Keys to the Past


Pillow mound

Long, low mounds of the Medieval and Post-Medieval period. These are usually cigar-shaped and in groups. These were artificial warrens built to house rabbits for their fur and the table. A Medieval licence for the were required from the King, which gave the 'Right of Free Warren' on a piece of illuminated manuscript, which Robert de Ogle acquired for Thirston in 1341AD.

They had stone chambers and tunnels covered by earth for the rabbits to live in. They had many entrances in and out so the rabbits could sit on the mound of earth, spot predators, and run for cover if necessary. It was the Normans who introduced the Rabbit or Coney to Britain. There are still fields called Coney Garth near Ashington, (Northumberland). People who looked after pillow mounds were called Warreners. Pillow mounds were sometimes put on land of little economic value otherwise, such as quarry or mine spoil.

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