The Moor Dikes and Craddlegrip Dike prehistoric linear boundaries and other prehistoric remains in Wykeham Forest
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- North Yorkshire
- Scarborough (District Authority)
- Hutton Buscel
- North Yorkshire
- Scarborough (District Authority)
- West Ayton
- National Park:
- NORTH YORK MOORS
- National Grid Reference:
- SE 96079 86875
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.
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 or rubble 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. Square barrows are funerary monuments of the Middle Iron Age, mostly dating from the period between c.500 BC and c.50 BC. The majority of these monuments are found between the Humber Estuary and the southern slopes of the North York Moors, but a wider distribution has also been identified, principally through aerial photography, spreading through the river valleys of the Midlands and south Essex. Around 200 square barrow cemeteries have been recorded; in addition, a further 250 sites consisting of single barrows or small groups of barrows have been identified. Square barrows were constructed as earthen mounds surrounded by a ditch and covering one or more bodies. Slight banks around the outer edge of the ditch have been noted in some examples. Despite the term 'square', barrows can vary in shape. The majority are truly square, although many have rounded corners and some are more rectangular in plan. A few, however, occurring both in square barrow cemeteries and individually, are actually round in plan, but distinguishable from earlier Bronze Age round barrows by their smaller size. The main burial is normally central and carefully placed in a rectangular or oval grave pit, although burials placed on the ground surface below the mound are also known. A number of different types of burials have been identified, accompanied by grave goods which vary greatly in range and type. The most elaborate include the dismantled parts of a two-wheeled vehicle placed in the grave with the body of the deceased. Some Iron Age barrows have been associated with an unusual burial ritual of 'spearing the corpse'. Ploughing and intensive land use since prehistoric times have eroded and levelled most square barrows and very few remain as upstanding monuments, although the ditches and the grave pits, with their contents, will survive beneath the ground surface. The different forms of burial and the variations in the type and range of artefacts placed in the graves provide important information on the beliefs, social organisation and material culture of these Iron Age communities and their development over time. All examples of square barrows which survive as upstanding earthworks, and a significant proportion of the remainder, are considered to be of national importance and worthy of protection. The North York Moors is an area which has an abundance of prehistoric remains particularly within moorland landscapes where they have not been disturbed by more recent agricultural activity. These are evidence for the widespread exploitation of these uplands throughout prehistory. Many remains date from the Bronze Age (c. 2000-700 BC) and relate to diverse activities, funerary and ritual practice as well as agriculture and settlement. For the first millennium BC the range of evidence is more restricted. Settlement at this time was concentrated in the lowland areas surrounding the moors, although some settlement was located on the periphery and in the valleys. These late prehistoric settlement sites on the higher ground are of two types: those consisting of a small number of unenclosed hut circles and those found within small square or sub-rectangular enclosures. Some examples of the former are thought to date from the Bronze Age, but excavation of others and of a few of the enclosed settlements suggests that they were occupied during the Iron Age to the Romano-British period (c.700 BC-AD 400). A number of late prehistoric enclosed settlements on the North York Moors survive as upstanding monuments and these are between 0.1 and 0.5ha in area. The enclosing earthworks are usually slight and consist of a ditch with an internal bank, but examples are known with an external and internal bank and with an internal ditch or no ditch at all. They are square or sub-rectangular in shape and often have at least two rounded corners, giving a characteristic `D'-shape. Few of these enclosed settlements have been subject to systematic excavation but examples which have been excavated have presented evidence of settlement, including the presence of buildings. Some of the enclosures may also have a function as stock enclosures. Enclosed settlements are a distinctive feature of the late prehistory of the North York Moors and are important in illustrating the variety of enclosed settlement types which developed in many areas of Britain at this time. Examples where a substantial proportion of the enclosed settlement survives are considered to be nationally important. Hut circle settlements were the dwelling places of prehistoric farmers. The hut circles took a variety of forms. Some are stone based and are visible as low walls or banks enclosing a circular floor area. Others were timber constructions and only the shallow groove in which the timber uprights used in the wall construction stood can now be identified; this may survive as a slight earthwork feature or may be visible on aerial photographs. Some can only be identified by the artificial earthwork platforms created as level stances for the houses. The number of houses in a settlement varies from between one and twelve. In areas where they were constructed on hillslopes the platforms on which the houses stood are commonly arrayed in tiers along the contour of the slope. Several settlements have been shown to be associated with organised field plots, the fields being defined by low stony banks or indicated by groups of clearance cairns. Some unenclosed settlements are thought to date from the Bronze Age, but excavation of others suggests that they were also occupied during the Iron Age to the Romano-British period (c.700 BC-AD 400). These settlements provide an important complement to the various types of enclosed and defended settlements which were being constructed and used around the same time. The longevity of use of hut circle settlements and their relationship with other monument types provides important information on the diversity of social organisation and farming practices amongst prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection. 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 very large number of burial monuments includes particularly rare examples of square barrows surviving as upstanding earthworks, and these will preserve a range of evidence within and upon the flat topped mounds which does not survive on the plough flattened examples elsewhere. These square barrows form an important group of this monument type which will provide valuable insight into cultural development during the Iron Age. The spacial and chronological relationships between the round and square barrows in the Wykeham Forest 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, the Moor Dikes and Craddlegrip Dike and other prehistoric remains survive well. Significant information will be preserved about their date, original form and the nature and duration of their use. Unlike many other barrows in this area, several of those within the Iron Age barrow cemetery have not been excavated and their archaeological deposits will survive intact. Flat graves will also survive in the areas between the barrows within the cemetery. Evidence for earlier land use and the contemporary environment and economy will be preserved beneath the different banks and within the lower fills of the various ditches. The bottom of Yedman Dale will contain waterlogged deposits which will also preserve important environmental evidence. The Moor Dikes and the Craddlegrip Dike belong to a network of prehistoric boundaries, dividing the area between Troutsdale in the west and the Derwent valley in the east. It is thought to represent a system of territorial land division which was constructed to augment natural divisions of the landscape by river valleys and watersheds. It is one of many such groups found on the Tabular Hills, but it is the only instance where there are stratigraphic relationships with associated groups of features which can be used to date the boundaries. The relationships between the individual boundaries and between the boundaries and the other components of the monument will provide valuable insight into the division and use of the landscape for social, ritual and agricultural purposes during the later prehistoric period.
The monument includes three prehistoric linear boundaries situated in Wykeham Forest, towards the northern edge of the Tabular Hills. Also included are a round barrow, an Iron Age barrow cemetery, an enclosed prehistoric settlement, an unenclosed hut circle settlement, two stock enclosures, four square barrows and a pair of hollow ways, all of which are appended to, or adjacent to, the dikes. The north Moor Dike runs WSW to ENE between the valleys of Bee Dale and Yedman Dale. It consists of a steep sided ditch running between two parallel banks of earth and stone, which has an overall maximum width of 16m. At the west end the northern bank has been almost levelled by forestry activities. At the east end there were originally a pair of `L'-shaped parallel banks with a ditch between on the south side of the dike and associated with it. Over the years these have become segmented by footpaths crossing them and truncated by ploughing at the edge of the field to the west, but fragments of the eastern bank survive and traces of the ditch are visible at the north end. There are a number of modern breaks in the boundary: the Great Moor Road passes through the centre in a north to south direction and four forestry tracks, now disused, cross the boundary in the same direction, two on each side of the Great Moor Road. To the west of the Great Moor Road, several modern drainage ditches also cut through both banks. On the north side of the north Moor Dike, at the extreme western end, there is a cemetery of Iron Age round and square barrows which also includes a Bronze Age round barrow at the western end. The latter barrow has an earth and stone mound which stands up to 0.8m high. It is oval in shape and measures 8m east to west by 6m north to south. In the centre of the mound there is a hollow caused by partial excavation in the past. The remainder of the cemetery contains nine barrows in an approximately linear arrangement aligned on the Moor Dike. The barrows measure between 4m and 8m across and stand between 0.3m and 0.7m high. Two of the barrows have hollows in the centre from past excavations, but the remainder have not been excavated. Between the barrows there will be flat graves, which will survive as subsoil features and are not visible above the ground. Adjoining the south side of the north Moor Dike to the east of the cemetery there is an enclosed settlement. It is visible as a rectilinear enclosure aligned north west to south east at an oblique angle to the dike and measuring about 60m north east to south west by between 40m and 60m. The enclosure is defined on the western and southern sides by a ditch between two banks. There is a 1m wide entrance in the southern side. The south eastern corner and the eastern side are no longer visible as distinct earthworks, having been levelled by forestry activities, although slight traces of the inner bank survive. Within the enclosed area there is at least one hut circle, visible as a 6m wide circle enclosed by a slight depression along the line of its surrounding ditch. The settlement enclosure was constructed after the Moor Dike since the enclosure ditch cuts the southern bank of the dike. An unenclosed hut circle settlement lies immediately outside the enclosed settlement on the east side. Originally there were at least four hut circles, but only three are visible now, the remainder having been eroded or levelled by forestry activities. The surviving hut circles are visible as penannular ditches with entrances in the east side, surrounding a central area of 7m-8m. Around the outer edges of the ditches there are traces of banks. Adjoining the north side of the north Moor Dike at the eastern end is an irregular enclosure, measuring internally approximately 330m east to west by 170m north to south, which is interpreted as a stock enclosure. It is bounded on its eastern side by the bottom of Yedman Dale, along which now runs a post-medieval drainage ditch, and to the north and west by a ditch with an external bank. The northern side runs roughly parallel to the Moor Dike. In places either the ditch or the bank, or both, are no longer visible as earthworks, since the ditch has become infilled by soil slipping from the bank or the bank has been levelled by forestry activities. The enclosure was constructed after the Moor Dike since the enclosure ditch cuts the northern bank of the dike. Within the large enclosure, at the east end and adjoining the north Moor Dike, there is a smaller sub-rectangular enclosure, which is also interpreted as a stock enclosure. Internally it measures 25m east to west by 20m north to south. On the west, north and east sides it is defined by a bank with an external ditch. There is a 1m wide entrance in the east side. The enclosure was also constructed after the north Moor Dike since the enclosure ditch cuts the northern bank of the dike. The Craddlegrip Dike runs in a north west to south east direction along the sloping east side of Yedman Dale, a little above the bottom of the valley. At the southern end it stops at the point where the valley slope begins to become very steep. The boundary consists of a ditch with an earth and stone bank to the west and has an overall maximum width of 12m. Towards the north end of the boundary there is an opening; to the north of the opening the boundary originally turned westwards to run towards the bottom of the valley approximately opposite the eastern end of the north Moor Dike. However, the corner has been truncated by post-medieval hollow ways and only the outer edge of the ditch is visible now, although both the bank and ditch survive for 30m beyond the corner. To the west of the corner there is an earthen bank, which runs in a northerly direction from the northern ditch edge before curving to the north east and this would have been a subsidiary part of the boundary. Originally this continued for at least 50m after the bend but only 30m is visible now, the remainder having been truncated by forestry activities. At the south end of the dike there are two further openings. The southern opening is about 30m wide and to the south of this, the bank has a more stony composition. A pair of hollow ways join and pass through the more northerly opening. The hollow ways run up the slope to the east of the dike in a NNE and ESE direction respectively. There are two square barrows immediately to the north of the pair of hollow ways, situated on the gentle west facing slope down to the Craddlegrip Dike. The first is situated 20m to the west of the northern end of the northern hollow way and the second is situated 55m to the north east of the first. Both barrows have flat topped earth and stone mounds which are almost square in plan, with sides 7m in length, orientated north to south. The western barrow mound stands up to 0.7m high and the eastern stands up to 1m high. Both were originally surrounded by a ditch up to 2m wide; the ditch around the eastern barrow mound has become infilled over the years by soil slipping from the mound and is no longer visible as an earthwork, but that around the western barrow mound survives up to 0.3m deep. Both mounds have a hollow in the centre, which is the result of partial excavation in the past. About 150m to the SSE of the two square barrows there is a second pair of square barrows, both situated at the top of the west facing slope down to the Craddlegrip Dike. The first barrow is situated 30m to the east of the dike edge and the second is situated 20m to the south of the first. Both barrows have flat topped earth and stone mounds which are almost square in plan, orientated north to south. The northern barrow mound has a side 7m in length and stands up to 1m high, and the southern has a side of 9m in length and stands up to 1m high. Both were originally surrounded by a ditch up to 2m wide; the ditch around the northern barrow mound has become infilled in over the years by soil slippage and is only visible as a shallow depression to the north and west, but that around the southern barrow mound survives up to 0.3m deep. Both mounds have a hollow in the centre, which is the result of partial excavation in the past. The south Moor Dike lies about 700m to the south of the north Moor Dike on approximately the same alignment. At the western end it terminates just below the top of the slope into Bee Dale while at the eastern end it continues up the slope beyond the bottom of Yedman Dale as far as the Craddlegrip Dike. Originally it consisted of a ditch between two parallel banks of earth and stone, which had an overall maximum width of 16m, but over the years it has become segmented and damaged by ploughing to the west of the Great Moor Road and by a forestry track to the east, so that in the field to the west of the Great Moor Road only the southern edge of the southern bank survives and in the central section only the northern bank survives. At the east end both banks survive but the overall profile of the boundary has been modified by a forestry track which runs along the line of the ditch. The monument forms part of a network of prehistoric linear boundaries which is surrounded by a dense concentration of other prehistoric monuments, including burials and settlement. The Great Moor Road and all other surfaced tracks, all fence posts, all field boundary walls and the two stone bridges carrying tracks across the base of Yedman Dale are 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.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Lax, A, The Moor Dike, Wykeham Forest. Archaeological survey report, (1996)
Lee, G E, Wykeham Archaeological Survey, (1991)
Spratt, D A, Linear Earthworks of the Tabular Hills: North East Yorkshire, (1989), 54-59
Hayes, R H, 'North East Yorkshire studies: archaeological papers' in Small Square Or Rectilinear Enclosures In North East Yorkshire, (1988), 51-56
Mytum, H, 'Moorland Monuments' in Iron Age square barrows on the North York Moors, , Vol. 101, (1995), 31-37
Title: 2nd Edition Ordnance Survey 25" sheet 77/13 Source Date: 1928 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
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