Reasons for Designation
A burnt mound is an accumulation of burnt (fire-crazed) stones, ash and
charcoal, usually sited next to a river or lake. On excavation, some form of
trough or basin capable of holding water is normally found in close
association with the mound. The size of the mound can vary considerably; small
examples may be under 0.5m high and less than 10m in diameter, larger examples
may exceed 3m in height and be 35m in diameter. The shape of the mound ranges
from circular to crescentic. The associated trough or basin may be found
within the body of the mound or, more usually, immediately adjacent to it. At
sites which are crescentic in shape the trough is normally found within the
`arms' of the crescent and the mound has the appearance of having developed
The main phase of use of burnt mounds spans the Early, Middle and Late Bronze
Age, a period of around 1000 years. The function of the mounds has been a
matter of some debate, but it appears that cooking, using heated stones to
boil water in a trough or tank, is the most likely use. Some excavated sites
have revealed several phases of construction, indicating that individual sites
were used more than once.
Burnt mounds are found widely scattered throughout the British Isles, with
around 100 examples identified in England. As a rare monument type which
provides an insight into life in the Bronze Age, all well-preserved examples
will normally be identified as nationally important.
These two burnt mounds south of Blackmea Crag Sike, 590m south west of Castle
House survive well and form an important part of the wider prehistoric
landscape of Upper Teesdale which includes burnt mounds, cairnfields, burial
cairns, settlements, enclosures and field systems.
The monument includes two burnt mounds at a bend in Blackmea Crag Sike, east
of Holwick Fell, Upper Teesdale. The burnt mounds are close together on the
south side of the sike, one each side of a short length of modern drystone
The burnt mounds closely resemble each other; they are both 8m long, between
5m and 6m wide and about 0.6m high. Both are grass covered and crescent-
shaped, each with the eastern arm of the crescent considerably broader than
the western. On both mounds the broad arm of the crescent has a well defined
hollow, about 2m in diameter. The more easterly of the two burnt mounds
differs slightly in that it has an additional small grass covered mound of
burnt stone about 3m east of the crescent.
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.