Cairn: OS Grid Reference – NZ 74954 19429
Also Known as:
- Rockcliff Beacon
Archaeology & History
Occupying a prominent position above the ever-closer North Sea, upon which an old beacon was subsequently placed, this denuded prehistoric tomb was first surveyed by the Ordnance Survey lads in 1913, and subsequently in an essay by Messers Hornsby & Laverick (1920) on the ancient sites of Boulby, east of Easington. This was the first one they explored, calling it ‘Mound No.1.” They located it,
“due south of the ‘Soldier’s Garth’ in the east corner of the field called The Falls. It was a cairn with a diameter of 50ft. Two-and-a-half feet northwest of the centre peg, at a depth of 21 inches below the present surface, there was an unaccompanied burnt burial, which occupied a space of 15in by 18in. In a centre cut 7ft 6in by 6ft, at a depth of 3ft 6in, we found much burnt bone and many potsherds of the Bronze Age type, scattered over the whole space of the trench, down to a further depth of 3ft 10½in. In the south corner there were four stones set on edge and running in a direct (straight) line. The interment had been placed upon the clay, the soil of the original surface having been cleaned off. With this burial we found a good flint made from a polished celt and worn smooth at the point—possibly through having been used for striking fire on iron pyrites—many chips and several cupstones.”
The “several” cup-marked stones they describe at the end seem to have been lost; perhaps sleeping in some museum cellar somewhere (does anyone know?).
This cairn was one in a complex of eight that Frank Elgee (1930) suggested may have been laid out deliberately in the form of the constellation of Ursa Major, or The Plough, also known as ‘Charles Wain’.
- Brown, Paul & Chappell, Graeme, Prehistoric Rock Art in the North York Moors, Tempus: Stroud 2005.
- Crawford, G.M., Bronze Age Burial Mounds in Cleveland, Cleveland County Council 1990.
- Elgee, Frank, Early Man in North-East Yorkshire, John Bellows: Gloucester 1930.
- Hornsby, William & Laverick, John D., “British Barrows round Boulby,” in Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, volume 25, 1920.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian