Cow Keepers Field, Boulby, Easington, North Yorkshire

Tumulus (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NZ 75400 19220

Also Known as:

  1. Boulby Barns

Archaeology & History

This prehistoric tomb was one in a cluster of tumuli in the Boulby district, uncovered by the northern antiquarians, William Hornsby and John Laverick in 1918.   Most of them have subsequently been destroyed – this one included.  When they visited the site, they described it as “a barrow…with a diameter of 36 feet.”  Once they began digging into it,

“at the centre we found a cist, the top of which was 2ft 7in below the present surface. The cist lay north 64° west, and south 64° east.  It had no cover and the slab at the north-west end was wanting.  The cist measured: side 3ft 6in, end 3ft 2in.  Its depth was 2ft 2in.  In it we found nothing except sandstone chips.  With these there was no admixture of soil. Above the cist and covering a space of 5 ft by 5 ft there was a layer of burnt earth and black ashes (of furze bushes).  At a distance of 5 ft south of the centre, and 1ft 10in below the present surface, there was a burnt burial, 20in in diameter.  With this we found many flint chips, a shale pendant, and the peculiarly marked stone” we’ve called, simply the Cow Keeper’s Field 2 carving.

A second cup-marked stone was also found inside the tomb, a few feet south of the cist. When G.M. Crawford went to survey the burial mound in the late 1970s, he reported “there is no trace of it” and “has probably been destroyed by ploughing.”


  1. Brown, Paul & Chappell, Graeme, Prehistoric Rock Art in the North York Moors, Tempus: Stroud 2005.
  2. Crawford, G.M., Bronze Age Burial Mounds in Cleveland, Cleveland County Council 1990.
  3. Elgee, Frank, Early Man in North-East Yorkshire, John Bellows: Gloucester 1930.
  4. Hornsby, William & Laverick, John D., “British Barrows round Boulby,” in Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, volume 25, 1920.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian 

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