Length of Grim's Ditch extending 1.4km from a point 70m south of Cotton Road East to the south east corner of Avenue Wood


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Date first listed:
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Ordnance survey map of Length of Grim's Ditch extending 1.4km from a point 70m south of Cotton Road East to the south east corner of Avenue Wood
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Leeds (Metropolitan Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SE 37510 31981

Reasons for Designation

The West Yorkshire Grim's Ditch is a linear earthwork consisting of a substantial bank with a deep, rock-cut ditch on its east side. It lies to the east of Leeds, and the known remains extend northwards for approximately 3.5 km, from just north of the River Aire at Gamblethorpe Farm, Swillington, to Cock Beck on Whinmoor. Less definite evidence suggests that the earthwork survives further south to the River Aire, and north beyond Cock Beck. Grim's Ditch still survives in several places as a visible earthwork. The most likely context for the construction of Grim's Ditch has always been thought to be as a defence for the British kingdom of Elmet, and in particular its major centre, Leeds, against the advance of the Anglo-Saxons in the early 7th century AD. However, preliminary results from excavations of a section of Grim's Ditch at Colton suggest that the ditch was open during the Roman period. Both the bank and ditch can be seen for most of a 1.8 km stretch, extending from the A1-M1 link road at the south edge of Avenue Wood, Temple Newsam, to the A63 at Colton. Lengths of ditch are also visible at Gamblethorpe Farm, and at the base of a scarp south of Barrowby Road, Austhorpe. The remaining known course of Grim's Ditch is not a visible earthwork, but it has been located by means of excavation and geophysical survey. The size and extent of Grim's Ditch implies a considerable expenditure of time and labour, and also suggests a degree of social organisation at the time of its construction. All known lengths of Grim's Ditch, where significant archaeological deposits are likely to survive are considered to be nationally important.

The length of Grim's Ditch between Cotton Road East and Avenue Wood is the best preserved stretch of Grim's Ditch and significant archaeological information will be preserved.


The monument includes a length of the linear earthwork known as Grim's Ditch extending 1.4km from a point 70m south of Cotton Road East to the south east corner of Avenue Wood. The monument consists of a bank and ditch clearly visible for much of the length of this section of the Ditch.

In Avenue Wood the bank is typically 10m wide, attaining a height of approximately 1m in the northern half of the wood. South of The Avenue, the bank is smaller, and measures about 9m in width and 0.4m in height. In Avenue Wood the ditch is less distinct than the bank, but its course can be traced. North of The Avenue it shows as a linear dip approximately 4.5m wide, but the east edge is obscured by Bullerthorpe Lane. South of The Avenue, the ditch is beneath Bullerthorpe Lane and a surfaced path.

For most of the distance between Avenue Wood and the housing estate at Colton, Grim's Ditch is followed by a hedge. This occupies the scarp between the bank and the ditch. From a point 70m north of the wood to a few metres south of the housing estate, the ditch is clearly visible.

The bank has been spread and flattened by ploughing in most of this area north of Avenue Wood, and it is approximately 15m wide, forming a broad crest west of the hedge. North of the access road to a carpark, a short stretch of unploughed bank survives to a width of approximately 10m and a height of 1.5m. Approximately 65m south of the housing estate at Colton, the bank disappears as a surface feature. A new housing estate, unmarked on the map extract, now occupies the north east corner of land defined by the junction of Colton Road East and Bullerthorpe Lane. Excavations prior to this housing development proved that both bank and ditch survived as buried features. They have since been reburied and preserved within the layout of the housing development, but the excavations demonstrated that significant archaeological deposits still survive on the east edge of the housing estate. These infilled remains are included in the scheduling.

All walls, fences, road and path surfacings 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.


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Site 7, WYAS, A1-M1 Link Road, (1996)


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

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