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Danes Hills

Barrow / Cairn Cemetery

<b>Danes Hills</b>Posted by robokidImage © NR
Also known as:
  • Crooks Moor

Nearest Town:Selby (8km SSW)
OS Ref (GB):   SE665398 / Sheets: 105, 106
Latitude:53° 50' 59.52" N
Longitude:   0° 59' 20.47" W

Added by Rhiannon

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<b>Danes Hills</b>Posted by robokid <b>Danes Hills</b>Posted by robokid

Fieldnotes

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Aiming for SE667399 we immediately crossed off the dirt road, under some power lines and hopped over a ditch to it's right and into some pine woods. It is open access land so CROW applies. I had an idea we were getting near and saw a slightly raised mound. We headed towards it and it was riddled with burrows. At this point, Em suggested we bear right. This took us into a different section of woodland which was fenced off for paint-balling. We carried on exploring there then arched round to the left again.

We saw a mound at about the same time as our chests tightened and I felt loads of pressure against the sides of my neck. Where we turned off to the right previously had been the front of what seemed to be a long barrow, right on the edge of the pine plantation. Taking some bearings and comparing them with a map charting local ley-lines, we found the direction we'd gone off in was along one of the lines.

We looked around the woods some more in case we'd missed something but kept getting drawn back to the barrow. It was definitely the place, looking more regular that the surrounding terrain, but overgrown and with a definite foreboding feel. We decided we probably needed the advice of someone local.

Heading back towards the car, we stumbled across a small circular mound that we must have missed when entering the woods. It felt very calming but confused us as we were unsure how many there were meant to be. The current OS map record tumuli, whereas and older one shows a barrow as well, and positions on both are different.

We crossed back towards the dirt road and bumped into a gentleman who seemed to know some of the history of the area. He mentioned that Danes Hills was the name given as the Norsemen had camped in the vicinity. It was part of their route overland to Ricall, but had been in existence since the Iron Age. He also mentioned a few more on Skipworth Common nearby (these are shown on the older OS maps, but not the newer ones, although there are others that are nearby, which are shown on new maps but not older ones!). Coincidently our local gentleman didn't think we were lunatics when Em mentioned ley lines and dowsing as it seemed that he too was a dowser.

We headed for SE644377 and though we found slight raised ground, they didn't fit in with the map, and not all felt entirely man made.
A GPS would have been useful for accurately pinpointing the various mounds.
Posted by robokid
16th February 2008ce
Edited 8th August 2010ce

Folklore

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..on the north side of [Skipwith or Riccal] Common are many tumuli, known in the locality by the name of the Danes' Hills. That the peasantry of the surrounding district know the mournful origin of these "soldiers' sepulchres" is clear, from the fact of their readily telling you that "they say" pieces of red cloth have been foud in the neighbourhood of the tombs.

Tradition says also that at the time those graves were made, a swampy drain or bog, now called Riccal Towdyke, was choked up with slain. That tradition has evidently descended from the same source that the chroniclers obtained their information from, viz. the surviving spectators.
A Dr Burton opened some of the barrows and found, apparently, the bones of some young men with 'very firm and fresh' teeth(!), one with his head cut off and between his knees. "Ever since the aforesaid battle, it is by tradition to this day said, that the Danes were permitted to encamp here till they had buried their dead, and their ships at Riccal should be ready for their re-embarking for Norway."

From p218 of August 1863's edition of the Gentleman's Magazine and Historical Review. Online at Google Books.

According to the record on Magic, these are actually Iron Age barrows, called Square Barrows.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
12th May 2007ce
Edited 12th May 2007ce

Miscellaneous

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This is one of two sites close to Skipwith known as Danes Hills. The other is just over a mile and a half away to the southwest. Both are Iron Age square barrow cemeteries. Chris Collyer Posted by Chris Collyer
5th August 2008ce