Enclosed prehistoric settlement east of Malham Cove


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010553

Date first listed: 06-Feb-1964

Date of most recent amendment: 21-Feb-1995


Ordnance survey map of Enclosed prehistoric settlement east of Malham Cove
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Craven (District Authority)

Parish: Malham


National Grid Reference: SD 89919 64028

Reasons for Designation

During the mid-prehistoric period (seventh to fifth centuries BC) a variety of different types of defensive settlements began to be constructed and occupied in the northern uplands of England. The most obvious sites were hillforts built in prominent locations. In addition to these a range of smaller sites, sometimes with an enclosed area of less than 1ha and defined as defended settlements, were also constructed. Some of these were located on hilltops, others are found in less prominent positions. The enclosing defences were of earthen construction, some sites having a single bank and ditch (univallate), others having more than one (multivallate). At some sites these earthen ramparts represent a second phase of defence, the first having been a timber fence or palisade. Within the enclosure a number of stone or timber-built round houses were occupied by the inhabitants. Stock may also have been kept in these houses, especially during the cold winter months, or in enclosed yards outside them. The communities occupying these sites were probably single family groups, the defended settlements being used as farmsteads. Construction and use of this type of site extended over several centuries, possibly through to the early Romano-British period (mid to late first century AD). Defended settlements are a rare monument type. They were an important element of the later prehistoric settlement pattern of the northern uplands and are important for any study of the developing use of fortified settlements during this period. All well-preserved examples are believed to be of national importance.

The site is well preserved. It is one of a very small group of sites all located in this area of the Yorkshire Dales which include intramural passageways. All sites exhibiting this rare construction feature are considered to be nationally important.


The monument is situated on the south side of Sheriff Hill beneath a low limestone outcrop. It includes a subrectangular enclosure 16m by 13m with walls 1.5m thick. A passageway is built on to the west wall of the enclosure and abutting the natural outcrop at its northern end. At its southern end this passageway terminates in a small enclosure measuring 4m by 1.5m, the inner face of which is built with upright stones. The passageway is 0.7m wide by 0.7m deep and 11m long; its floor is paved with slabby limestone. The enclosure walls are grass covered and up to 1.5m wide. Adjoining the east side of the enclosure is a smaller, less well preserved enclosure, the south east boundary of which consists of isolated large boulders. A number of similar sites are found in this area; they have been described by Dr Arthur Raistrick as including `wall passages'. The function of this passage is not yet fully understood; it may have been a storage place.

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: 24525

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Raistrick, Dr A, 'Field Studies' in Archaeology Of Malham Moor, , Vol. Vol.1, (1962), 14-16

End of official listing