Sections of linear boundary dyke in Harper Dale and Holm Dale, north east of Horsedale Plantation


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015567

Date first listed: 17-Dec-1929

Date of most recent amendment: 18-Apr-1997


Ordnance survey map of Sections of linear boundary dyke in Harper Dale and Holm Dale, north east of Horsedale Plantation
© 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 - 1015567 .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 18-Jan-2019 at 18:21:55.


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

District: East Riding of Yorkshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Huggate

District: East Riding of Yorkshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Wetwang

National Grid Reference: SE 87789 57937, SE 88276 57700


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

Reasons for Designation

Linear boundaries are substantial earthwork features comprising single or multiple ditches and banks which may extend over distances varying between less than 1km to over 10km. They survive as earthworks or as linear features visible as cropmarks on aerial photographs or as a combination of both. The evidence of excavation and study of associated monuments demonstrate that their construction spans the millennium from the Middle Bronze Age, although they may have been re-used later. The scale of many linear boundaries has been taken to indicate that they were constructed by large social groups and were used to mark important boundaries in the landscape; their impressive scale displaying the corporate prestige of their builders. They would have been powerful symbols, often with religious associations, used to define and order the territorial holdings of those groups who constructed them. Linear earthworks are of considerable importance for the analysis of settlement and land use in the Bronze Age; all well preserved examples will normally merit statutory protection.

The monument is part of a very extensive and important system of linear boundary dykes in this area of the Yorkshire Wolds, dating back to the Bronze Age. It is a rare surviving example of a particularly elaborate and complex system of interlinked banks and ditches and is very well preserved for much of its length. In addition it includes original termini and junctions with an adjacent dyke, offering important insights into the planning and construction of such complexes. Together these form an integral system of boundary and defensive earthworks in this region, affording important insights into ancient land use and territorial divisions for social, ritual and agricultural purposes in this area of the Yorkshire Wolds.


