A cross-dyke on Birdsall Brow
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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This copy shows the entry on 04-Mar-2021 at 22:25:18.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- North Yorkshire
- Ryedale (District Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- SE 82643 63389
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.
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:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Mortimer, J R , Forty Years Researches in British and Saxon Burial Mounds of East Yorkshire, (1905)
Stoetz, K., RCHME unpublished survey,
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