Section of linear boundary dyke on Cow Moor, Millington Dale


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


Ordnance survey map of Section of linear boundary dyke on Cow Moor, Millington Dale
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

East Riding of Yorkshire (Unitary Authority)
East Riding of Yorkshire (Unitary Authority)
East Riding of Yorkshire (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SE 84730 53667

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 survives well for most of its length, and 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.


The monument includes a 1.6km long section of Bronze Age linear boundary bank and ditch (also known as a dyke) running approximately north-south across Cow Moor along the eastern side of Millington Dale. 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 north from Warter Wold and Millington Bottom through Millington Dale and up into Frendal Dale, crossing east into Horse Dale and Harper Dale in the direction of Bottlands and Middleham Plantation. The whole system is associated with other complexes of linear bank and ditch systems further south along Cow Dale and Rabbit Dale, north east of Huggate village. 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 acting 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 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. From its southern end on the northern side of Sylvan Dale, which is thought to be an original terminus, the bank climbs north steeply up the valley side onto Cow Moor, where it continues heading due north, and then curving slightly north east, keeping the line of Millington Dale, just along the break of slope. Throughout its 1.6km length, the bank is variable in height and degree of preservation. In places, particularly along the southern half, it is worn through with gaps and narrow causeways, probably the result of erosion by stock through time. Where it is well preserved, it survives in places to heights of between 1.5m and 1.75m, and is around 1m wide across its top and between 3m-4m broad at the base. The ditch lies along the eastern side, between the bank and the break in slope to the high ground, and is `U' shaped in profile and an average of 2m wide. In other places both bank and ditch are less well preserved, the bank surviving to heights of less than 1m, with the ditch being nearly infilled and difficult to see. Towards the northern end, the line of the monument converges with a farm trackway which heads north along the line of the ditch and then swings down into Nettle Dale. Another trackway leading from the road in Millington Dale eastwards back into fields in Nettle Dale and has disrupted the line of the bank and ditch in the floor of the valley. The earthwork remains become visible again on the northern side of Nettle Dale, along the western edge of Jessop's Plantation. It climbs north up the steep side of the valley and continues northwards along the eastern side of Millington Dale, along the break in slope, in the direction of Pasture Dale and Huggate Sheep Walk. This section of the monument is well preserved again and here the bank survives to heights of up to 2m in places, 1m wide at its top and 4m-5m broad at its base, with a pronounced, 2m-3m wide `U' shaped ditch lying to the east. At its northern end the bank and ditch dip down into Huggate Sheep Walk, where they are disrupted by the line of the modern road here, and disappear. Modern post and wire fencing, animal feed and water dispensers and other modern farm or game bird husbandry constructions and equipment are excluded from the scheduling along with the surface of the adjacent road, although the ground beneath all 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:
Legacy System:


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

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