Reasons for Designation
A palisaded hilltop enclosure is a small defended site of domestic function
dating to the Late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age (c.550-440 BC). Their
distribution is largely restricted to north-eastern England, the Borders and
southern Scotland. They are generally located on spurs, promontories or
hilltops covering areas of less than 0.4ha. The boundaries of these sites are
marked by single or double rock-cut trenches which originally formed the
settings for substantial palisades. Remains of circular buildings are found
within the palisaded areas, along with evidence for fenced stock enclosures.
Palisaded sites are the earliest type of defended settlements recorded in the
area and are thought to be a product of increasingly unsettled social
conditions in the later prehistoric period. They imply an extensive use of
timber, confirmation that large areas were heavily wooded at this time.
Although the palisades at individual sites may have undergone several phases
of replacement or refurbishment it is thought that the tradition of building
this type of site spanned only around 150 years. After this the use of earthen
banks and ditches to form the defensive perimeter became more common.
Excavation has demonstrated that at several sites the earthen defences were
preceded by timber palisades.
Palisaded enclosures are a rare monument type with fewer than 200 known
examples. They are an important element of the later prehistoric settlement
pattern and are important for any study of the developing use of defended
settlements during the later prehistoric period. All identified surviving
examples are believed to be nationally important.
Prehistoric rock carving is found on natural boulders and rock outcrops in
many areas of upland Britain. It is especially common in the north of England
in Northumberland, Durham, and North and West Yorkshire. The most common form
of decoration is the `cup' marking, where small cup-like hollows are worked
into the surface of the rock. These cups may be surrounded by one or more
`rings'. Single pecked lines extending from the cup through the rings may also
exist, providing the design with a `tail'. Other shapes and patterns also
occur but are less frequent. Carvings may occur singly, in small groups, or
may cover extensive areas of rock surface. They date to the Late Neolithic and
Bronze Age periods (2800-c.500 BC) and provide one of our most important
insights into prehistoric `art'. The exact meaning of the designs remains
unknown, but they may be interpreted as sacred or religious symbols. All
positively identified prehistoric rock carvings sites will normally be
identified as nationally important.
The carved rock, the palisaded enclosure and the associated small enclosure
480m north west of Brier Dykes survive well and form an important part of the
prehistoric landscape on the north side of Baldersdale, which includes other
carved rocks and evidence of prehistoric land use and settlement.
The monument includes a palisaded hilltop enclosure, a prehistoric carved
rock, and a small enclosure on the north side of Baldersdale, 480m north west
of Brier Dykes.
The visible remains of the palisaded enclosure consist of a slight bank and an
external ditch, forming a parallelogram with rounded corners, 85m by 85m. The
bank is typically 0.2m to 0.3m high and 3m wide, the ditch being present as a
slight dip. Excavations in 1982 revealed evidence for a timber palisade in the
enclosure ditch, and an arc of postholes in the interior may have been part of
a hut circle. On the east side of the enclosure there is a slight earthern
bank parallel to the main enclosure boundary, which suggests a double palisade
on this side.
The carved rock is situated in the break of slope which forms the south east
edge of the palisaded enclosure. The rock is partly covered by turf, and the
visible part measures 1m by 0.5m by 0.1m. The carving consists of two cups.
The small enclosure is trapezoidal and is situated on slightly lower ground on
the east side of the palisaded hilltop enclosure. It measures 20m by 36m and
is bounded by a bank, 2.5m wide and 0.4m high, with an external ditch, except
on the south side where the remains of the bank are less substantial.
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.