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Prehistoric field system and seven round barrows on West Ayton Moor

List Entry Summary

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Prehistoric field system and seven round barrows on West Ayton Moor

List entry Number: 1017154

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Scarborough

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Hutton Buscel

County: North Yorkshire

District: Scarborough

District Type: District Authority

Parish: West Ayton

National Park: NORTH YORK MOORS

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 04-Aug-1933

Date of most recent amendment: 09-May-2001

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 33508

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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

Reasons for Designation

Regular aggregate field systems date from the Bronze Age (2000-700 BC) to the end of the fifth century AD. They usually cover areas of up to 100ha and comprise a discrete block of fields orientated in roughly the same direction, with the field boundaries laid out along two axes set at right angles to one another. Individual fields generally fall within the 0.1ha-3.2ha range and can be square, rectangular, long and narrow, triangular or polygonal in shape. The field boundaries can take various forms (including drystone walls or reaves, orthostats, earth and rubble banks, pit alignments, ditches, fences and lynchets) and follow straight or sinuous courses. Component features common to most systems include entrances and trackways, and the settlements or farmsteads from which people utilised the fields over the years have been identified in some cases. These are usually situated close to or within the field system. The development of field systems is seen as a response to the competition for land which began during the later prehistoric period. The majority are thought to have been used mainly for crop production, evidenced by the common occurrence of lynchets resulting from frequent ploughing, although rotation may also have been practised in a mixed farming economy. Regular aggregate field systems occur widely and have been recorded in south western and south eastern England, East Anglia, Cheshire, Cumbria, Nottinghamshire, North and South Yorkshire and Durham. They represent a coherent economic unit often utilised for long periods of time and can thus provide important information about developments in agricultural practices in a particular location and broader patterns of social, cultural and environmental change over several centuries. Those which survive well and/or which can be positively linked to associated settlements are considered to merit protection.

Although some of the earthwork boundaries have not survived, the field system on West Ayton Moor is in a good state of preservation. Significant information about the form and development of the field layout will survive. Important evidence for the type of agriculture practised and the contemporary environment and economy will survive in the lower ditch fills. Evidence for earlier land use will also survive beneath the field banks. The field system lies in an area where other field systems are known, which survive only as cropmarks on aerial photographs; as a monument with upstanding earthworks, this field system will preserve a range of evidence which the other sites have now lost. Round barrows are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. They were constructed as earthen mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often acted as a focus for burials in later periods. Often superficially similar, although differing widely in size, they exhibit regional variations in form and a diversity of burial practices. There are over 10,000 surviving examples recorded nationally (many more have already been destroyed), occurring across most of Britain, including the Wessex area where it is often possible to classify them more closely, for example as bowl or bell barrows. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape and their considerable variation of form and longevity as a monument type provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection. Prehistoric rock art is found on natural 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 and ring' marking, where expanses of small cup-like hollows are pecked 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'. Pecked lines or grooves can also exist in isolation from cup and ring decoration. 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. Frequently they are found close to contemporary burial monuments and the symbols are also found on portable stones placed directly next to burials or incorporated into burial mounds. Around 800 examples of prehistoric rock art have been recorded in England. This is unlikely to be a realistic reflection of the number carved in prehistory. Many will have been overgrown or destroyed in activities such as quarrying. All positively identified prehistoric rock art sites exhibiting a significant group of designs normally will be identified as nationally important. The Tabular Hills in the Wykeham Forest area contain a dense concentration of prehistoric monuments, dating from the Neolithic to the Iron Age, which includes field systems, enclosures and land boundaries as well as both round and square barrows. The spatial and chronological relationships between the round and square barrows in this area, and between both types of barrow and other prehistoric monuments, are of considerable importance for understanding the development of later prehistoric society in eastern Yorkshire. Despite limited disturbance, five of the seven round barrows have survived well. Significant information about their original form and the burials placed within them will be preserved. Evidence for earlier land use and the contemporary environment will also survive beneath the barrow mounds. The barrow known as Way Hagg is one of several which include decorated cup marked stones, distributed along the northern and eastern periphery of the North York Moors. As such it can be dated earlier than many similar barrows found on the central moorland.

