A cross dyke on Knapton Wold, 500m west of West Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


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

North Yorkshire
Ryedale (District Authority)
North Yorkshire
Ryedale (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SE 89082 74415

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 cross dyke on Knapton Wold is reasonably well preserved and is one of a pair of dykes demarcating land divisions on this Wold. This example divides off the western end of the Wold; another cross dyke makes a similar boundary 2km to the east. The cross dyke is associated with other broadly contemporary monuments on the Wolds, including boundary earthworks, burial mounds and especially the Late Bronze and Early Iron Age settlement at Staple Howe. Similar groups of monuments are also known from other parts of the Wolds and from the southern edge of the North York Moors (although Staple Howe is an example of a relatively rare site type). Such associations between monuments offer important scope for the study of the divisions of land for social, ritual and agricultural purposes.


The monument includes the best-preserved part of a cross dyke which runs across the western end of Knapton Wold, between Knapton Plantation and Deep Dale Belt. The Wolds Way footpath runs along part of the monument. The cross- dyke comprises a pair of parallel ditches, each 8m wide by up to 1.5m deep, with a 0.5m high bank between them and flanked by a 0.5m high bank on each side. The overall width of the cross dyke is 24m, although for most of its length the outer banks have been eroded over the years by ploughing and it will have been slightly wider originally. Towards its north end, the earthwork becomes less clearly defined; the ditches are less than 0.3m deep and the banks are barely visible; the dyke also appears to terminate at the boundary of Knapton Plantation and, although it may have continued down the north-facing slope of the Wold, forestry and quarrying activity has removed all traces of the earthwork. Sixty metres south of the Plantation, the farm access road is cut through the dyke, although the bottoms of the ditches will survive beneath the road surface. Forty metres north of the edge of Deep Dale Plantation, the earthworks are interrupted by another crossing point; this feature lines up with an old east-west field boundary that is visible on aerial photographs. South of this crossing point, the two ditches merge into one before fading out at the plantation boundary. In contrast with the northern end, there is evidence that the cross dyke continued for a further 300m down the hillside towards Wintringham village, although these earthworks are relatively poorly defined and considerably altered by forestry. All fences and the metalled surface of the farm access road are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

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:


Stoertz C, RCHME unpublished survey (1992), 1992,


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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