Two round cairns, one known as Obtrusch, 800m south west of Kneysbeck


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020376

Date first listed: 22-Oct-1973

Date of most recent amendment: 24-Nov-2000


Ordnance survey map of Two round cairns, one known as Obtrusch, 800m south west of Kneysbeck
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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 66143 94416


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.

The majority of round cairns and other burial mounds in the region were dug into by 19th century antiquarians in search of burials and artifacts. Obtrusch round cairn is one of the few such examples for which the identity of the principal excavator is known and where we have any form of contemporary documentation. Excavations in the latter half of the 20th century have shown that round cairns typically contain archaeological information that survives earlier digging. Secondary burials often remain in the undisturbed surrounding part of the mound and infilled ditch and additional valuable information about the local environment at the time of the cairn's construction can also survive. At Obtrusch, the two rings of exposed kerb stones and the central cist are all interesting features, demonstrating the internal structure of a good example of a round cairn. The earthwork survival of a second smaller cairn to the south east adds to the importance of the monument.


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


The monument includes standing and associated buried remains of a prehistoric burial mound known as Obtrusch round cairn, along with the earthworks of a smaller cairn centred 16m to the south east. These two cairns are sited on Rudland Rigg, overlooking Farndale to the east. They lie just to the north east of a large area of abandoned coal workings which are the subject of a separate scheduling. Obtrusch round cairn was originally known as Hobthrush Rook, Old Norse for Hobgoblin's Heap, and was excavated in 1836 by J Philips and J Gray. Philips published a description in 1855 together with a stylised illustration. He noted that the cairn was a large conical heap of sandstone, several feet high and that it had been disturbed previously. Beneath the heap was a large circle of 25 broader and larger stones set on edge around another circle of 25 or 26 smaller edge set stones. At the centre there was an east-west orientated rectangular cist, a box shaped grave outlined by four flagstones. However this grave was found to be empty except for a feather. The cairn was also described by F Elgee in 1930 by which time a drystone grouse butt had been constructed over the north western part of the cairn. The cairn is sited on the edge of the plateau forming Rudland Rigg, with the ground surface dropping off to the north. It forms a skyline feature when viewed from both Horn Ridge to the north and from much of Rudland Rigg that extends to the north west. It is intervisible with Golden Heights and Horn Nab round cairns and with the site of Dicken Howe, all of which lie to the north. Obtrusch round cairn survives as a 15m diameter cairn up to 1.3m high on the north side and 0.8m high on the uphill south side. The outer circle of stones described by Philips can be seen to form an outer kerbing to the cairn. A central 6m diameter area has been excavated to about 0.2m above the original ground surface to reveal the inner circle of stones. This contains a 3m diameter area excavated to about 0.5m below the surrounding ground surface, which has uncovered the central cist. The largest slab in the cist measures some 1.5m by 0.2m by over 0.3m. Spoil from the excavation appears to have been used for the construction of the grouse butt, which is now a ruined structure 4.5m by 3.5m, with the remainder piled up around the cairn's margin. The outer kerb beneath the grouse butt is distinctive in form with two pairs of upright stones, each standing around 1m high and ranging between 0.25m and 0.5m wide, flanking a recumbent slab 0.6m high and 1m long. This arrangement, which has similarities to false portals incorporated into some chambered cairns in Scotland, faces north west. All of the other kerb stones around the cairn are orientated with their longest axis horizontal. Centred 16m to the south east of Obtrusch round cairn is a second smaller cairn. This is 6m in diameter and up to 0.4m high. It also shows evidence of disturbance by excavation, but was not noted by Philips or Elgee. 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 infilled ditches up to 2m wide around the two cairns are thus also included within the monument.

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: 32695

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Elgee, F, Early Man in NE Yorkshire, (1930), 70-71
Phillips, J, The Rivers, Mountains and Sea Coast of Yorkshire, (1855), 210-212
Smith, M J B, Excavated Bronze Age Burial Mounds of Durham and N' land., (1994), 112

End of official listing