Golden Heights round cairn and wayside cross on Rudland Rigg


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019517

Date first listed: 07-Mar-1968

Date of most recent amendment: 24-Nov-2000


Ordnance survey map of Golden Heights round cairn and wayside cross on Rudland Rigg
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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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: Farndale West


National Grid Reference: SE 64724 96300


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

Reasons for Designation

Round cairns are prehistoric funerary monuments dating to the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). They were constructed as stone mounds covering single or multiple burials. These burials may be placed within the mound in stone-lined compartments called cists. In some cases the cairn was surrounded by a ditch. Often occupying prominent locations, cairns are a major visual element in the modern landscape. They are a relatively common feature of the uplands and are the stone equivalent of the earthen round barrows of the lowlands. Their considerable variation in form and longevity as a monument type provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.

Excavation of round cairns in the region have 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 round cairns were normally used for more than one burial and that the primary burial was frequently on or below the original ground surface, often with secondary burials located within the body of the mound. Most also 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. In the Bronze Age, many round cairns are thought to have acted as territorial markers in addition to their role as burial sites. Golden Heights round cairn, placed on the spine of Rudland Rigg is considered to be one such example. This function continued into the medieval period, marking a road across the moor, being reused to support a wayside cross. Such crosses are one of several types of Christian cross erected during the medieval period, typically acting as way markers in otherwise unmarked terrain for routes for parishioners from outlying settlements, for funeral processions, long distance pilgrimage routes or merely the path linking ordinary settlements. Over 350 wayside crosses are known nationally, concentrated in the South West in Cornwall and on Dartmoor, with a small group found on the North Yorkshire Moors. Wayside crosses contribute significantly to our understanding of medieval religious customs, and to our knowledge of medieval route ways and settlement patterns. Golden Heights round cairn is a well preserved example of a small prominently placed cairn. Its medieval re-use for a wayside cross adds to its importance.


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


The monument includes the earthwork and associated buried remains of a prehistoric burial mound on top of Golden Heights, a high point on Rudland Rigg. Set into its top there is a socket stone for a wayside cross. The cairn is sited on the eastern side of the narrow plateau that forms Rudland Rigg at this point, and overlooks the prehistoric earthworks on Horn Ridge to the east with Farndale beyond. It is intervisible with both Obtrusch round cairn 2.3km to the south east and the southern two round barrows known as Three Howes 2.4km to the north west, all of which form part of the skyline and are the subject of separate schedulings. Golden Heights round cairn is also intervisible with the site of Dicken Howe 1.2km to the NNW. The cairn survives as a regular 7m diameter mound standing 0.6m high. Excavation of other examples of round cairns in the region have shown that even where no encircling depression is discernible on the modern ground surface, ditches immediately around the outside of the mound frequently survive as infilled features, containing additional archaeological deposits. A margin to allow for such an infilled ditch up to 2m wide around the cairn is thus also included within the monument. Set into the top of the cairn there is a dressed stone 0.6m by 0.6m by 0.25m thick, with its top flush with the surface of the cairn. Through the thickness of the centre of the stone there is a socket 0.21m by 0.18m. The cairn is centred 25m east of Westside Road, an unmetalled trackway which runs up the ridge of Rudland Rigg. This was one of the main routes over the moors in the medieval period and ran from the north to Kirkbymoorside on the south. The socket stone is thought to have been for a medieval wayside cross marking the route.

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: 32696

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Hayes, R H, Old Roads and Pannierways in North East Yorkshire, (1988), 47

End of official listing