Simon Howe: a round cairn on Goathland Moor, two associated round barrows, a standing stone and a stone alignment


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


© Crown Copyright and database right 2021. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2021. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1021297.pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 28-Feb-2021 at 20:05:49.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

North Yorkshire
Scarborough (District Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
SE 83039 98157

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.

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 or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often acted as a focus for 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 of 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.

Standing stones are prehistoric ritual or ceremonial monuments with dates ranging from the Late Neolithic to the end of the Bronze Age for the few excavated examples. They comprise single or paired upright orthostatic slabs, ranging from under 1m to over 6m high where still erect. They are often conspicuously sited and close to other contemporary monument classes. They can be accompanied by various features: many occur in or on the edges of round barrows, and where excavated, associated sub surface features have included stone cists, stone settings, and various pits and hollows filled in with earth containing human bone, cremations, charcoal, flints and pottery. Similar deposits have been found in excavated sockets for standing stones, which range considerably in depth. Standing stones may have functioned as markers for routeways, territories, graves or meeting points, but their accompanying features show that they also had a ritual function and that they form one of several ritual monument classes of their period which often contain deposits of cremation and domestic debris as an integral part. No national survey of standing stones has been undertaken, and estimates range from 50 to 250 extant examples, widely distributed throughout England but with concentrations in Cornwall, the North York Moors, Cumbria, Derbyshire and the Cotswolds. Standing stones are important as nationally rare monuments, with a high longevity and demonstrating the diversity of ritual practices in the Late Neolithic and Bronze Age.

Stone alignments or stone rows consist of upright stones set in a single line, or in two or more parallel lines, up to several hundred metres in length. They are often sited close to prehistoric burial monuments, such as small cairns and cists, and to ritual monuments, such as stone circles, and are therefore considered to have had an important ceremonial function. Stone alignments were being constructed and used from the Late Neolithic period to the Middle Bronze Age (c.2500-1000 BC) and provide rare evidence of ceremonial and ritual practices during these periods. Due to their rarity and longevity as a monument type, all examples that are not extensively damaged will be considered worthy of protection.

Simon Howe and the associated features within this monument are in a good state of preservation, despite disturbance to the round cairn from excavation in the past and modern erosion. The round cairn and barrows will preserve significant information about their date and original form and the burials placed within them. Unlike many barrows in the area, the two round barrows do not appear to have been excavated previously and they will, therefore, have undisturbed archaeological deposits in the centre relating to the primary burials, which are less likely to survive in the part-excavated examples. Evidence for earlier land use and the contemporary environment will also survive beneath the mounds. The sockets within which the standing stone and the stones of the alignment are set will preserve evidence for the nature and date of the rituals associated with their use.

The stone alignment is one of only a few which have been identified on the North York Moors and the Simon Howe monument in which it lies is an important and diverse group of features which adds significantly to our knowledge of prehistoric ritual and funerary practice. The relationships between the different components of the group will provide important evidence for the sequence of development of the monument and insight into the nature of prehistoric belief. The wider area around the upstanding features, from which the flint collections were made, is considered to have a high potential for the survival of further buried remains. These will provide additional information on the nature and duration of prehistoric occupation at this site, which is known to have begun at least 6000 years ago. This evidence is important because it provides a link between the upstanding features and the earlier periods of occupation and it will contribute greatly to our understanding of the processes through which prominent places in the landscape were endowed with a particular significance which endured over a long time period.


The monument includes a round cairn, known as Simon Howe, which occupies a prominent ridge-top position on Simon Howe Rigg. Also included are two round barrows and a stone alignment, which are adjacent to Simon Howe and associated with it, and the site of extensive flint scatters which surrounds the earthworks. The monument lies on an isolated ridge of Upper Jurassic sandstone which is surrounded by Middle Jurassic sandstone and is situated on the North York Moors.

Simon Howe has a low sub-circular mound constructed from stone, which measures 17m-19m in diameter and stands up to 0.6m high. A kerb of stones projects from the surface of the mound 3m-4m from its edge. These are flat slabs of sandstone set into a circle with an internal diameter of 10m-11m. The slabs are 0.3m-1m wide and 0.2m-0.3m thick. They lean outwards and stand up to 0.6m high above the surface of the mound. Some of the stones have become buried over the years, or taken away, especially on the western side of the cairn, but fifteen are still in position and another two lie fallen next to their original positions. Within the circle in the centre of the mound there is a depression which has been left by partial excavation in the past. There is a large modern walkers' cairn partly filling the depression and a further modern dry-stone structure in a crescent-shape against the inner face of the kerb on the south east side of the mound. The cairn has become eroded by the footpaths which cross it, including the route of the Lyke Wake Walk.

The two round barrows lie 80m to the NNE and 140m to the north east respectively from Simon Howe. Both barrows have low earthen mounds. The western mound measures 13m in diameter and stands up to 0.5m high. It has an irregular surface. The eastern mound measures 15m in diameter and stands 0.6m-0.8m high. The standing stone is located close to the south western edge of the eastern barrow. It is oriented north west-south east, measures 0.7m by 0.1m in section and stands 0.7m high.

The stone alignment lies to the north east of Simon Howe. It is visible as four sandstone boulders which are regularly spaced 8m apart in a row; the last stone at the southern end is 22m from the centre of Simon Howe. The alignment runs approximately NNE-SSW, in a direction tangential to the north western edge of Simon Howe and almost pointing towards the western round barrow. The stones measure 0.2m-0.8m by 0.2m-0.4m in section. Two of them, at the southern end of the row, are still upright, although one leans slightly to the south east, but one of the others has almost fallen and the other is completely recumbent. The earthfast stones are 0.9m-1.3m high; the recumbent stone is 2.2m long, but formerly would have stood to a similar height above the ground surface. Originally there was a fifth stone in the line, between the surviving stones and Simon Howe, but this has been removed. The socket in which this stone formerly had been set was identified on the ground surface in 1947 after a severe moorland fire.

In the years between the 1947 moorland fire and the 1960s more than 2500 pieces of flint were collected from the exposed ground surface around Simon Howe and towards the top of the north west facing slope to the immediate north. These included finely-made tools such as arrowheads and knives as well as the debris from tool manufacture, and they date from the late Mesolithic period to the Bronze Age. The flints are evidence for the repeated occupation of the site over a period of 5000 years or more, reflecting the importance of the location within the landscape. This evidence indicates that there are further buried remains within the area from which the flints were recovered.

The monument is surrounded by many other prehistoric monuments, including the remains of settlement and agriculture as well as further burials, which are often located in prominent and highly visible locations in the landscape.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Bradley, R, The Significance of Monuments, (1998), 132-146
Hayes, R H, North-East Yorkshire Studies: Archaeological Papers, (1988), 16-19
Hayes, R H, North-East Yorkshire Studies: Archaeological Papers, (1988), 15-19
Hind, D, Goathland Moor Monument Survey, (1996)
7779.01 and 7779.02,
Pacitto, A L, AM107, (1985)
Pacitto, A L, AM107, (1989)


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].