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


The monument includes four sections of Bronze Age single linear boundary banks and ditches (also known as dykes) running along the northern side of the head of Harper Dale and through Holm Dale, close to the junction of the three dry valleys of Horse, Holm and Harper Dales. The monument is divided into two separate areas. Lying close to an ancient trackway on the western side of the Wolds, the surviving part of which forms the present-day Wolds Way, the monument is part of a complex of linear banks and ditches running through Horse Dale, Holm Dale and Harper Dale. The whole system is associated with other complexes further to the west along Huggate Pasture in Frendal Dale and at its junction with Tun Dale, and further to the east back along Harper Dale towards Middleham Plantation. These dykes were used to enhance the natural topographic barriers of spurs and escarpments between valleys, with additional physical barriers of banks and ditches. Natural conduits along the floors of dry valleys were then `blocked' by other bank and ditch systems acting to control access. This is the case with this system as it drops towards the valley floor and links with the opposing system of dykes across the southern side of Harper Dale and Horse Dale. Well preserved sections of these linear boundaries are the subject of separate schedulings and in some cases, adjacent monuments may physically abut. This elaborate complex of boundary earthworks is one of the best preserved remnants of the original more extensive systems recorded and mapped as extending across large areas of the Wolds by early antiquarians such as J R Mortimer in the 19th century. Excavations and observation of spatial relationships with other earthworks of known date demonstrate this Wolds complex of earthworks to have originated in the later Bronze Age, with several subsequent phases of elaboration and augmentation. The monument also forms part of a broadly related and extensive complex of multi-period prehistoric earthworks, including bowl barrows, barrow cemeteries, linear bank and ditch systems, trackways and enclosures dispersed across Huggate and Warter Wolds, and Huggate and Millington Pastures. The monument includes four sections of banks and ditches, forming two broad, paired groups, one lying above the other in two approximately parallel arcs, one set in Holm Dale and the other in Harper Dale. The upper group consists of a single bank and ditch lying just below and augmenting the break of slope along the northern edge of Harper Dale and the south western edge of Holm Dale. Together these two sections amount to a total length of 1.8km of bank and ditch. Below this lies another, shorter section, which commences part the way up the north eastern side of Holm Dale and leads back south towards its junction with Harper Dale, climbs back up the dry valley side to form a short, parallel section with the upper bank and ditch and then passes very close to the first higher section of bank at the confluence of the two valleys. Here at the intersection of the valleys, there is a point where the two major dyke systems intersect in an original junction. The upper bank and ditch of the Harper Dale section adjoins the lower bank climbing up from Harper Dale and into Holm Dale in a nearly perpendicular original junction. However, land boundaries and fence lines have interrupted the junction of the upper dyke leading south east down Holm Dale with the upper bank and ditch of Harper Dale. The lower dyke section of Holm Dale and Harper Dale then leads back eastwards along the line of Harper Dale along the valley side, around 30m above the valley floor, and broadly parallel with the upper bank, forming a 970m length of dyke in total. Both the eastern ends of the two bank systems in Harper Dale finish abruptly, the upper at a field boundary edge. Neither are thought to have been original termini, however, as it seems likely that additional sections extended further east, to form a continuous length of boundary banks and ditches linking the eastern and western complexes described above. A hundred metres west of the end of the upper length of bank, a short, 50m section of bank leads into the monument from part way down the valley side, to the south in a short `fork'. The upper bank running along the slope break of the southern edge of Harper Dale is variable in height, ranging from 1m to nearly 2m in height and around 3m-4m wide at base. Its `U' shaped ditch lies to the north, between the bank and the break of slope, and is nearly infilled in places, being about 2m wide. It terminates at the meeting of Harper Dale with Holm Dale in a nearly perpendicular junction with the bank climbing due north west up from the floor of Harper Dale. The next section of bank and ditch leads north west up into Holm Dale, running just below the break in slope which it augments with a bank up to 2m high in places, and a deep, `U' shaped ditch lying between the bank and the break in slope, around 2m wide at its base but up to 10m wide in places across its top, particularly close to its start at the south eastern end of Holm Dale. As this section of the monument progresses due north west along the top eastern side of Holm Dale, it becomes rather less impressive in its dimensions, the bank becoming rather flattened along the top and the ditch more infilled, whilst a hedge and fenceline has served to disrupt its profile in places. Towards the north western end of this upper section of Holm Dale dyke, the bank is around 1m high, and it becomes invisible for a short section, overlain by hedges of field and parish boundaries, until it reappears in a short forked end, each short forked section being about 150m long. The northern `fork' follows the line of the field and parish boundary, and includes a low bank around 1m in height with the remains of a very shallow nearly infilled ditch to its north eastern flank. The end of the fork here is disrupted by a large spoil of excavated debris, lying along the edge of a lane which bounds the monument to its east, conforming to the line of the parish boundary. The southern `fork' is much better preserved however, and swings nearly due west right at the head of Holm Dale, to `close' the valley and link with the dyke section on the western side of the valley, in an off-set original junction. This short southern fork survives to between 1m and 1.5m in height and up to 5m wide at its base. It appears to have a ditch to both south west and north east, the latter lying between it and the end of the northern fork. The lower section of bank lying slightly above the valley floor of Harper Dale on its northern side is orientated east-west in line with the direction of the valley and broadly parallel with the upper line of bank and ditch running just below the break in slope. The bank here is low, being around 0.5m to 1m in height for much of its length, and has a shallow, infilled ditch to the north side. Towards its western junction with Holm Dale, the bank is difficult to see for a distance of around 25m, as the presence of a large rabbit warren, and mature trees, has caused considerable damage and disruption to the line of the monument. There is the appearance of an original `Y' shaped junction of banks here, formed by the ends of the lower banks of the northern Harper Dale dykes (described here) with the northern end of the cross dyke bank leading south back across Harper Dale to join with the systems of dykes running up from Horse Dale, the subject of separate schedulings. However, the presence of a large tree and the rabbit warren have disrupted a true understanding of the relationship of the banks with each other here. The next section of bank commences close to the floor of Harper Dale, some 15m north west of the northern end of the cross dyke bank just described. It is between 1m-1.25m high as it leads back up the northern side of Harper Dale nearly due west, to converge with the original terminus of the upper bank at the confluence of Holm and Harper Dale. Overall it survives well, being up to 1.5m high in places and flattened along the top, with a broad, shallow `U' shaped ditch, 3m-4m wide, lying along its eastern flank. It curves due north west around the junction of the two valleys for about a 100m, at this point being nearly parallel with the upper dyke lying just below the break of Holm Dale slope. It then changes course heading WNW for the remaining 250m length, giving a slightly stepped appearance, before diminishing in height and disappearing part of the way down the eastern side of Holm Dale, in what is not thought to be an original terminus, as there is a short 70m break, before the next and final section of the monument. This last section does not survive well above ground, being much eroded and flattened through the course of time. It is barely visible as a low bank, reused as a sheep path, its ditch now almost completely infilled as it leads north west from the floor of Holm Dale and up along the western side of the valley, toward the head of Holm Dale. North of a short valley intersecting this system here from the west, this section of the monument survives much better and becomes visible as a low, rounded bank about a metre in height, leading north back up the slope of the hillside from the floor of the small valley below, its shallow, `U' shaped, nearly infilled ditch lying along its north western flank. This northern end of this section of the monument is thought to be an original terminus, forming an off-set junction with the terminus of the southern forked section of the upper dyke system running south along the eastern break of Holm Dale slope. Modern post and wire fencing, animal feed and water dispensers and other modern farm or game bird husbandry constructions and equipment is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features 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: 26582

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Mortimer, J R , Forty Years Researches in British and Saxon Burial Mounds of East Yorkshire, (1905), 365-380
Dent, J, 'Archaeological Journal' in The Yorkshire Dykes, (1984), 32-33
Dent, J, 'Archaeological Journal' in The Yorkshire Dykes, (1984), 32-33
Halkon, P, 'Prehistory Research Section Bulletin' in The Huggate Dykes, , Vol. 30, (1993), 10
Manby, T, 'Current Archaeology' in The Yorkshire Dykes, , Vol. 67, (1979), 233
Humberside SMR, Sites and Monuments Records Sheet, (1994)
Humberside SMR, Sites and Monuments Records Sheet, (1994)

End of official listing