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Danby Rigg cairnfields, cross dykes, funerary monuments and associated features

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: Danby Rigg cairnfields, cross dykes, funerary monuments and associated features

List entry Number: 1018782

Location

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

County: North Yorkshire

District: Scarborough

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Danby

National Park: NORTH YORK MOORS

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 05-Jan-1971

Date of most recent amendment: 04-Feb-1999

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 30196

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

Danby Rigg has long been recognised as a well-preserved prehistoric landscape and has been the subject of a number of archaeological investigations over the years. It is one of the most extensive and complex of such landscapes known on the North York Moors, and retains valuable information about the early exploitation of the upland areas. The monument retains a wide range of well- preserved features, most of which are considered to be Bronze Age in date (2000-700 BC), although some, notably Double Dyke, are later. The cairnfield is the most extensive part of the monument. Prehistoric exploitation of the relatively thin upland soils led to erosion and an increasing amount of surface stone which was cleared into clearance cairns in an attempt to increase the amount of land available for farming. Typically, some of these cairns would have been used for cremation burials, and cairns frequently outlined small plots or fields. On Danby Rigg there are two forms of field system incorporated in the cairnfield. To the north of the central cross dyke, a number of cairns form lines or are incorporated into straight stony banks which make up a regular aggregate field system. This is characterised by boundaries aligned on two main axes at right-angles to each other. Excavations of similar sites have shown that they were often supplemented by fences or hedges to form small rectangular plots. To the south of the cross dyke, the banks and lines of cairns form sub-circular or irregular plots which are characteristic of an irregular aggregate field system. Examples of both arrangements of fields have been dated from the Bronze Age into the Roman period. The two field systems on Danby Rigg are considered to either demonstrate areas of differing exploitation, perhaps permanent pasture in one area with mixed arable and grazing in the other, or different periods of exploitation. The survival of these two field system forms adjacent to one another heightens the national importance of Danby Rigg. Few hut circles associated with field systems are known on the moors, where most permanent Bronze Age settlement is considered to have been in the adjacent dales, which has subsequently been obscured by later farming activity, so the identification of three hut circles is also of significance. Danby Rigg was also important in the Bronze Age for human burial, employing both round barrows and ring cairns. The cemetery is considered to have developed over a long period of time and will contain valuable information about the range and development of burial practices in the Bronze Age. Ring cairns, which are considered to be of Early to Middle Bronze Age in date, are nationally much rarer than round barrows, and the group on Danby Rigg is thus of especial importance. The pit alignment is of a type identified in 1993 and is one of only four examples known nationally, all of which lie within 15km of Danby Rigg. These features are poorly understood, but are believed to be related to funerary ritual as all are closely associated with burial mounds. Another interpretation is that they formed a type of boundary marker similar to other forms of pit alignments and the two cross dykes on the rigg. The northern cross dyke, like most on the North York Moors and elsewhere nationally, is considered to be Middle to Late Bronze Age and to have defined the boundary between two differing areas of land use. The more substantial Double Dyke is one of the very few archaeological remains on the North York Moors to be dated to the Viking period, suggesting that some of the other remains on the rigg may also be Dark Age in date which, because of their rarity, would be of particular national importance. The iron slag heap marking the location of the buried remains of one or more bloomeries may thus also date to the Viking period. Bloomeries were clay furnaces up to about 1m in diameter in which iron ore and charcoal was fired to produce iron and slag waste. The technology developed from the Iron Age through into the medieval period and was eventually replaced by the invention of the blast furnace. The waymark stones, marking the two medieval routeways, are good examples of their type.

History

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

Details

The monument includes the buried and earthwork remains of a predominantly Bronze Age landscape of farming and funerary activity occupying the northern end of Danby Rigg, also known as Ainthorpe Rigg, a promontory extending northwards from the main block of the North York Moors. The monument lies on land which rises southwards from about 230m above sea level to a plateau at 300m, and is defined to east and west by steep slopes down to the dales on either side. The remains of prehistoric farming activity are very extensive with a large number of stone clearance cairns across the rigg indicating two areas of field systems of different designs, partly laid out with low stony banks defining field boundaries. The funerary remains on the rigg include a round barrow cemetery, six ring cairns, together with a number of other scattered round barrows. Running across the spine of the rigg there are three linear features; two cross dykes and one pit alignment, the southern of the two cross dykes dating to the Viking period. The monument also includes a number of other remains that originate after the Bronze Age, including a bloomery for smelting iron and two paths marked by standing stones, which are thought to have been constructed in the medieval period. The archaeological features on Danby Rigg have been investigated by a number of people over the years. Canon Atkinson partly excavated two ring cairns in 1863, Elgee made a sketch plan of the area in 1930, Lamplough part excavated an enclosure along with two round barrows in 1955-58, and Aberg produced a plan of the banks in the 1960s. Between 1985 and 1989 the rigg was surveyed and subjected to a number of small-scale test excavations for a joint research project by Durham University and the Polish Academy of Sciences. In 1993 the pit alignment was surveyed in detail by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. The monument is divided into two areas by the northernmost cross dyke which runs ESE to WNW across the top of the rigg in line with Crossley Side and North End Farms. To the north of this cross dyke there is an extensive cairnfield containing in excess of 700 cairns typically 2m-4m in diameter and up to 1m high. These are the result of stone clearance in the Bronze Age to improve the land for farming. Some of the stone was also piled into low earth and stone banks which generally run in straight lines, either across the rigg, approximately east to west or along it, north to south. These banks, along with lines of clearance cairns, form the remains of a regular aggregate field system which probably originally incorporated fence and/or hedge lines. Some of these cairns are larger, 5m-10m in diameter, and show signs of more careful construction, being circular in plan and much more regular in appearance. These are concentrated in the south western part of the area to the north of the cross dyke where there is a group of around 30 mounds amongst a scatter of smaller cairns. This is considered to be a round barrow cemetery, with the mounds primarily functioning as burial mounds. Beyond this area there is a scatter of other isolated round barrows, the largest of which lies on the eastern edge of the plateau, 60m north of the cross dyke. This was excavated in 1955 by Lamplough, who found the remains of a number of cremation burials and other Bronze Age finds including parts of a copper alloy knife and four pottery vessels. Just to the east of the main concentration of round barrows, following a slightly curving line running north-south, there is a line of five ring cairns. These are burial monuments formed by a stony ring bank 11m-13m in diameter. The northernmost, which incorporates a standing stone, was excavated by Atkinson in 1863 and re-excavated in 1986-89. At the centre of the ring cairn there was a 1.7m by 1.1m pit containing two Bronze Age cremation urns and a large quantity of burnt bone. The stones of the ring bank were uncovered but not removed during the excavation and further archaeological remains are expected to survive underneath. All except the southernmost ring cairn are spaced at fairly regular intervals centred 140m-150m apart, with the last one 90m south of its neighbour. A sixth ring cairn lies 70m WNW of the neighbour of the southernmost cairn. This ring cairn, which is not on the same alignment as the rest, occupies the skyline when viewed from the dale to the west. It is larger than the others, 17m in diameter, and lies on the southern side of the round barrow cemetery. Aligned with the southern side of this ring cairn is a segmented embanked pit alignment which runs in four sections across the rigg. Each section is formed by two to three pairs of equally spaced pits with banks to the north and south. Running roughly parallel with the pit alignment is the northern of the two cross dykes. This is a low bank 2m-4m wide and up to 1m high which runs across the rigg. It has an intermittent ditch on its southern side and a 70m gap towards the middle of its length. At about the centre of this gap, which is considered to be an original feature, is the southernmost of the line of five ring cairns. The southern part of the monument falls to the south of this cross dyke, and to the north of the second cross dyke, known as Double Dyke, and three outlying cairns. Double Dyke and the outlying cairns form the southern boundary of the monument. This area is very different in nature to the northern part of the monument. Except within about 20m-30m of the two cross dykes, there is a large quantity of uncleared surface stone. There are clearance cairns, but these are much more infrequent than in the northern part of the monument with only about 70-80 cairns, seven of which are over 4m in diameter. The area also includes low stony banks, but these are generally curving and, together with alignments of cairns, can be seen to form the remains of an irregular aggregate field system in contrast to the more rectangular fields of the regular aggregate field system to the north. Approximately halfway between the two cross