Cairn: OS Grid Reference – SE 83007 98096
From Pickering take the moor road towards Whitby (A169) for approx. 12 miles. After passing the huge Fylingdales Early Warning radar on the right (you can’t miss it), the road dips down to cross Eller Beck as a dog leg. After a half mile turn off left (west) towards Goathland (signposted). There’s a free car park on the left where you can sit for awhile and enjoy the views. Follow the road under the North Yorks Moor railway bridge, and after a third-of-a-mile the road turns slightly left. Park in the little layby and follow the track onto the moors. Cross the small stream and walk along the narrow track through gorgeous heather for a mile and a half. Ahead you will see Simon Howe prominent on a ridge, with a stone row leading to it.
Archaeology & History
This impressive prehistoric tomb was first described in deeds as early as 1335 as Simondshou, which A.H. Smith (1928) translates to mean ‘Sigemund’s mound’ – alluding it to have been either the burial of someone with that name, or a name given to it by the incoming Vikings, oh so many centuries ago. The latter is the more probable of the two…
With excellent views in all directions, this monument is found high up in the landscape at the meeting of four paths that are closely aligned to the cardinal directions. It was highlighted as a tumulus on the 1854 OS-map of the region and subsequently included in Windle’s (1909) listings as a “round barrow”, found in association with “three upright stones” running to the northeast. There are in fact four stones.
Not much has been written about it in archaeological circles. Thankfully a brief survey of it was undertaken in 1947 by Raymond Hayes (1988) after a moorland blaze had cleared the heather, enabling good conditions to see the site more clearly. He told that,
“Simon Howe…is very mutilated, what survives indicates that it was 11.50m in diameter and it is clear that it incorporated a stone kerb.”
This “stone kerb”, or surrounding ring of stones, is a feature found at other tombs on these hills—Flat Howe (1) being just one example. However, in contrast to Flat Howe (1), Simon Howe has had most of its central mound totally stripped by peoples unknown a few centuries ago. The remains we see today look more like a small ruined stone circle with internal rubble and a new walker’s cairn growing slowly from its centre. Outside the cairn, just a few yards northeast, a fascinating megalithic stone row emerges. Whether these were erected at the same time (in the early to mid-Bronze age, in my opinion) only an excavation would tell.
- Hayes, Raymond H., North-East Yorkshire Studies: Archaeological Papers, YAS: Leeds 1988.
- Smith, A.H., The Place-Names of the North Riding of Yorkshire, Cambridge University Press 1928.
- White, Stanhope, Standing Stones and Earthworks on the North Yorkshire Moors, privately printed: Scarborough 1987.
- Windle, Bertram C.A., Remains of the Prehistoric Age in England, Methuen: London 1909.
Acknowledgements: A huge thanks to James Elkington for use of the photograph in this site profile, as well as telling us about Getting Here. And the map accompanying this site profile is Reproduced with the kind permission of the National Library of Scotland.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian