Bronze Age enclosed urnfield and two adjacent round barrows on the summit of Siss Cross Hill


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018781

Date first listed: 24-Jun-1971

Date of most recent amendment: 04-Feb-1999


Ordnance survey map of Bronze Age enclosed urnfield and two adjacent round barrows on the summit of Siss Cross Hill
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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 69996 11058


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

Reasons for Designation

Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often acted as a focus for burials in later periods. Often superficially similar, although differing widely in size, they exhibit regional variations in form and a diversity of burial practices. There are over 10,000 surviving bowl barrows recorded nationally (many more have already been destroyed), occurring across most of lowland Britain. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape and their considerable variation of form and longevity as a monument type provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisations amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.

The oval enclosure on the summit of Siss Cross Hill is considered to be an enclosed Bronze Age urnfield. These are burial grounds in which cremations, usually placed in cinerary urns, were interred within an enclosure up to 30m across. The enclosures were formed by either a bank, a ditch or a bank within a stone circle, normally, but not always with an entrance or causeway to provide access. Sometimes the enclosure also contains a standing stone or central mound. Excavated examples are known to date to the Middle Bronze Age between the 16th and 11th centuries BC. They are largely found in the north of England, mainly in Yorkshire, Cumbria and Northumberland, extending into Scotland. They are a rare form of Bronze Age burial monument, with fewer than 50 identified examples, and provide an important insight into beliefs and social organisation during this period. All positively identified examples are considered to be nationally important. Excavation of round barrows in the region has shown that they demonstrate a very wide range of burial rites from simple scatters of cremated material to coffin inhumations and cremations contained in urns, typically dating to the Bronze Age. A common factor is that barrows were normally used for more than one burial and that the primary burial was frequently located on or below the original ground surface, often with secondary burials within the body of the mound. Most barrows include a small number of grave goods. These are often small pottery food vessels, but stone, bone, jet and bronze items have also occasionally been found. Despite limited disturbance, the enclosure is in a good state of preservation. 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 also survive beneath the banks and within the buried ditch. This monument is one of only four or five similar embanked oval enclosures on the North York Moors which are interpreted as a regionally distinct form of urnfield. They share characteristics in common with funerary and ritual monuments of both Late Neolithic and Bronze Age date and as such will contain important information to aid our understanding of the development and complexity of funerary and ritual practice during these periods. With its flanking barrows the enclosure is part of an important group of Bronze Age funerary monuments.


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


The monument includes the buried and earthwork remains of an oval enclosure identified as a Bronze Age enclosed urnfield, flanked by a pair of prehistoric burial mounds. The two barrows lie in line with the long axis of the enclosure, and form part of a longer north east to south west alignment of barrows on the hilltop. These barrows, which are the subjects of separate schedulings, lie 165m to the south west, and 140m to the north east of the centre of the enclosure. The barrows on Siss Cross Hill are also aligned with a large and prominent barrow 770m to the north east on Gerrick Moor, part of Robin Hood's Butts. The enclosure is formed by a very regular and unbroken bank and external ditch. The bank is typically 0.8m high and 3m wide, with the ditch up to 2m wide and 0.3m deep. The whole enclosure measures 38m by 20m externally, and 30m by 10m internally. To the north east and north west of the enclosure, both centred just under 50m from its centre, are two round barrows. The north eastern barrow is 17m in diameter and stands up to 0.6m high with a 6m diameter central depression which is considered to have been the result of antiquarian excavation. The barrow to the south west is smaller, only 8m in diameter and 0.2m high, but has no central depression and appears to be relatively well-preserved. The two barrows have no visible traces of surrounding ditches, although excavation of other barrows has shown that even where no encircling depression is discernible on the modern ground surface, ditches immediately around the outside of barrows frequently survive as infilled features containing additional archaeological deposits.

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: 30195

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Smith, M J B, Excavated Bronze Age Burial Mounds of Durham and N' land., (1994)
record card, Ordnance Survey, 30 NE 14,

End of official listing