|Timing is everything with the North York Moors. In the summer, sites can be chest deep in Bracken, in the winter knee deep in snow or surrounded by great bogs. Greenland Howe is one such site. The last time I was up on this moor it was extremely foggy and as the Howe is off the track I decided to check out so of the more accessible barrows in the area. Yesterday everything seemed just right, the snow had more or less melted away on my local hills and it was a cold, crisp morning. When I crossed the Esk Valley and drove up the Blue Bank from Sleights I was a little surprised to see the moor still covered in a layer of fairly deep snow. One thing I forgot to take into account was that Sleights Moor is nearly 300 metres above sea level and extremely exposed on all sides.
I accessed the moor from the A169, there is a bridle path onto the moor just opposite the Grosmont turn off. The path is fairly straight forward until just past the low scary power lines, when the path splits in two. You should take neither branch and head out across the open moor in a roughly easterly direction using the distant beacon on the top of Brow Moor as your guide. The barrow is situated on the edge of the moor on a ridge overlooking farmland and the lovely Littlebeck Valley.
The barrow itself is pretty wrecked, the mound has gone and just a few of the kerb stones remain, what should draw you too this monument is the absolutely beautiful and intact cist. Stanhope White described it as the finest example of a cist on the North York Moors, I don't think he was far wrong. The cist itself is approximately six feet by two feet and about three feet deep, which is a good size for any British cist. There is also a possible outlying stone roughly north north east of the barrow.
The views from the barrow are beautiful, to the North you can see along the valley to the coast and Whitby to the east is the Biller Howe and Brow Moor, to the west is the higher ground of Sleights Moor with it's chain of barrows silhouetted on the horizon and to the south is the ridge formed by the igneous intrusion, the Cleveland Dyke.
If you look to the south you can just make out the stone on the Flass Brow mound, using my handy Ray Seton "Astronomical Signficance Indicator", a wonderful field tool, I discovered that, when viewed from the barrow, the Flass Brow mound was in line with the winter solstice sunset.
Greenland Howe is well worth a visit especially if you combine it with a visit to some of the other prehistoric monuments in the area. This area is extremely rich in prehistoric sites, from rock art to cross ridge dykes, barrows, cairn fields and standing stones. There seems to be a roughly east-west progression of monuments across the landscape following the River Esk from the coast with addition of chains of monuments running along the north-south ridges following the tributaries to the River Esk.
Posted by fitzcoraldo
3rd March 2006ce
Edited 3rd March 2006ce