Shaw Hill, Skircoat, Halifax, West Yorkshire

Tumulus (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SE 094 242

Archaeology & History

Shaw Hill urn

The remains here have long since succumbed to that self-righteous advance of industrial civilization.  Even when the Halifax historian John Watson (1775) first described what had been here, the burial mound had gone; but thankfully he was fortunate in getting details regarding the whereabouts and contents of the remains. Three burial urns were found next to each other —  presumably in the same tumulus —  one of which was in a reasonably good state of preservation, as shown from the illustration which I reproduce here.  We have no description of the burial mound, only of the urns, of which Mr Watson told us:

“It was found, with two others, at the gates, at the bottom of the walk near Shaw Hill, leading to the house in Skircoat, called Heath.  They lay in a line, one yard deep and one yard asunder, with their mouths downwards.  This contained calcined bones, and dust; the two others were broken in pieces.  It is eight inches deep, stands upon a bottom of four inches diameter and, where there is no moulding, is from twenty-one inches, or thereabouts, to twenty-three inches in circumference.”

It was of similar size and design to burial urns found at Tower Hill a couple of miles west of Halifax.  In Prof Watson’s (1952) work on the prehistoric sites of Calderdale, he assigned this burial mound and pottery to have been from the Bronze Age.


  1. Leyland, F.A., The History and Antiquities of the Parish of Halifax, by the Reverend John Watson, M.A., R.Leyland: Halifax n.d. (c.1867)
  2. Roth, H. Ling, The Yorkshire Coiners, 1767-1783; and Notes on Old and Prehistoric Halifax, F.King: Halifax 1906.
  3. Watson, John, The History and Antiquities of the Parish of Halifax, T. Lowndes: London 1775.
  4. Watson, Geoffrey G., Early Man in the Halifax District, HSS: Halifax 1952.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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