Reasons for Designation
Deer parks were areas of land, usually enclosed, set aside and equipped for
the management and hunting of deer and other animals. They were generally
located in open countryside on marginal land or adjacent to a manor house,
castle or palace. They varied in size between 3ha and 1600ha and usually
comprised a combination of woodland and grassland which provided a mixture of
cover and grazing for deer. Parks could contain a number of features,
including hunting lodges (often moated), a park-keeper's house, rabbit
warrens, fishponds and enclosures for game, and were usually surrounded by a
park pale, a massive fenced or hedged bank often with an internal ditch. Some
parks were superimposed on existing fieldscapes and their laying-out may have
involved the demolition of occupied farms and villages. Occasionally a park
may contain the well preserved remains of this earlier landscape. Although a
small number of parks may have been established in the Anglo-Saxon period, it
was the Norman aristocracy's taste for hunting that led to the majority being
constructed. The peak period for the laying-out of parks, between AD 1200 and
1350, coincided with a time of considerable prosperity amongst the nobility.
From the 15th century onwards few parks were constructed and by the end of the
17th century the deer park in its original form had largely disappeared. The
original number of deer parks nationally is unknown but probably exceeded
3000. Many of these survive today, although often altered to a greater or
lesser degree. They were established in virtually every county in England, but
are most numerous in the West Midlands and Home Counties. Deer parks were a
long-lived and widespread monument type. Today they serve to illustrate an
important aspect of the activities of medieval nobility and still exert a
powerful influence on the pattern of the modern countryside. Those deer parks
which survive well, are well-documented, and contain within their boundaries
significant well-preserved evidence of earlier landscapes, are normally
identified as nationally important.
This section of deer park boundary dyke is reasonably well preserved and is
one of a group of dykes which together enclosed the deer park on, and adjacent
to, Cow Green, Crosby Gill and Hazel Moor. Together these dykes form an
extensive and complex system of medieval land division and will contribute to
any study of the history of land use in the marginal areas of this region.
The monument is a c.280m length of dyke and ditch at Crosby Gill which formed
a boundary, or pale, of a medieval deer park. It is aligned east-west. It
measures up to 4.2m wide by 1.1m high and is flanked by a ditch up to 1m wide
on at least one and occasionally both sides. The dyke is one of seven lengths
of dyke associated with the deer park at, or adjacent to, Cow Green, Crosby
Gill and Hazel Moor. Additionally, five medieval shielings are located in
close proximity to lengths of the dyke.
The deer park was enclosed in 1336 by the Threlkeld family of Crosby Lodge,
then called Crosby Gill, and enclosed about 700 acres. During medieval times
it was owned successively by the families of Pickering, Wilson and Rawlinson.
A modern field boundary running along part of the dyke is excluded from the
scheduling but the ground beneath it is included.
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.