Cairn: OS Grid Reference – NZ 85510 04614
Also Known as:
- Flat Howe (south)
Along the A169 road that runs may miles from Whitby to Pickering, as you go through the small town of Sleights, the road gets steep for a mile or so, until you reach the moorland tops, where the road runs dead straight. After 1.2 miles (1.93km) along the straight road, a small minor road is to your right. Go along here for literally half-a-mile (0.8km) where you’ll see a small dirt-track on your right, with a locked gate. There’s room to park here. Walk straight onto the moor towards the large rounded mound about 200 yards northeast. That’s it!
Archaeology & History
Highlighted as a blip on the 1853 OS-map (see above) 250 yards south of Flat Howe (1), this is the slightly smaller of the two prehistoric cairns on this flat piece of moorland (which covered in scattered woodland at the time of its construction). It has been severely robbed of stones by some land-owning fuckwits in the 19th century, who saw fit to build a shooting hut into the tomb itself! Knob-heads! As a result, much of the content of the cairn has been severely depleted, with only its western side having any real height to it.
Just like Flat Howe 1, it seems that it’s never been excavated, so we can only guess about how old it is; though it is very probably Bronze Age. The cairn is roughly 25 yards across and oval in form, but was probably more circular before those morons built their hunting lodge into it. Its western side stands some 4-5 feet tall, which was probably the uniform height all round it before it was vandalized. A few yards to the south is what may be a cup-marking on one of the flat earthfast rocks, although I’m slightly sceptical of it.
The position of the site in the landscape is a fine one: living on a large flat open expanse of land, which was probably cleared of some trees when it was first built, allowing for a very wide view in all directions, just like its companion 250 yards to the north. Well worth checking out.
It’s worth repeating the myth we have of a place on Sleights Moor that I’ve also cited in the Flat Howe 1 site profile. Although we have nothing specific relating to this tomb, an olde creation myth tells us that the local giants, Wade and his wife Bel, left their young son (whose name seems to have been forgotten) somewhere on Sleights Moor (which aint a big place). The story was first written down by George Young (1817) in his magnum opus on Whitby and the tale was subsequently re-told by many others – Mrs Gutch (1901) for one:
“Young Wade, even when an infant, could throw a rock several tons weight to a vast distance; for one day when his mother was milking her cow near Swarthoue, the child, whom she had left on Sleights moor, became impatient for the breast, and seizing a stone of vast size, heaved it across the valley in wrath, and hit his mother with such violence, that though she was not materially hurt, her body made an impression on the stone which remained indelible, till the stone itself was broken up, a few years ago, to mend the highways!”
This rock was Bel’s Rock, whose exact location seems to have been lost.
- Elgee, Frank, Early Man in Northeast Yorkshire, Frank Bellows: Gloucester 1930.
- Elgee, Frank, The Moorlands of North-Eastern Yorkshire, A. Brown: London 1912.
- Grinsell, Leslie V., The Ancient Burial Mounds of England, Methuen: London 1936.
- Gutch, Mrs, County Folk Lore – volume 2: Examples of Printed Folk-lore Concerning the North Riding of Yorkshire, York and the Ainsty, David Nutt: London 1901.
- Jeffrey, P. Shaw, Whitby Lore and Legend, Home: Whitby 1923.
- Roberts, Anthony, Sowers of Thunder, Rider: London 1978.
- Smith, A.H., The Place-Names of the North Riding of Yorkshire, Cambridge University Press 1928.
- Young, George, A History of Whitby and Streoneshalh Abbey – volume 2, Clarke & Medd: Whitby 1817.
Acknowledgements: A huge thanks to Lindsay Mitchell for getting us up to see this great tomb and its companion; and to James Elkington for use of the photograph.
Links: Flat Howe on The Megalithic Portal
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian