Square barrow on Scawton Moor, adjacent to the quarry between Snip Gill Slack and Sword Rigg Slack


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019337

Date first listed: 24-May-1951

Date of most recent amendment: 10-Oct-2000


Ordnance survey map of Square barrow on Scawton Moor, adjacent to the quarry between Snip Gill Slack and Sword Rigg Slack
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Ryedale (District Authority)

Parish: Old Byland and Scawton


National Grid Reference: SE 57073 82332


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

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.

Although the square barrow on Scawton Moor no longer retains upstanding earthwork remains, it is still considered to retain buried deposits. The plough soil will also retain material from the original covering mound. It also lies outside the main concentration of such barrows which are located in the Yorkshire Wolds.


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


The monument includes the buried remains of a prehistoric burial mound located on Scawton Moor immediately south east of a small stone quarry on the high ground between Snip Gill Slack and Sword Rigg Slack. Sited on gently sloping ground it overlooks the confluence of Nettle Dale and Rye Dale to the north. The monument is spatially associated with a group of round barrows scattered for 3.5km along the north side of the watershed to the south of Rye Dale. These barrows are typically thought to be Bronze Age. However, the barrow forming the monument is considered to be later in date because of the find of a ceramic bead in the plough soil in 1952. This decorated bead, which was given to the Yorkshire Museum, is Iron Age in style and is thought to have come from the barrow. In addition, a 1982 aerial photograph shows a right angled crop mark in the location of the monument which is interpreted as part of the ditch around a square barrow, a characteristic Iron Age form of burial mound. In 1947 the barrow was obscured by a crop of oats and has been regularly ploughed, spreading the barrow so that no upstanding mound can now be identified. However, excavation of other similar sites has shown that archaeological remains can survive undisturbed under the plough soil. The primary burial of a square barrow was normally placed in a rectangular or oval pit cut into the original ground surface, sometimes dug into the bedrock, before the construction of the covering mound.

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: 32684

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
McDonnell, J, A History of Helmsley Rievaulx and District, (1963), 381
Print held by NYMNP, RCHME, NMR Spool Film 1678 Neg 49, (1979)

End of official listing