Pennythorn Hill, Baildon Moor, West Yorkshire

Tumulus (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SE 13922 40984

Archaeology & History

Pennythorn Hill urn
Site highlighted on 1909 OS-map
Site shown on 1909 OS-map

Highlighted on the 1909 OS-map of the area, on the top of the hill a short distance from the roadside, about 250 yards northwest of the Acrehowe Hill site (now at the edge of the golf course) could once  be seen another prehistoric burial mound.  The rediscovery of this tumulus was first announced briefly in the January 1905 edition of the Bradford Scientific Journal (issue no.3).  A few months later the local writer and historian William Preston (1905) wrote a more detailed article on the site, telling the following information:

“A discovery of considerable interest to local archaeologists was made early in December, 1904, on the summit of the spur of moorland on the northwest of Baildon Moor, known as Pennythorn Hill.

“A workman engaged in removing stones from an extension of the golf course, unearthed an ancient cinerary urn containing calcined human bones, a flake of flint which may have served the purpose of an arrow point, a bronze instrument, and a perforated piece of bone, unfortunately broken during calcination.  An examination of the site of the discovery revealed the remains of a tumulus, the upper part at some time removed, with a diameter as near as it was possible to tell, of about fifteen feet.  In point of construction it differed little from others which are to be found in the locality.  The vessel had been placed in an inverted position over the calcined bones, in a hole made in the sandy subsoil.  There was no indication of the urn having rested in a cist.

“The earth beneath the urn bore no evidences of fire, and it is likely that the funeral pyre on which the corpse was reduced to ashes was not erected on the spot.  It may be assumed from the association of the weapons named that the bones are those of a male person.

“The height of the urn is twelve and a half inches, it is eight and a quarter inches in diameter, and taper in the lowest third of its height to a base of about three inches in diameter.  In the course of its excavation it was broken by the workmen, but it has been excellently restored in the laboratory of the Hull Museum…

“The urn belongs to the early British type and its date is, probably, well before the Roman invasion of the island.  The general outline of the urn is very similar to that of some urns found by Canon Greenwell in the course of his exploration of the barrows of the north of England… The surface of the urn is divided into three zones.  The upper part of the vessel consists of a raised border, about four inches wide, decorated with horizontal and vertical lines alternately arranged, and produced by pressing a twisted thong up0n the clay of which it was composed… Beneath the border and upon the central part of the body, a different form of decoration has been carried out.  A zig-zag line scratched in the clay has been carried around the body, forming a number of triangular compartments, which were filled in with diagonal lines, giving he appearance of a herring-bone pattern.  The counterpart this design does not appear on any of the urns figured by Canon Greenwell in his records of digging in British barrows.”


  1. Greenwell, William, British Barrows, Clarendon Press: Oxford 1877.
  2. Preston, William E., “The Discovery of a Cinerary Urn on Baildon Moor,” in Bradford Scientific Journal, no.4, April 1905.
  3. Wardell, James, Historical Notes of Ilkley, Rombald’s Moor, Baildon Common, and other Matters of the British and Roman Periods, Joseph Dodgson: Leeds 1869. (2nd edition 1881)

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

(Visited 65 times, 1 visits today)

Written by 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *