The Modern Antiquarian. Ancient Sites, Stone Circles, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic Mysteries

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Walton Green Cursus

The south west end of the site is at SO26195978 and north east end is at SO26826001.

The monument is 95% in Wales and was identified from cropmarks. It's 660m long by 30m wide with squared ends and rounded corners.

Hindwell Cursus

Possible cursus with the south west end at SO24496052 and the north east end at SO24926074.

Shows on a combination of aerial photographs and as a combination of cropmark features. The site is 474m long and 54m wide with no definite terminals.

Hasting Hill Cursus

From the SMR:

"The monument includes a cursus, causewayed enclosure and round barrows which have been identified through aerial photography, lying 600m south of Hastings Hill Farm. No upstanding earthwork remains of these survive but the evidence of aerial photography and limited excavation has confirmed that significant remains survive beneath the present ground surface. Sections of the ditches of both the cursus and causewayed enclosure were excavated by the Department of Archaeology, University of Durham in 1980. The cursus is orientated north-south. At its northern terminus the cursus is 47m wide and is defined by a 1m wide, asymmetrical 'V' shaped ditch, which was 0.4m deep. The southern terminus has not been identified, but the cursus is at least 400m long. The causewayed enclosure lies 10m north west of the northern terminus of the cursus. It is an irregular oval, 92m by 65m, with its long axis orientated north-west, south-east defined by a 1m-2.2m wide ditch, which is 0.2m-0.3m deep. It has entrances in the north west and south east perimeter of the enclosure. One of the round barrows, which is 9m in diameter, is on the eastern perimeter of the enclosure. The other round barrow ditches are located just east of the cursus, 400m south of the causewayed enclosure. One of these has been measured at 20m-22m diameter. The cursus, causewayed enclosure and round barrows are interpreted as being of Neolithic date"

Barford Sheds Cursus

FromWarwickshire SMR.

At Barford Sheds, a long, narrow rectangular enclosure is visible as a cropmark on aerial photographs. This might be a cursus monument. barrows, in which people buried the dead during the Neolithic period, are uncommon in Warwickshire.

Drayton St Leonard (Cursus)

Drayton St Leonard Cursus is 390m long and 40m wide. In sits on an alluvial gravel bed. Several ring ditches can be seen (from the air) around it and unusually one within it.

Nosterfield Mixed Period Barrow Cemetary (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery)

In addition to the burials mentioned above, two disarticulated burials were found, the bones being carefully placed after being de-fleshed. No interpretation of these is currently available but this kind of burial practice is more akin to the Neolithic Period than the Bronze Age which they have been currently assumed to be.

Binsoe Artificial Mound

At Binsoe is a large artificial mound, known locally as a conical hill and listed on the SMR as a barrow.

Interestingly, the line of a potential Roman Road reported by Fisher in the 1800's may cut through Binsoe. Fisher claimed that this road then travelled to Thornborough.

Pickhill Moated Mound (Artificial Mound)

I am now much happier that Pickhill was an area of importance during the Late Neolithic period. It is likely that the Thornborough cursus was built along a trade route between the Ure and Swale, and that Pickhill may represent the Swale terminus of this route. A string of Axe finds between Pickhill and the ure running parallel with the line of the cursus seems to back up this suggestion.

I would expect there to have been a permanant settlement in the viscinity of Pickhill.

Dorchester Neolithic Complex (Henge)

In the 1970's this site was totally destroyed by gravel quarrying. These operations are continuing to this day and are continuing to remove important archaeology over a widespread area.

This henge was one of only eight henges in Britain known as type 2A - two entrances and two sets of banks.

It's similarity to the Thornborough henges is striking - very similar size, form and entrances on the same alignment. Another similarity is that Peterborough Ware pottery was found.

The quarry company that destroyed this henge knew it was there - it was excavated in the 1950's, yet they totally destroyed it.

Today you cannot even walk over this sacred site - it is a lake.

Given the similar activities of quarry companies at Thornborough, one could be forgiven for thinking there was a deliberate attempt to remove these henges from the record books.

Ure-Swale Plateau

Ritual Landscapes

The Later Neolithic and early Bronze Age is known (to EH at least) as the period of ritual landscapes. This is because it was during these times that Henges and other "ritual" landscape features were being created for the first time, their apparent lack of practical use, and relationship to burial grounds, typically represented by barrows.

At Thornborough there is a convincing argument for a ritual landscape. Between Borroughbridge and Thornborough there are six identical yet unique henge monuments, these all share the same size (260m dia.) and type (henge with two entrances and ditches on the inside and the outside of the bank). Four of the henges sit on an alignment with the Devils Arrows, at Boroughbridge, the other two forming a second alignment with the same.

