Section of linear boundary dyke south of Middleham Plantation and Harper Dale Plantation
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1015569
Date first listed: 17-Dec-1929
Date of most recent amendment: 18-Apr-1997
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This copy shows the entry on 19-Nov-2018 at 17:43:38.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: East Riding of Yorkshire (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference: SE 90199 58215
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 well preserved for much of its length, and is one of the rare surving sections of bank with double flanking ditches. It is closely associated with other adjacent complexes of linear banks and ditches, which together form an integral system of boundary and defensive earthworks in this region. As such it offers 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 a 1.67km long section of Bronze Age linear boundary bank
and ditches (also known as a dyke) orientated nearly east-west between
Bottlands Slack and Harper Dale, running south east along the line of
Middleham Plantation. At its south western end it includes a 500m long section
surviving in the form of buried ditches revealed by aerial photography,
stretching nearly as far as the next section of dyke at the head of Harper
Dale, which is the subject of a separate scheduling.
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 from Horse Dale through
Harper Dale eastwards in the direction of Bottlands and Middleham Plantation,
and further south along Cow Dale and Rabbit Dale, north east of Huggate
village. The whole system is associated with other complexes of single and
double linear bank and ditch systems further to the west along Huggate Pasture
in Frendal Dale and its junction with Tun Dale, stretching south in the
direction of Pasture Dale, Millington Dale and Cow Moor, linking up with the
systems of boundary dykes in those areas.
These dykes were used to enhance the natural topographical barriers of spurs
and ridges between valleys, with the additional physical barriers of banks and
ditches. Natural conduits along the floors of the dry valleys were then
`blocked' by other bank and ditch systems to control access.
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
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 a 1.15km length of boundary dyke surviving as a visible
earthwork above ground, represented by a low bank and double ditch, of very
variable height and width. The bank varies from as little as 0.5m up to 1.5m
high and between 4m-5m wide for much of its length, and has shallow, partly
infilled ditches to both its north and south. The system is not a continuous
one, being broken in places with occasional trackways of a later period, made
to afford access from one side of the monument to the other.
The ditch lying along the southern side of the bank is at the junction of a
shallow valley side with the upland to the south east and its overall
dimensions are smaller than those of the ditch to the north, narrowing in
places to less than 1m wide and occasionally becoming `V' shaped in profile.
The northern ditch is the more pronounced of the two and wider, being between
1.5m and 2m wide at its base and more clearly `U' shaped, with shallow sloping
sides of up to 5m wide at the top. Its southern edge slopes upwards into the
adjoining and parallel bank lying above it on slightly higher ground.
The south western end of the visible earthwork section disappears into arable
fields, where it survives below ground as buried ditches clearly revealed in
crop marks visible from the air. The south western end of this crop mark
section is not an original terminus, as early maps suggest that it would have
originally extended further westward back towards Harper Dale and related dyke
systems in that area. However, there is no evidence of such a direct link
visible on aerial photographs. As the monument enters the woodland plantation
further eastwards, the bank becomes much more pronounced, up to 1.5m high and
between 6m and 7m in width at its base. The ditch to the north is also more
pronounced and `U' shaped in profile, around 2m wide and 1.5m deep. At the
north eastern end of the monument, the bank is nearly 2.5m high, sloping down
to into the ditch to the north, which is 1.5m deep and up to 3m wide here. The
ditch to the south is, however, far more shallow, and is around 1.5m wide. The
system then merges into the natural hillside here and disappears, although
this end is not thought to have been an original terminus, as aerial
photographs reveal the crop marks of buried linear ditches on this same
alignment, further north east in the direction of Blealands and Bessing Dale.
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 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: 26584
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, , Vol. 141, (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)
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