Beamsley Beacon Bronze Age Cairn

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Beamsley Beacon Bronze Age Cairn MYD4329 (c) YDNPA, 2023

Beamsley Beacon Bronze Age Cairn MYD4329 (c) YDNPA, 2023

Beamsley Beacon cairn forms an impressive mound, twelve metres in diameter and over two metres high, set at the beginning of a long broad ridge which heads towards the north-east. It commands panoramic views in practically every direction, even as far as Pendle Hill in Lancashire, whose distinctive long sloping profile dominates the south-western horizon. From the size, shape and position of Beamsley Beacon cairn it is thought to date from the 2nd millennium BC and to have been constructed during the Bronze Age as a funerary structure. It may contain later burials, in common with other cairns of this date in the area. It has not been excavated, so our knowledge and understanding of it is limited.

Several hundred metres to the north-east along the broad ridge is an equally interesting site Old Pike. Here the cairn structure is harder to identify, but stones appear to have been added to a natural knoll and some large gritstone boulders which were already there. It is not known whether it was built before or after the neighbouring cairn on Beamsley Beacon, but is interesting for its obvious conflation of natural and manmade features and enhancement of a topographic feature.

The current condition of both these prehistoric cairns gives cause for concern. Beamsley Beacon cairn may well have been partly robbed of stone some 200 years ago to provide material for the Napoleonic guard hut and beacon sub-structure. Much more recently visitors have taken stones from it to create flanking circular stone features and walkers cairns. Similar damage has occurred at Old Man Pike. The modern habit of building ‘walkers cairns’ and other structures poses a threat to many prehistoric monuments. It is also destroying the atmosphere which once existed here as the simple clean profiles of the original cairns are now surrounded by an untidy and ugly clutter of features.

Beamsley Beacon Bronze Age Cairn MYD4329 (c) YDNPA, 2023

Beamsley Beacon Bronze Age Cairn MYD4329 (c) YDNPA, 2023


Beamsley Beacon cairn is located at the south-western end of Beamsley Beacon, overlooking the junction of Wharfedale with Kex Beck. Old Pike is 400m further along the ridge to the north-east. To reach them from Bolton Bridge roundabout take A59 to Harrogate. After 600 metres take the right hand turn to Beamsley. In village, take first left. The lane climbs above Langbar and the beacon can be accessed across moorland via the path which lies just to the north-west of Beacon Hall. The path veers left around the rear of some gardens and crosses a beck. The track then splits, but either course can be taken, as they rejoin further on and continue up to the summit. Beamsley Beacon cairn is right by the OS triangulation point; Old Pike is 400m north-east along a well-defined path on the ridge. For further details on Access Land see the Countryside Access website Select OS grid reference on the home page and type in the grid reference listed above. This will give you a printable map of the area, as well as details concerning access. Public rights of way are unaffected by changes in access status.

Public Transport Details

Nearest town/village: Bolton Bridge. Call Traveline on 0870 608 2 608 to plan your journey. After the welcome message key in 885 for North Yorkshire information.


The path is very steep in places and extremely rough underfoot. Parts of it may be boggy.