OS Grid Reference: SD 92955 47705. About ½ a mile to the south-east of Thornton-in-Craven, North Yorkshire, is Hare Hill and an early Bronze Age ring cairn or round barrow (tumulus). This ancient monument is on Hare Hill, close to footpaths which head northwest from Clogger Lane near Elslack. However, the burial cairn is now without its mound of earth and stones. At the south-east side is Low Hill, which might be a significant place-name here, and over at the northwest side, Stone Pit Hill. It was excavated back in the 1930s and 40s and many of the finds, including a large funerary urn, were deposited in the Craven Museum at Skipton. From the A56 Skipton Road near Thornton-in-Craven, turn (right) towards Elslack passing the hall, then right again onto Clogger Lane for ¾ of a mile and, after the woodland, take any of three paths (Pennine Way) on your right in a northwesterly direction onto the moor. Hare Hill being the second of the three lows hills in front of you.
The round barrow monument atop Hare Hill on Thornton Moor is an early Bronze Age ring cairn or cairn circle that has lost its covering mound of earth and stones, but its outer ditch just about survives at the NW and SW sides, and there is possibly an inner ditch. Its raised bank is about 0.7m (2.3 ft) high, while the whole monument has a diameter of roughly 24m (78.7ft) and a radius across of 13m (42.6 ft) x 12m (39.3 ft). However, considering how long ago that this burial mound was constructed it is in a reasona-bly well preserved state, just a bit messed-around with in the middle! There are several stones towards the central part of the circle but as to whether these came from the burial cist or from the bank is not certain, and the stones may not be in their original positions? The signs of excavations here are all to clear to see with a small hollow and a large shaped stone above, and smaller ones inside it, which might have been the cist burial, while other small piles of stones can still be seen embedded into the grassy bank. There may have been a settlement in the vicinity of the ring cairn though there are no visible earthworks here.
The ring cairn was excavated back in the 1930s and 1940s by Mr Welbury Holgate (who was accompanied by his sisters) and, over a number of years, there were many interesting finds including a very large collared funery urn with patternation, which broke into many pieces on being unearthed from the stone cist, but it was eventually (partly) restored and deposited in The Craven Museum, Skipton. It’s thought that up to 21, mainly young people, were buried in the cairn between the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age periods of pre-history. There were other finds including charcoal deposits, flints, an axehead and bone pins or needles. There is more information on the Hare Hill site on the ‘OneGuyFromBarlick’ website: https://oneguyfrombarlick.co.uk/viewtopic.php?f=59&t=14401
John & Phillip Dixon (1990) tells us that: “A Bronze Age collared urn displaying cord and jabbed impressions was found in a barrow on Hare Hill, Thornton-in-Craven. This is now on display in the Craven Museum, Skipton.” They also say: “A fine Bronze Age dagger was found in a field below the Manor House Residential Home, just up the road, in the 1960’s (SD 909484).”
Sources / References & related websites:-
Dixon, John & Phillip, Journeys Through Brigantia Volume One: Walks in Craven, Airedale and Wharfedale, Aussteiger Publications, Barnoldswick, 1990.
©Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2019.