Southern pair of four round barrows known as Three Howes, 765m north east of Toad Hole


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019975

Date first listed: 29-Oct-1968

Date of most recent amendment: 05-Jan-2001


Ordnance survey map of Southern pair of four round barrows known as Three Howes, 765m north east of Toad Hole
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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: Bransdale


National Grid Reference: SE 63215 98186


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.

The majority of round barrows in the region were dug into by 19th century antiquarians in search of burials and artifacts, leaving behind a central depression as evidence of their work. However excavations in the latter half of the 20th century have shown that round barrows typically contain archaeological information that survives earlier digging. Secondary burials tend to be located within the main body of the mound and sometimes one of these was mistaken for the primary burial which was usual the goal of the antiquarian. Even when the primary burial has been excavated, further secondary burials often survive in the undisturbed surrounding part of the mound and infilled ditch. Additional valuable information about the mound's construction and the local environment at the time of its construction will also survive antiquarian excavation. The southern pair of four round barrows known as Three Howes, 765m north east of Toad Hole are relatively well-preserved and will retain important information about Bronze Age society. They also form prominent landscape features.


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


The monument includes the earthwork and associated buried remains of a closely spaced pair of prehistoric burial mounds. Two more round barrows, the subject of separate schedulings, lie 100m and 180m to the NNW respectively. This group of four round barrows are sited on the western, highest side of the plateau forming the highest part of Rudland Rigg. They are known collectively as Three Howes, as three out of the four barrows are very prominent, forming part of the skyline from a wide surrounding area. The pair of round barrows that form the monument are both sited on level ground, just east of the break of slope down into Bransdale. They are both intervisible with Golden Heights round barrow 2.4km to the south east. The south eastern of the pair is the largest of the group. It survives as a steep sided mound up to 2.4m high which is slightly oval in plan, 21m north-south and 18m east-west. It appears to be mainly earthen in construction with some stone showing on the surface up to 0.3m across, along with small quantities of pebble sized stones. There is a 6m diameter hollow over its centre, the deepest part of which is a 2m diameter area in the south eastern quadrant that extends down to 1.2m below the top of the surviving mound. The second round barrow of the pair is centred 45m to the north west. This is a 15m diameter, 1.8m high mound that has had a 2.5m wide east-west trench cut through the middle. In the centre of the mound this trench is water filled and approximately 1m below the highest surviving part of the mound. There is evidence that the barrow has an outer kerbing of stones, most obviously on the south side. Around the north eastern outer edge of the barrow there is also a berm 1m-1.5m wide and 0.1m high standing above the ground surface beyond. The area between the two barrows is included within the monument because excavation has shown that such areas frequently retain associated features such as additional contemporary and later human burials without covering mounds. Also excavation of other examples of round barrows 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 3m wide around each barrow is thus also included within the monument. Just to the south of the north western barrow, and included in the scheduling, there is a conical pit some 1.8m deep and 6m diameter at the top which is surrounded by a horseshoe shape of spoil which is open to the south. This is interpreted as a mining test pit for coal, another example of which lies just over 100m to the south west with at least three more examples within 300m to the north west.

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: 32697

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
McDonnell, J, A History of Helmsley Rievaulx and District, (1963), 379

End of official listing