Long Barrows are fairly scarce on the northern North York Moors, this is round barrow country. Newton Mulgrave and the surrounding moors are rich in prehistoric monuments, the dales running down from the moors to the coast are fertile and well drained, ideal for early farmers. A number of the barrows, including the Long Barrow are placed at points where they can be seen from the dale below, the ancestors looking down from the place where the land meets the sky.
In the past, the moor was a rich hunting ground for early antiquarians, especially, Samuel Anderson of Whitby. Anderson excavated many of the barrows on the moor and built up a large collection of prehistoric pottery. He eventually sold his collection to finance a new business manufacturing jet ornaments. Much of his collection was sold to Joseph Mayer of Liverpool for £150. He also gave or sold some of the pottery to the Mappin Art Gallery in Sheffield.
Anderson’s pots in were displayed in the Liverpool Museum as part of the Mayer Collection, the museum and many of the displayed pots, were destroyed during a German bombing raid in May 1941.
The Long Barrow is recognisable but has suffered historic damage, that said, it’s well worth a visit. The walk takes you across a lovely grassy moor with views to the coast and a moorland skyline dotted with mounds. Below is a description of the barrow taken from the English Heritage Record of Scheduled Monuments.
The monument includes a long barrow situated in a prominent position at the top of a north east and north west facing slope on the edge of the North York Moors. The barrow has an earth and stone mound which is ovoid in shape, with its long axis oriented ESE to WNW. The mound measures 36m in length and is 13m wide at the west end and 20m wide at the east end. It stands up to 2.6m high at the east end, with the top sloping down towards the west. On the top of the mound and on the north side there are a number of small hollows caused by the robbing of stone from the fabric of the mound. Originally the mound would have been narrower and trapezoidal in shape with flanking quarry ditches up to 3m wide along its north and south edges. However, over the years erosion and stone robbing have resulted in a more rounded shape and soil has slipped from the mound, increasing its width and burying the quarry ditches which are no longer visible as earthworks. There would also have been a forecourt area up to 10m wide in front of the east end of the mound where rituals connected with the use of the barrow would have taken place. There is nothing of this visible now, but archaeological remains will survive as subsoil features. The long barrow lies in an area rich in prehistoric remains, including further burial monuments.
Fly-tipped rubbish, polythene animal feed bags, scrap iron and fencing roll.
This is on the open moor a few meters from the Long Barrow, and a good walk from any road. The moor is a managed moor, the fences are in good order, the grouse butts are well maintained yet this is tolerated. Sometimes, there seems to be two rules in the countryside, one for the visitors and another for the landowners and farmers.
A 19th century antiquary: the excavations of Samuel Anderson by Terry Manby in Moorland Monuments CBA Research Report 101 1995
Swart, adj. Black Looking
Houe, n. A hill of considerable size. A tumulus.
Near Swarthoue on Dunsley High Moor, which was no doubt, a Druid’s station, are several ancient stone-pillars, only about three feet high. Two of them stand one hundred west from this houe, and west from one another; a small houe also stands a few yards west from them. At a distance of one hundred and ten yards north by east of these, two more similar pillars, stand at nearly the same distance from, and also in the same direction from, each other. These four old erect stones forming a long square, may possibly be only parts of other figures, such as triangles or circles, or a long avenue. In setting these, reference seems to have be made to the cardinal points, and perhaps, also to that conspicuous tumulus, Swarthoue, with which they form a nearly right angled triangle. The circular margin of that houe was set round with low curb-stones. It is about twenty yards round at the base, and from ten to twelve feet high.
Descriptions, Geological, Topographical and Antiquarian in Eastern Yorkshire
Robert Knox. 1855
Samuel Anderson excavated the barrow in 1852. On the outlying stones he notes –
There has been a line of large stones pointing from one barrow to the other, only two of which remain to remind the Antiquary that the ‘Modern Goths’ have been pilfering Antiquity of its relics…I may mention that there are many markings on the two stones between the barrows numbered 1 and 2 but whether the work of man or time cannot now be determined altho’ some of the marks correspond with these on a stone found in the barrow which has evidently been done by the parties forming it.
Minutes of opening Ancient British Tumuli in the neighbourhood of Whitby
Samuel anderson 1852-1853
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Old Men that would be loath to have their credyt crackt by a tale of a stale date, report confidently that sixty yeares since, or perhaps 80 or more, a sea-man was taken by the fishers of that place, where duringe many weeks they kepte in an oulde House, giving him rawe fishe to eate, for all other fare he refused; insteade of voyce he shreaked, and shewed himself courteous to such as flocked farre and neare to visit him; – fayre maydes were wellcomest guests to his harbour, whome he woulde beholde with a very earneste countenaynce, as if his phlegmaticke breathe had been touched with a sparke of love. – One day, when the good demeanour of this new gueste had made his hosts secure of his abode with them, he prively stoale out of doores, and ere he coulde be overtaken recovered the Sea, whereinto he plounged himself; – yet as one that woulde not unmannerly depart without taking his leave, from the mydle upwardes he raysed his shoulders often above the waves, and making signs of acknowledgeing his good entertainment to such as beheld him on the shore, as they interpreted yt; – after a pretty while he dived downe and appeared no more.
Rev. John Graves quoting William Camden
The History of Cleveland. 1808