Cock Howe, Skelton Moor, Marske, North Yorkshire

Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – NZ 0811 0063

Getting Here

Cock Howe1 cairn

Take the minor high road between the hamlets of Marske and Fremington (up Hard Stiles from Marske side), turning up Stelling Road at the crossroads, and ⅔-mile (1.1km) along, turn right up Helwith Road. ¾-mile (1.2km) along, on the right, walk thru the gate onto the moor following the walling.  Nearly 400 yards on you meet a junction of walling: walk past this until you reach the next line of walling and then follow it northeast for just over 500 yards. Once there, look for the mounds in the heather immediately south, less than 50 yards away.

Archaeology & History

This is one of the “isolated cairns of fair size” mentioned in passing by Tim Laurie (1985) in his survey of the massive settlement and field systems scattering this gorgeous moorland arena.  It is one amongst a scatter of several in and around the eastern height of Cock Howe hill on the south side of Skelton Moor.  The area has sadly been scarred by an excess of old lime mines—many of which are visible close by—damaging with some severity the excess of prehistoric remains on these moors, none of which have yet been excavated in any detail.  This cairn included.

More cairns to the rear

Even though much of the heather here had been burnt back when James Elkington and I visited the place recently, the pile of stones was still very embedded into the peat.  The moorland rabbits had dislodged some of the stones, highlighting the mass of rocks much better.  It stands nearly a metre high and is roughly 7 yards by 8 yards in diameter from edge to edge, structurally similar to the many Bronze Age cairns scattering Rombalds Moor, Askwith Moor and other Yorkshire clusters.  A second cairn of similar size and stature exists some 30 yards to the southeast (visible on one of the photos).

For anyone who might visit this site, the most impressive features hereby are the huge settlement remains scattering the moors just north of the wall a few yards away.  When the heather has been burnt back, a veritable prehistoric city unfolds before your eyes, with extensive lengths of walling, hut circles and what can only be described as huge halls, in which tribal meetings probably occurred – much of it in superb condition!  Well worth visiting.


  1. Laurie, T.C., “Early Land Division and Settlement in Swaledale,” in Upland Settlement in Britain: the Second Millennium B.C. and After, ed. Don Spratt and Colin Burgess, BAR British Series 143, 1985.
  2. Martlew, R.D., Prehistory in the Yorkshire Dales, YDLRT: York 2011.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian