Square barrow on Coomb Hill, 420m west of Coomb Slack Farm
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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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:
- NORTH YORK MOORS
- National Grid Reference:
- SE 95440 89428
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
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
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 the 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. Despite limited disturbance, the barrow 420m west of Coomb Slack Farm survives well. Significant information about the original form of the barrow, the burials placed beneath it and any rituals associated with its construction and use will be preserved. Evidence for earlier land use and the contemporary environment will also survive beneath the barrow mound and within the lower ditch fills. The barrow is part of a group of seven round and square barrows, six of which survive, and this kind of association provides valuable insight into the relationship between the two types of barrow.
The monument includes a square barrow situated on level ground at the northern
scarp edge of the Tabular Hills.
The barrow has a well defined flat topped earth and stone mound which stands
up to 1m high. It is sub-rectangular in plan, measuring 10m by 9m, with the
longest side orientated ENE to WSW. In the centre of the mound there is a
hollow caused by part excavation in the past. The mound is surrounded by a
ditch which measures up to 1.5m across and is up to 0.4m deep.
The barrow lies within a dense concentration of prehistoric burial monuments,
in an area which also includes the remains of prehistoric settlement and land
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 5 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:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Lee, G E, Wykeham Archaeological Survey, (1991)
Mytum, H, 'Moorland Monuments' in Iron Age square barrows on the North York Moors, , Vol. 101, (1995), 31-37
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