A cross-dyke in Vessey Pasture Dale


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

North Yorkshire
Ryedale (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SE 83314 62279

Reasons for Designation

Cross-dykes are substantial linear earthworks typically between 0.2km and 1km long and comprising one or more ditches arranged beside and parallel to one or more banks. They generally occur in upland situations, running across ridges and spurs. They are recognised as earthworks or as cropmarks on aerial photographs, or as combinations of both. The evidence of excavation and analogy with associated monuments demonstrates that their construction spans the millennium from the Middle Bronze Age, although they may have been re-used later. Current information favours the view that they were used as territorial boundary markers, probably demarcating land allotment within communities, although they may also have been used as trackways, cattle droveways or defensive earthworks. Cross-dykes are one of the few monument types which illustrate how land was divided up in the prehistoric period. They are of considerable importance for any analysis of settlement and land use in the Bronze Age. Very few have survived to the present day and hence all well- preserved examples are considered to be of national importance.

The length of the cross-dyke which lies in Vessey Pasture Dale is well- preserved. It joins another well-preserved dyke to form part of an extensive system of prehistoric dykes recorded on Birdsall Wold. The monument is associated with other broadly contemporary monuments of similar type on Birdsall Wold. Parallels are also known from other parts of the Wolds and from the southern edge of the North York Moors. Such associations between monuments offer important scope for the study of the division of land for social, ritual and agricultural purposes in different geographical areas during the prehistoric period.


The monument includes the upstanding earthworks of a cross-dyke running up the northern slope of Vessey Pasture Dale. The dyke comprises a 5m wide ditch which is up to 0.5m deep and flanked by two 5m wide banks. The western bank is 1m high at the foot of the slope but becomes very slight towards the top, while the eastern ditch is 0.5m high but survives as a distinct earthwork as far as the crest of the slope. There is no evidence for the continuance of the cross-dyke to the north, although it may have followed the modern field boundary. At the foot of the slope, the cross- dyke terminates where it is cut across by a second cross-dyke which runs along the floor of the Dale. It also at this point meets up with two other cross- dykes. (Two of these four cross-dykes are indentified for the purposes of scheduling as 20471 and 20473). The four cross-dykes abut, but for purposes of clarity, they are being defined as four distinct cross-dykes, three of which are the subject of separate schedulings.

MAP EXTRACT 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.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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