History

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

Details

The monument includes a prehistoric regular aggregate field system and seven round barrows situated on level ground towards the northern edge of the Tabular Hills, in Wykeham Forest. It is in three separate areas of protection. The principal part of the field system is situated at the top of a steep slope which runs down to the River Derwent valley to the east. It is visible as two phases of laid out fields, and is orientated with its long axis predominantly north west to south east. The first phase consisted of at least five adjacent sub-rectangular fields, each measuring internally about 100m north east to south west by about 35m to 100m. The most northerly two of these are bounded by a ditch 1.5m wide and 0.3m-0.5m deep with an inner bank 1.5m-2m wide and standing up to 0.3m high. However, the remainder are no longer clearly defined as earthworks, having been truncated by the later phase or levelled by arable ploughing and forestry activities, although traces of the south west edge survive, recut as a post-medieval drainage ditch. The later phase of fields is evident as a realignment of the northern part of the field system, to run NNW to SSE on the east side of a trackway. The trackway was originally 12m wide and defined by a ditch on each side with a bank to the east. However, only the western of the two ditches survives at the north end of the field system, up to 2m wide and 0.4m deep with traces of the adjacent bank 2m wide and up to 0.3m high, and only the eastern ditch and bank survive further to the south, each 1.5m wide and up to 0.3m deep and 0.3m high. To the immediate north of the modern east to west field boundary which crosses the monument, both trackway boundaries survive as earthworks but the remainder have become infilled over the years or levelled by forestry activities and are no longer visible as earthwork features. At least two new fields were constructed during the later phase, measuring internally 80m-90m east to west and from 95m up to 170m north to south. The more northerly of these is visible at its north west corner, bounded by the trackway to the west and on its south side where it is defined by a bank up to 1.5m wide and 0.4m high with a ditch up to 1m wide and 0.2m deep to the north. The eastern boundary of both fields no longer survives as a clearly defined earthwork, the ditches having been recut as post-medieval drains associated with a trackway running NNW to SSE, although traces of a bank up to 1.5m wide and 0.2m-0.4m high are visible in places. A second post-medieval trackway runs WSW to ENE across the field system and a stone culvert carries the recut ditches of the eastern boundary underneath it. The southern boundary of the northern field continues beyond the eastern boundary as far as a break in slope; a similar parallel boundary consisting of a bank up to 2m wide and 0.3m high with a ditch 1.5m wide and 0.3m deep on its north side lies about 35m to the south, but does not extend as far to the west as the trackway. Fragments of other banks and ditches of similar dimensions are visible outside the main fields to the north east and south east. These would originally have defined additional fields of which all other traces have been destroyed by forestry activities and arable ploughing. Originally there were five round barrows in the main area of the field system. The first lies in the field at the south end of the field system and has been levelled by ploughing so that it is no longer visible as an earthwork. The eastern boundary of the field system trackway has turned to the west at this point to go around this barrow, which would have been upstanding when the field system was laid out. The second barrow lies 130m to the north west, outside the western edge of the earlier phase of the main field system. It has an earth and stone mound which measures 11m in diameter and stands up to 0.7m high. In the centre of the mound there is a hollow and several surface irregularities caused by partial excavation in the past. The mound is surrounded by a ditch up to 2m wide and 0.3m deep. The third barrow is situated 100m to the NNE of the second, but has been levelled by forestry activities and is no longer visible as an earthwork. About 120m to the ESE lies the most prominent of the five barrows, situated immediately outside the eastern boundary of the main field system between the two ditches which extend to the east. It is known as Way Hagg. The barrow has a well defined earth and stone mound measuring 11m in diameter and standing up to 1.3m high. In the centre of the mound there is a hollow caused by part excavation in 1848 by J Tissiman. Four stones decorated with cup marks were found within the mound, three of them covering a cremation within an urn. The mound is surrounded by a ditch up to 2m wide and 0.2m deep; to the south of the mound this has been recut as one of the field system ditches. The fifth barrow lies 55m to the south east of Way Hagg, also outside the eastern boundary of the field system. It has an earth and stone mound which measures 7m in diameter and stands up to 0.5m high. The surface is irregular as a result of partial excavation in the past. Associated with the main area of the field system there are two other areas of similar boundaries on the same alignment, which would also have defined fields belonging to the same overall system. The northern area lies 590m to the west of the main field system area. It consists of a bank which measures 1.5m-2m across and stands up to 0.4m high. The ground level is lower to the south east of the bank than to the north west. Originally the bank was at least 90m long but 20m at the eastern end have been levelled by forestry ploughing and are no longer visible as an earthwork. The southern area of associated boundaries lies 280m to the SSE of the northern and 235m south west of the main field system area. It consists of a ditch between two banks, each of which measures 1.5m across. The banks are up to 0.3m high and the ditch is up to 0.3m deep. The boundary is 150m long and there is a 6m wide opening 50m to the north west of the south eastern end. This would originally have been a field entrance. At its south eastern end the boundary turns to run towards the north east; this arm has largely been destroyed by forestry ploughing, although traces survive about 55m-70m away from the corner. At the north western end of the boundary, the western bank ends about 20m before the eastern. About 6m beyond the end of the eastern bank there is a 12m length of boundary running to the south west. It consists of a ditch 1.5m wide and up to 0.2m deep, between two banks each 1.5m-2m wide and 0.2m-0.3m high. The opening between this and the main north west to south east boundary would originally have been a field entrance. There are two round barrows at the eastern end of the most southern north east to south west arm of associated field system boundaries. The first is situated 7m to the south west of the eastern end of the boundary ditch. The second barrow is situated 15m to the north west, on the opposite side of the field system boundary. Both barrows have an earth and stone mound which measures 6m in diameter and stands up to 0.7m high. In the centre of each there is a hollow caused by partial excavation in the past. The mounds were originally surrounded by a ditch up to 2m wide but over the years these have become infilled by soil slipping from the mound so that they are no longer visible as earthwork features, although there is a slight depression around the northern and eastern sides of the south eastern barrow mound. The monument lies within a dense concentration of prehistoric burial monuments in an area which also includes the remains of prehistoric settlement and land division. The surfaced forestry track which runs east to west through the northern part of the main field system and the modern field boundaries which run north east to south west and north west to south east across the southern part of the main field system are 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.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Lee, G E, Wykeham Archaeological Survey, (1991)
Smith, M J B, Excavated Bronze Age Burial Mounds of Durham and N' land., (1994), 142
Smith, M J B, Excavated Bronze Age Burial Mounds of Durham and N' land., (1994)
Hayes, R H, 'North East Yorkshire studies: archaeological papers' in Small Square Or Rectilinear Enclosures In North East Yorkshire, (1988), 51-56
Spratt, D A , 'Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology in North East Yorkshire' in Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology of North East Yorkshire, , Vol. 87, (1993)
Other
3648.5,
Title: Ordnance Survey 25" sheet 77/13 Source Date: 1928 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: Ordnance Survey 25" sheet 77/14 Source Date: 1912 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

National Grid Reference: SE 95962 88449, SE 96056 88156, SE 96515 88367

Map

Map
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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This copy shows the entry on 17-Feb-2018 at 09:45:55.

End of official listing