A cross-dyke on Birdsall Brow


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1007613

Date first listed: 14-Jan-1994


Ordnance survey map of A cross-dyke on Birdsall Brow
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1007613 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 24-Jan-2019 at 06:21:11.


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

County: North Yorkshire

District: Ryedale (District Authority)

Parish: Birdsall

National Grid Reference: SE 82643 63389


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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.

Although altered over much of its length by agricultural activity, the northern end of the cross-dyke on Birdsall Brow is well-preserved as an earthwork. It was part of an extensive system of prehistoric dykes which has been recorded in the vicinity of Birdsall Wold and has further associations with other broadly contemporary monuments of similar type. 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.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes the best-preserved part of a cross-dyke running from the crest of Birdsall Wold to Swinham Cottages on Birdsall Brow. The earthworks comprise a 0.1m deep ditch, 6m wide, flanked on each side by slight banks. The maximum width of the monument is 15m. The dyke terminates at the foot of the hill to the south of Swinham Cottages and, although the 19th century survey by J R Mortimer recorded the continuing southward course of the cross-dyke on the top of the Wold, there is no longer any evidence that the earthworks survive on the higher ground.

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.

Legacy System number: 20472

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Mortimer, J R , Forty Years Researches in British and Saxon Burial Mounds of East Yorkshire, (1905)
Stoetz, K., RCHME unpublished survey,

End of official listing