We took a walk from Wetherby up to North Deighton via Green Howe last weekend. I have been reading more about barrow culture recently; P.V. Glob's Mound People has been inspiring me in many ways, so it seemed appropriate to go and look at what is possibly the nearest one.
Green Howe is a round barrow 60ft in diameter, although heavily ploughed down. The Yorkshire Archaeological Journal from May 1971 details its excavation over some thirty years; the barrow contained 16 burials from late neolithic to bronze age, mostly children or teenagers. North Deighton is a strange little hamlet, neat to a fault and with a strange quiet for its slightly elevated position over a chalky stretch of land. We found all footpaths blocked, although becoming stranded in a nearby farmyard provided a Marie Celeste-like creepiness rather than the bollocking we were expecting.
Closer to the mound itself, easily spotted from the childrens' playground at the rear of the distinctive and historical row of cottages in North Deighton, we chanced upon a local guy starting up his vintage car. He told us the local farmer was unfriendly, all the locals were pretty unfriendly and we'd have no luck at the farmhouse. We believed him, having read about the landowner's uncompromising attitude prior to our visit in an archaeological survey which mentioned the lack of access and the refusal to preserve the mound from ploughing. Instead, after hearing all about the ghostly disturbances our local and his wife experienced in the locality, we took a wide berth of the farmhouse and skirted the (freshly ploughed!) field in which Green Howe stood. I was able to photograph it, but not very well, and we could only get a rough idea of the character of the mound. I wondered at the time what we'd gained by visiting it, but in retrospect the strangeness of the locale has formed strong images in my mind. The landscape has a kind of foreign quality, the soil is different here and the land has more gentle undulations than the gritstone further west, from down by the Crimple beck this mound helps to form a pregnant hill against the setting sun. The archaeological notes mention the soil reflecting a woodland setting, a prominent mound rising in a clearing of the trees. The notes also mention the existence of a hearth predating even the three primary burials, possibly the mound was built on an even more ancient settlement which was for some reason a significant place for the burial of younger family members.