dykes there is an oval ring bank which has been identified as the second ring cairn excavated by Atkinson in 1863. However it was excavated in 1956 by Lamplough, who found no evidence of the central pit recorded in the previous century. Instead it is now considered to be one of the enclosures of the field system. The survey in the 1980s identified three features interpreted as hut circles between this enclosure and the northern cross dyke. These are considered to be stone footings of small buildings 4m-5m in diameter. Further dispersed settlement remains are considered to have been obscured by a covering of peat which is thought to have started developing on the rigg in the later prehistoric period. Double Dyke forms the southern boundary of the monument except on the eastern side of the plateau, where three cairns lying 20m-25m beyond the cross dyke mark the southern boundary. The three cairns are included in the scheduling. No other archaeological features are known on the rigg to the south of Double Dyke apart from the three outlying cairns to the south east of Double Dyke, until Pind Howe round barrow 1km further south. Double Dyke is of a much larger scale than the cross dyke to the north. It is in two principal straight sections that meet at a slight angle. The eastern section is formed by a pair of banks, with a ditch in between, which runs ESE to WNW for about 120m and includes a deliberate break towards its eastern end. The western section has three parallel banks separated by ditches and runs south east to north west for 200m. There is a gap between the two sections and both terminate at right angles to the steep slopes to the east and west respectively. A 2m wide trench was excavated through the triple banked part of the cross dyke in 1986 which produced charcoal samples from the ditches. The two northern ditches were radiocarbon dated to the early medieval period, and the southern ditch to the 9th-10th century AD. There are other features on the rigg that are considered to be later in date than the predominantly Bronze Age landscape. Some 300m beyond the northern cross dyke on the eastern side of the plateau there is a heap of iron slag surrounded by shallow pits dug to extract iron ore-bearing stone. This area also includes the buried remains of one or more bloomeries, small furnaces for smelting iron which were used from the Iron Age through into the medieval period. Crossing the rigg 20m to the north of the slag heap there is a wall line that is very different in nature to the others in the field system. It is built of orthostats, a single line of large boulders set on end, and extends partly down the steep slope to the east. The rigg is also crossed by two medieval footpaths marked by waymark stones which are typically set at 80m intervals. Both start at Slate Hill at the head of Little Fryup Dale. Church Way runs over the rigg to the church in Danby Dale, whilst Old Wives Stones Way runs up onto the rigg and then down its spine to Ainthorpe, past the northernmost ring cairn which incorporates the standing stone. The waymark stones are of undressed stone and typically 0.2m-0.3m square, standing around 1.5m high. Excluded from the scheduling are three grouse butts built into the southern side of Double Dyke, and the modern timber waymark posts, although the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Smith, M J B, Excavated Bronze Age Burial Mounds of Durham and N' land., (1994), 67-68
Harding, A F, Ostoja-Zagorski, J, 'Archaeological Journal' in Prehistoric and Early Medieval Activity on Danby Rigg, N Yorks, , Vol. 151, (1994), 27-8
Harding, A F, Ostoja-Zagorski, J, 'Archaeological Journal' in Prehistoric and Early Medieval Activity on Danby Rigg, N Yorks, , Vol. 151, (1994), 18
Harding, A F, Ostoja-Zagorski, J, 'Archaeological Journal' in Prehistoric and Early Medieval Activity on Danby Rigg, N Yorks, , Vol. 151, (1994), 73-82
Harding, A F, Ostoja-Zagorski, J, 'Archaeological Journal' in Prehistoric and Early Medieval Activity on Danby Rigg, N Yorks, , Vol. 151, (1994), 23-24
Harding, A F, Ostoja-Zagorski, J, 'Archaeological Journal' in Prehistoric and Early Medieval Activity on Danby Rigg, N Yorks, , Vol. 151, (1994), 25
Harding, A F, Ostoja-Zagorski, J, 'Archaeological Journal' in Prehistoric and Early Medieval Activity on Danby Rigg, N Yorks, , Vol. 151, (1994), 37-40
Harding, A F, Ostoja-Zagorski, J, 'Archaeological Journal' in Prehistoric and Early Medieval Activity on Danby Rigg, N Yorks, , Vol. 151, (1994), 57-65
Harding, A F, Ostoja-Zagorski, J, 'Archaeological Journal' in Prehistoric and Early Medieval Activity on Danby Rigg, N Yorks, , Vol. 151, (1994), 45-47
Harding, A F, Ostoja-Zagorski, J, 'Archaeological Journal' in Prehistoric and Early Medieval Activity on Danby Rigg, N Yorks, , Vol. 151, (1994), 30-31
Harding, A F, Ostoja-Zagorski, J, 'Archaeological Journal' in Prehistoric and Early Medieval Activity on Danby Rigg, N Yorks, , Vol. 151, (1994), 49-69
Harding, A F, Ostoja-Zagorski, J, 'Archaeological Journal' in Prehistoric and Early Medieval Activity on Danby Rigg, N Yorks, , Vol. 151, (1994), 29
Harding, A F, Ostoja-Zagorski, J, 'Archaeological Journal' in Prehistoric and Early Medieval Activity on Danby Rigg, N Yorks, , Vol. 151, (1994), 26
Harding, A F, Ostoja-Zagorski, J, 'Archaeological Journal' in Prehistoric and Early Medieval Activity on Danby Rigg, N Yorks, , Vol. 151, (1994), 49-52
Harding, A F, Ostoja-Zagorski, J, 'Archaeological Journal' in Prehistoric and Early Medieval Activity on Danby Rigg, N Yorks, , Vol. 151, (1994), 32-44
Harding, A F, Ostoja-Zagorski, J, 'Archaeological Journal' in Prehistoric and Early Medieval Activity on Danby Rigg, N Yorks, , Vol. 151, (1994), 31-32
Harding, A F, Ostoja-Zagorski, J, 'Archaeological Journal' in Prehistoric and Early Medieval Activity on Danby Rigg, N Yorks, , Vol. 151, (1994)
Lofthouse, C A, 'Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society' in Segmented Embanked Pit Alignments in the North York Moors, , Vol. 59, (1993), 383-392

National Grid Reference: NZ 70922 06384

Map

Map
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