Archaeological evidence shows that the henges had at least two distinct phases of construction, which resulted in their current shape. Firstly, approx. 2,200BC a classic type II henge was canstructed (two entrances, one outer bank, one inner bank), then the outer bank was reduced and a new bank created inside the original ditch, with a new ditch being constructed within this, thus forming their current shape.

The uniformity of construction, coupled with the alignments that they sit on, and other factors identified by archaeology strongly suggest that they were a part of a prolonged and co-ordinated "architecting" of the overall landscape.

It is probably the term "ritual" which is the most unfortunate (although I can't think of a better term) since it brings up all sorts of religious connotations which somewhat cloud the waters.

A good example of the case for ritual however, also comes from Thornborough, where a large number of polished stone axes from Langdale in Cumbria have been found. These were mainly in an "as new" condition, and seemingly were deposited in what would have been a boggy area slightly to the north of the complex (the current quarry). The evidence of them being unused and apparently deposited yet presumably of having some value (they travelled here from Cumbria, and were extremely well made) is suggestive of a deliberate and ritualistic deposition. Combining these two factors and one can see how this period could easily construed as that of ritual landscapes.

But the term ritual does not simply mean religious, look at football - it is possibly the largest example of ritual behaviour in Britain, many would say verging on a religion for some, it has resulted in the creation of thousands of large amphitheatres, and no doubt has resulted in the creation of many personal and group rituals, some may include the destruction of prized objects, yet it does not form part of our "religion" as such.

So, ritual deposits - an offering to the gods? or did the "axe team" lose the championship?

Bellflask Stone Row (Stone Row / Alignment)

Possibly one of the most significant discoveries in the area of recent times. The area of BellFlask has been sites by many as being of possible significance, it's name possibly being a derivative of Bel or Baal. Furthermore, the 1929 OS map shows an alignment of nine stones. The estate map of the same period shows 11 stones - an additional two on the southern side of the river. It is likely that this entire alignment os now destroyed by recent quarrying.

Westwood Bowl Barrow (Round Barrow(s))

SMR Entry for Westwood:

MONUMENT: Bowl barrow on Westwood Common, 610m north west of Blackmill
PARISH: BEVERLEY
DISTRICT: EAST RIDING OF YORKSHIRE
COUNTY: EAST RIDING OF YORKSHIRE
NATIONAL MONUMENT NO: 26558
NATIONAL GRID REFERENCE(S): TA01843954
DESCRIPTION OF THE MONUMENT
The monument includes a bowl barrow on the northward side of Westwood Common,
Beverley, 120m to the south of the A1079 York - Beverley Road and 610m north
west of Blackmill. It is one of an important group of prehistoric funerary
earthworks surviving together on Westwood Common, which represents a sizeable
area of land in which prehistoric earthworks have survived because of the
establishment of common grazing rights here in the 14th century AD.
The barrow survives as a visible mound 7m in diameter and up to 0.75m in
height. It is surrounded by a ditch up to 2m wide, which although infilled
through the course of time and now no longer visible at the ground level, will
survive as a buried feature.
There is no indication that this barrow has been excavated in the past, and it
is therefore thought to survive with its burial contents intact.
ASSESSMENT OF IMPORTANCE
Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, 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 bowl
barrows recorded nationally (many more have already been destroyed), occurring
across most of lowland Britain. 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 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 monument is one of a closely associated group of prehistoric earthworks on
Westwood Common, which includes both square and round barrows, as well as
Romano-British enclosures, linear boundary dykes and a short section of Roman
road. The group has survived as part of a rare landscape characterised by
features dating back as far as the Bronze Age, which has owed its survival to
the granting of common grazing rights to the local people of Beverley in the
14th century AD. The survival of such an extensive area of earthworks is
unusual in this region of East Yorkshire, where arable agricultural practices
have resulted in the destruction of many earthwork remains of monuments above
ground. It offers important insights into ancient land use and territorial
divisions for social, ritual and agricultural purposes in this area and the
development of these through time.
As the monument has not been excavated, it will still contain primary and
secondary burials, and further archaeological information relating to its
construction.
SCHEDULING HISTORY
Monument included in the Schedule on 21st June 1978 as part of:
COUNTY/NUMBER: Humberside 5
NAME: Burial mounds and enclosure on Westwood Common
The reference of this monument is now:
NATIONAL MONUMENT NUMBER: 26558
NAME: Bowl barrow on Westwood Common, 610m north west of Blackmill
SCHEDULING REVISED ON 19th January 1996

Nine Stones Close & Robin Hood's Stride

"The Nine Stone Close stone circle with Robin Hood’s Stride in the background. It is probably not a coincidence that this small stone circle was situated near the impressive natural outcrop of Robin Hood’s Stryde, on Harthill Moor, itself probably regarded as a sacred place in prehistory. The crag forms an impressive backdrop to ceremonies that would have taken place at the ring. Arounf midsummer the moon is low in the sky and would have passed between the two natural pillars. The circle today has four tall stones but originally there were eight or nine, the missing ones removed in the last two hundred and fifty years." Peak District - John Barnatt and Ken Smith.

