrow mounds and within the lower ditch fills.


The monument includes a square barrow and a cluster of three immediately adjacent square barrows situated on level ground towards the northern scarp edge of the Tabular Hills. The individual barrow has a well-defined, flat-topped earthen mound standing up to 1m high. It is almost square in plan, orientated approximately north to south and has sides measuring 7m. In the centre of the mound there is a small hole which is the result of the removal of an Ordnance Survey triangulation pillar. The mound was originally surrounded by a ditch which survives up to 2m wide and 0.3m deep on the south and east sides of the mound. On the west side the ditch is no longer visible, having become filled in over the years by soil slipping from the mound, and on the north side it has become buried beneath a forestry track. The north edge of the mound has been slightly truncated during the construction of the same track. The three adjacent barrows lie in a tight cluster 30m to the ESE. At the west side of the cluster there are two barrows orientated approximately north to south in line with each other. Both barrows have earthen mounds which are almost square in plan with sides measuring 4m. The northern barrow has a flat-topped mound standing up to 0.4m, high while the southern barrow mound is more irregular, standing between 0.3m and 0.5m high. Both mounds were originally surrounded by a ditch. These survive up to 1m wide and 0.3m deep on the north and south sides of the mounds with a 1m gap between the two ditches, although they have been disturbed by forestry ploughing on the remaining two sides. The third barrow in the cluster lies 6m to the east of the others. Originally it would have had a mound and surrounding ditch of similar dimensions to the other two barrows. However, its mound has been disturbed by forestry ploughing and the ditch has become filled in over the years so that now the barrow is visible only as an irregular hump measuring up to 3m across. Forestry furrows run in a north to south direction over the top of all three mounds. The monument lies close to other clusters of square barrows within a dense concentration of prehistoric burial monuments, in an area which also includes the remains of prehistoric settlement and land division. The surfaced forestry track which passes the north edge of the northern mound in an east to west direction is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it 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:
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Books and journals
Lee, G E, Wykeham Archaeological Survey, (1991)
Lee, G E, Wykeham Archaeological Survey, (1991)
Title: Ordnance Survey 25" 2nd Edition sheet 77/13 Source Date: 1928 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:


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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