I have visited the Howe several times over the years and would suggest spring before the crops take over as the best time to get a real sense of its scale. There is a lot of flint in the adjoining field including evidence of tool working (just look under foot if its dry enough).
There is much more to the complex of the Gypsey Race than meets the eye, namely Duggleby Howe one of the largest neolithic barrows ever found in Britain. It is the Howe that really marks the start of the ceremonial centre of the Gypsey Race for its true source is only a short distance away in a thicket on the outskirts of the tiny village of Wharram Le Street which in turn lies next to the ancient and abandoned village of Wharram Percy.
Duggleby Howe can easily be seen on approach from the village of Duggleby. It stands dominant on the brow of a hill overlooking the village. Alas its true majesty was disguised slightly by the wheat that was growing around us. My friend Andy had been suffering from hayfever quite badly all day and during the walk through the field his sinuses were giving him some serious problems. I'm sure the joy of reaching the top of the Howe was worth it despite his agony. I consoled myself afterwards with the thought that the tears streaming down his face were those of joy rather than the results of the pollen bombarding his senses.
In a big, wide rolling, landscape pockmarked with earthworks and tumuli, Duggleby Howe stands proud and tall despite being a shadow of its former self. Now only 20 feet high, rather than 30, and without its surrounding ditch and bank of which I could see no trace, this massive tump really dominates this little valley. We followed the edges of the field to reach it, as there is no path.
I liked it enormously and had there not been a biting cold northerly wind, I'd have liked to sit and considered its position in the landscape a little longer. Like you do at Silbury, for example.
The Howe sits over the village, it is big and dominating and doesn't care who knows it. I don't get any nice vibes here. We hang around for just long enough to take the place in and then move on.
This is not Willy Howe, I hear no music here.
We visited this site on the first warm day of Spring, and were surprised how atmospheric this site was. It stands out brilliantly on the approach to the village. From it's summit you can appreciate how well positioned it is in the centre of a low valley, and can't help but wonder how much more impressive it would seem if it was still surrounded by its massive bank. The finds from the 19th C Victorian excavation (which took a whole 10 feet off it's summit) can be seen in the excellent museum in High Street, Hull. The displays on prehistoric East Yorkshire here are well worth a visit, especially for the Roos Carr figures ( now complete with the wooden penises that the Victorian curator removed for fear of offending the public).
Duggleby Howe contained many burials. Ronald Hutton (in 'Pagan Religions..') suggests that many of them were sacrifices, there to glorify the burials of just a few important old men. Patriarchy here we come then.
I thought you might like details of his description: it kind of gives a different view of the place. Still mysterious, but not quite as peaceful as Silbury, perhaps. It's no wonder Fitzcoraldo didn't get any nice vibes! ;)
In the centre of the mound of packed chalk there was a wooden mortuary hut, and in it a man buried with some flints, a pot, and some red pigment. The mound was built up round this, and as they filled in the shaft above the hut, they included the skull of a youth (with a suspicious looking hole in it). At the top was the skeleton of a child of about three, and to the side the grave of a man of about fifty, buried with arrowheads, knives, ox bones, beavers' teeth, a bone pin and boar tusks. In the infill of his grave were the bodies of another young child and another youth.
A man of about 70 was placed beside the original shaft, with his head laid as if looking down into its packing. In one hand he had a piece of semitransparent flint, holding it up to his face.
At some time later a man of about 60 was also interred, with again the bodies of a youth and a child above him. He was buried with an axe, an arrowhead and a macehead.
Four piles of mixed bones were found around the graves - bones of oxen, roe deer, foxes, pigs, sheep/goats and humans. Soon after a layer of chalk was piled over everything - over 50 cremations have been found in this layer. A layer of blue clay and more chalk rubble completed the monument. Duggleby Howe probably contains an impressive 5000 tons of material.
"Domesday Book has Difgelibi 'Dufgalls Place', according to Morris a norse name from Old Irish Dubhgall meaning 'black foreigner' and used in Ireland of Norwegian raiders who terrified coast dwellers".
Dalesman Publishing 2001