Barbrook II (Stone Circle)

"The Barbrook II Stone Circle. This small stone circle is one of two that lie within a large cairnfield on Ramsley Moor, which is part of the Big Moor complexlying to the east of Bar Brook. It was extensively excavated in the 1960’s and restored in 1989. The circle is now probably much as it was around 2000BC The irregular ring of standing stones is set in a drystone wall retaining the inner edge of a rubble bank, with an entrance to the north east. Only one standing stone is significantly higher than the bank,. This lies a little south of west and has no obvious astronomical explanation. Although a variety of rituals and ceremonies probably took place at the circle, it is those connected with death that not surprisingly have left traces in the ground. Four human cremations were deposited in the south western half of the interior, two in simple pits, one in a pit under a small cairn, and one in a small burial box known as a cist. " Peak District - John Barnatt and Ken Smith.

Gardom's Enclosure

"There is a large enclosure on Gardom’s Edge above Baslow. This has recently been recognised as being Neolithic in date, possibly built between 3500 and 3000BC. It is a rare upland equivalent to the causewayed enclosures found in the lowlands or southern England. The Gardoms Edge enclosure has a massive bank built of boulders, in its collapsed and robbed state 5-9m wide and 1-1.5m high, with entrances spaced along it. It defines the eastern side of a large area at the crest of the ridge, the western side being a precipitous scarp overlooking the Derwent Valley. The interior is largely boulder strewn and unsuitable for settlement, although there are a few places where buildings have been erected." PEak District - John Barnatt and Ken Smith

Mill Rigg Settlement (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

"At Mill Riggs, Kentmere, Westmoreland, the settlement occupies a small terrace flanked by a cliff on the east, and is oval in form, measuring 240ft north and south, 160ft across its wider end at the north, and 140 feet at the south, where it narrows. The walls seem to have been 7 to 10 feet thick, but they are now chiefly to be traced by their foundations. It is suggested that they were not of solid construction, but were faced with stone and filled up inside with softer stone." Remains of the Prehistoric Age in England Bertram Windle 1909.

High Hugill Settlement (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

"At High Hugill, near Windermere, in Westmoreland, the site of the settlement consists of an enclosure, two sides of which are angular and two rounded. It was encompassed by the foundations of a wall or rampart, which has been, in places, 14ft in width. The foundations were apparently formed by stones set on edge, the spaces in between which was probably filled in with smaller stones. Within this enclosure are sundry ill-defined lines of division walls, courts, and hut-dwellings, one or two of which are circular, and measure about 7ft and 13ft in diameter." Remains of the Prehistoric Age in England, Bertram Windle 1909.

Gib Hill (Artificial Mound)

"Gib Hill, adjacent to Arbour Low. The original focus for ceremonial activity at Arbour Low, high on a ridgetop south of Monyash, was not at the large henge monument, but here at this mound. Carefull examination of this mounds profile shows that it is a long barrow with a large circular mound superimposed at the south western end. The round barrow is Bronze Age in date, one of two built at this time overlying the main ceremonial monuments of the complex. This one contained a burial in a stone cist, placed at the surface of the original mound, which fell through the roof of Bateman’s tunnel when he dug here in the middle of the nineteenth century. In the earlier mound underneath, probably built several centuries before the henge, early nineteenth century excavations appear to have found cremated human bone in layers. " Peak District, John Barnatt and Ken Smith.

Long Low (Bank Barrow)

"A phenomenon in the Peak District, of which there are at least three examples, is the practice of superimposing round barrows at one end of long barrows. Another very unusual site, probably Later Neolithic, is Long Low near Wetton. This comprises of an exceptional mound, 210m (689ft) long and 12-28m (40-92ft) wide. At the wider eastern end there is a possible horned forecourt and a collapsed burial chamber" EH, Peak District - John Barnatt and Ken Smith.

Minninglow (Burial Chamber)

"One large chambered cairn, at Minninglow on a high hilltop between Parwich and Elton, started life as a small mound with a chamber. It was later enveloped in a long cairn with at least four chambers entered from the sides. Later still it was enlarged again, to make it into a massive near-circular mound. There are four or five such “great barrows” in the region, each about 40m (131ft) across, which were probably the local equivalents of later Neolithic mounds such as Silbury Hill and Duggelby Howe (Yorks Wolds)."EH - Peak District John Barnatt and Ken Smith.
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