Oval barrow on Elm Ledge, 900m north of Clither Beck Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018751

Date first listed: 05-Jan-1971

Date of most recent amendment: 02-Dec-1998


Ordnance survey map of Oval barrow on Elm Ledge, 900m north of Clither Beck Farm
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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: Danby


National Grid Reference: NZ 71503 10900


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

Reasons for Designation

Oval barrows are funerary and ceremonial monuments of the Early to Middle Neolithic periods, with the majority of dated monuments belonging to the later part of the range. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds of roughly elliptical plan, usually delimited by quarry ditches. These ditches can vary from paired "banana-shaped" ditches flanking the mound to "U-shaped" or unbroken oval ditches nearly or wholly encircling it. Along with the long barrows, oval barrows represent the burial places of Britain's early farming communities and, as such, are amongst the oldest field monuments surviving visibly in the present landscape. Where investigated, oval barrows have produced two distinct types of burial rite: communal burials of groups of individuals, including adults and children, laid directly on the ground surface before the barrow was built; and burials of one or two adults interred in a grave pit centrally placed beneath the barrow mound. Certain sites provide evidence for several phases of funerary monument preceding the barrow and, consequently, it is probable that they may have acted as important ritual sites for local communities over a considerable period of time. Similarly, as the filling of the ditches around oval barrows often contains deliberately placed deposits of pottery, flintwork and bone, periodic ceremonial activity may have taken place at the barrow subsequent to its construction. Oval barrows are very rare nationally, with less than 50 recorded examples in England. As one of the few types of Neolithic structure to survive as earthworks, and due to their rarity, their considerable age and their longevity as a monument type, all oval barrows are considered to be nationally important.

The vast majority of barrows on the North Yorkshire Moors are round barrows, typically of later, Bronze Age, date and are normally sited in prominent positions on skylines or ridges. The oval barrow on Elm Ledge is thus of particular importance when compared to other barrows in the area. It is a well preserved example, showing little sign of disturbance.


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


The monument includes the buried and earthwork remains of a prehistoric burial mound on the western part of the ridge of moorland known as Elm Ledge. The oval barrow is sited on gently sloping ground which slopes down from a ridge 180m to the south to a stream known as Sandy Slack 300m to the north. It is not in a visually prominent location, but it does overlook the head of the stream which lies 200m to the north west and is sited to provide a good view down the valley to the north east. The mound's longest axis is 20m and orientated approximately north east to south west, slightly across the line of the slope, which slopes down to the NNE. It is oval in shape with a maximum width of 10m, standing up to 1.5m high. On either side of the long axis of the barrow there is a 10m wide level area with some indications of an infilled ditch. On the south eastern side this is cut into the rising ground surface, on the north western it is built up to form a slight terrace.

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: 30188

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing