The Bar Dyke linear earthwork


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017508

Date first listed: 04-Aug-1933

Date of most recent amendment: 22-Dec-1997


Ordnance survey map of The Bar Dyke linear earthwork
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Sheffield (Metropolitan Authority)

Parish: Bradfield

National Park: PEAK DISTRICT

National Grid Reference: SK 24622 94606


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

Reasons for Designation

Cross dykes are substantial linear earthworks, typically between 2.2km and 1km long and comprising one or more ditches arranged beside or parallel to one or more banks. They generally occur in upland situations, running across ridges and spurs. They are recognised as earthworks, as cropmarks on aerial photographs, or as combinations of both. The evidence of excavation and analogy with associated monuments demonstrates that the period of construction of many cross dykes spanned the millennium from the Middle Bronze Age. Others are known to have had a function in the Middle Ages; without excavation it is difficult to determine whether this indicates reuse of earlier dykes or the construction of new ones during the medieval period. Current information favours the view that they were used as boundary markers, probably demarcating some form of land allotment, although they may also have been used as trackways, cattle droveways or defensive earthworks. Cross dykes are one of the few monument types which indicate how land was divided up, whether in the prehistoric or medieval period. They are of considerable importance for the analysis of contemporary settlement and land use patterns. Relatively few examples have survived to the present day and hence all well preserved examples will merit statutory protection.

The Bar Dyke is a well preserved example of an earthwork probably erected as a frontier defence either during the prehistoric or post-Roman periods. Few similar monuments, especially in the local region, survive in such good condition with as well defined features. Although the monument is as yet undated, it holds much potential archaeological evidence to increase understanding of such defensive or demarcatory systems. These are especially important to our knowledge of ancient boundary alignments in southern Yorkshire and in the wider context.


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


The monument includes a linear embankment and adjacent ditch to the north west known as the Bar Dyke, which form a composite earthwork oriented north east-south west. The monument is thought to belong to the Iron Age or post- Roman period. It is located in a prominent position chiefly in open moorland about 3km north west of, and overlooking, the village of Bradfield. The earthwork forms a line of demarcation across a break in a minor Millstone Grit scarp edge on the eastern side of Broomhead Moor. Part of the earthwork passes through a small area of semi-improved and enclosed pasture, whereas the remainder is located in unimproved moorland with a covering of heather. The total length of the embankment is approximately 400m and it is crossed by two narrow roads, leaving three sections of embankment of about 50m, 150m and 180m in length respectively from the south west end. It is not known when either of these roads came into existence, but it is possible that one of them existed when the earthworks were constructed. The embankment varies in width but is generally around 8m wide, with the ditch being about 7m wide at the top. The base of the ditch is no more than a metre or so wide. The south western section of the embankment stands to a maximum height of about 1.2m and appears to terminate in open moorland overlooking a stream, the Agden Dike, about 250m to the south. The adjacent ditch is faint in this section but it may have been filled by debris from a small quarry located to the immediate north west of this part of the embankment. The central section of the earthwork is very pronounced for about 50m at its south west end, where the embankment stands to a maximum height of 1.5m above ground level and with a deep ditch to the north west. The rise from the base of the ditch to the top of the embankment is in the region of 3.4m. This is one of the better preserved sections of the monument. To the north east, the earthwork is cut by a disused hollow way after which the embankment then becomes shallow, no more than about 0.5m high with only a slight depression for the ditch. At the north east end of this central section the embankment survives to a height of approximately 1.3m for its last 9m. The north east section of the monument is the longest at about 180m. To the immediate north east of the road the earthwork passes through semi-improved pasture for about 70m. Here the embankment survives but has been ploughed over causing the bank to slump and the ditch to become less well defined. However, the bank still survives to about 1m high in places. A drystone wall stands on top of the embankment forming a boundary between two fields, and similar enclosure walls cross the earthwork at right-angles at the south west and north east. North east of the enclosure the earthwork passes again through unimproved moorland where the embankment and ditch are well defined. The former stands to a height of about 1.4m with the distance from base of ditch to top of embankment approximately 2.7m. In this section it appears that the ditch may have been recut at some time: spoil from the latter can be seen on the north west side of the ditch. The earthwork ends abruptly at the edge of a steep slope which may well have been created or enhanced by more recent quarrying (now abandoned) to the north east of the monument. The monument remains undated but it is usually associated with defences erected during the post-Roman period. Several similar earthworks, often called 'dykes', exist in south western Yorkshire which are believed to have been built by native populations to curb the westerly advance of Anglo-Saxons during the 5th-7th centuries. Alternatively it is possible that the earthworks may have formed a demarcation or defensive measure between the Northumbrians and the Mercians at a slightly later date, possibly during the 7th century. However, there is the possibility that it dates from prehistoric times and may be Iron Age or even earlier. Where all of the minor disused tracks and hollow ways cross the earthwork, it is apparent that these post- date the monument. Excluded from scheduling are all stone walls, gates and gateposts, and the metalling of the roads, although the ground beneath is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 5 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: 29808

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Hey, D , The Making of South Yorkshire, (1979), 23
Michelmore, DJH, West Yorkshire: an Archaeological Survey to AD 1500, (1981), 172-5
Sidebottom, P (forthcoming), Stone Crosses of the Peak and the Sons of Eadwulf, 1997,

End of official listing