Two howes Cairn

In Focus

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Erosion damage at Two Howes   Footpath erosion at Simon Howe  
Walkers Cairn and Shelter at Simon Howe   Recording conditions at Simon Howe  
kerb stones at Simon Howe   Standing Stone at Simon Howe  


Simon Howe and Two Howes

Managing our Heritage into the Future

As part of a continuing programme of Scheduled Monument management, NAA have recently been commissioned by the North York Moors National Park archaeologist to undertake a conditions assessment and management plan for three important prehistoric sites on the moor just to the south of Goathland.

The first, Simon Howe, is a low, eroded round cairn, measuring approx. 11.50m in diameter, located on the summit (260m OD) of a curving ridge 3km south of Goathland. The site incorporates a stone kerb (more prominent on the eastern side) and is associated with a line of four standing stones. The socket for a fifth stone was noted by Raymond Hayes when he recorded the site following a moorland fire in 1947. It lies on the path of Lyke Wake Walk, an ancient track, and popular footpath, which runs east to west across the moor, connecting with the Roman Road to the west. The other sites lie to the north-west of Simon Howe along the prominent ridge line. Two Howes, as the name suggests, comprises two round cairns, approx. 120m apart. The first cairn measures approx 15m in diameter, the second (located to the south-east) is slightly smaller.

All three sites are a popular destination for hikers and walkers, as well as those on a day trip to Goathland who take a wander up onto the moor to visit these more remote sites. Unfortunately, it is this very popularity which is threatening the future existence of the monuments and placing them at risk. Years of people venturing off the main footpath has caused the formation of tracks right across the cairns as well as several smaller adhoc desire trails. These all serve to erode away the surface of the features and in some place result in deep erosion scars which expose the ancient deposits below. At Simon Howe there is also the additional problem that the erosion of the soil is leading to the loosening of the surrounding kerb stones.

As well as the footpath issue, the practice of building walker's cairns is also an increasing cause for concern. Although the practice seems innocent enough, in reality people are dislodging the ancient stones themselves to build these structures. At Simon Howe there is some evidence that in recent years some of the smaller kerb stones have been dislodged and used to add to the walker's cairn and nearby shelter. As well as threatening the original construction of the monuments, the walker's cairns also provide an attractive shelter for sheep during harsh weather; this exacerbates the erosion issue.

The work at Two Howes and Simon Howe has only just begun but, working together with the NYMNP and local landowners, we hope to be able to secure a way forward which will serve to both protect and conserve the monuments into the future. In the meantime, we would like to remind people who visit the sites over the summer (and beyond) to respect and care for these enigmatic features. Please keep to the established footpath and do not climb over the monuments. Secondly, no matter how tempting it may seem, please do not add to the walker's cairns. In this way we can ensure that both Simon Howe and Two Howe continue in the landscape for everyone to marvel at and enjoy.