Three round barrows and six cup and ring marked rocks, 740m south east of Howdale Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019682

Date first listed: 15-Nov-1934

Date of most recent amendment: 09-Apr-2001


Ordnance survey map of Three round barrows and six cup and ring marked rocks, 740m south east of Howdale 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: LCPs of Fylingdales and Hawsker-cum-Stainsacre


National Grid Reference: NZ 95861 01514


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

Reasons for Designation

Round barrows 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 mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often acted as a focus of 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 examples recorded nationally (many more have already been destroyed), occurring across most of Britain, including the Wessex area where it is often possible to classify them more closely, for example as bowl or bell barrows. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape and their considerable variation in 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.

Prehistoric rock art is found on natural rock outcrops in many areas of upland Britain. It is especially common in the north of England in Northumberland, Durham and North and West Yorkshire. The most common form of decoration is the `cup and ring' marking where expanses of small cup-like hollows are pecked into the surface of the rock. These cups may be surrounded by one or more `rings'. Single pecked lines extending from the cup through the `rings' may also exist, providing the design with a `tail'. Pecked lines or grooves can also exist in isolation from cup and ring decoration. Other shapes and patterns also occur, but are less frequent. Carvings may occur singly, in small groups, or may cover extensive areas of rock surface. They date to the Late Neolithic and Bronze Age periods (c.2800-500 BC) and provide one of our most important insights into prehistoric `art'. The exact meaning of the designs remains unknown, but they may be interpreted as sacred or religious symbols. Frequently they are found close to contemporary burial monuments and the symbols are also found on portable stones placed directly next to burials or incorporated in burial mounds. Around 800 examples of prehistoric rock-art have been recorded in England. This is unlikely to be a realistic reflection of the number carved in prehistory. Many will have been overgrown or destroyed in activities such as quarrying. All positively identified prehistoric rock art sites exhibiting a significant group of designs will normally be identified as nationally important. These barrows have survived well, so significant information about the original form of the barrows and the burials placed within them will be preserved. Evidence of earlier land use will also survive beneath the barrow mounds. The cup and ring marked rocks survive well. Such monuments are rare in the North York Moors and these examples are part of an unusually significant concentration of similar carved rocks on Howdale Moor. Taken with the surrounding rock art and other prehistoric sites, the monument offers important scope for understanding the changing patterns of ritual and social activities in the area during the prehistoric period.


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The monument includes two adjacent round barrows, a third separate barrow, six cup and ring marked rocks and the ground in between these features in which unmarked burials and other archaeological remains will survive. It is located on level ground between two streams in the middle of Howdale Moor. This is the easternmost extent of the sandstone, heather covered moor characteristic of the North York Moors. Today the moor is little used but archaeological evidence indicates that this has not always been the case. The prehistoric period in particular saw extensive agricultural use of the area. It was also then being used for burials and activities associated with the carving of patterns on exposed rock. Remains of these activities survive today. The monument extends over an area approximately 100m north west-south east by 60m south west-north east. The two northern barrows lie 10m apart. Each barrow has a circular earth and stone mound. The western mound measures 5m in diameter and is 0.75m high. The eastern mound measures 4m in diameter and is 0.5m high. The third barrow lies 40m to the south east. This has an earth and stone mound measuring 6m in diameter and is 0.4m high. Each of the three mounds was surrounded by a ditch up to 3m wide which has been filled in and is no longer visible as an earthwork. Five of the cup and ring marked rocks are clustered just to the north of the two western barrows and the sixth 4m to the south of the central barrow. The designs are carved and pecked into earthfast rocks and include cup marks, spirals and channels with various patterns and complexity. The simplest pattern is a single small rock with a single cup mark. The most sophisticated design is carved into a large boulder measuring 1.5m by 1.5m by 1.0m high. On the surface of this there are five cup marks, four with encircling rings and comb patterns. One other stone has 25 cup marks on a surface measuring 1.3m by 1.1m. The barrows and the carved rocks are thought to be broadly contemporary although their relationship is not currently fully understood. There is a similar cluster of carved rocks located in a prominent position 700m to the south east which are the subject of separate schedulings.

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: 34380

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Bradley, R, Rock Art and the Prehistory of Atlantic Europe, (1997)
Smith, M J B, Excavated Bronze Age Burial Mounds of Durham and N' land., (1994), 1-38
Chappell, Cup and ring carvings-survey record sheets, (1997)
Chappell, Cup and ring carvings-survey record sheets, (1997)
Chappell, Cup and ring carvings-survey record sheets, (1997)
Chappell, Cup and ring carvings-survey record sheets, (1997)
Chappell, Cup and ring carvings-survey record sheets, (1997)
Chappell, Cup and ring carvings-survey record sheets, (1997)

End of official listing