Prehistoric cross dyke 980m west of Foulsike Farm including a standing stone known as Old Wife's Neck

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019754

Date first listed: 12-Jul-1934

Date of most recent amendment: 02-Oct-2001

Map

Ordnance survey map of Prehistoric cross dyke 980m west of Foulsike Farm including a standing stone known as Old Wife's Neck
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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Location

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Scarborough (District Authority)

Parish: LCPs of Fylingdales and Hawsker-cum-Stainsacre

National Park: NORTH YORK MOORS

National Grid Reference: NZ 90339 02179

Summary

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

Reasons for Designation

Cross dykes are substantial linear earthworks typically between 0.2km and 1km long and comprising one or more ditches arranged beside and parallel to one or more banks. They generally occur in upland situations, running across ridges and spurs. They are recognised as earthworks or as cropmarks on aerial photographs, or as combinations of both. The evidence of excavation and analogy with associated monuments demonstrates that their construction spans the millennium from the Middle Bronze Age, although they may have been re-used later. Current information favours the view that they were used as territorial boundary markers, probably demarcating land allotment within communities, although they may also have been used as trackways, cattle droveways or defensive earthworks. Cross dykes are one of the few monument types which illustrate how land was divided up in the prehistoric period. They are of considerable importance for any analysis of settlement and land use in the Bronze Age. Very few have survived to the present day and hence all well- preserved examples are considered to be of national importance.

The cross dyke survives well and significant information about its original construction and function will be preserved. The standing stones provide important evidence of the history and development of the boundary and offer scope for the understanding of the division of land in the prehistoric period.

History

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

Details

The monument includes earthwork and buried remains of a prehistoric cross dyke and a series of standing stones standing on the dyke, one of which is known as Old Wife's Neck. The monument is located on the southern part of Sneaton Low Moor. This lies at the eastern side of the sandstone, heather covered moor characteristic of the North York Moors. Today the moor is little used but archaeological evidence indicates that this has not always been the case. The prehistoric period in particular saw extensive use of the area for burials and agriculture. Remains of these activities survive today. The dyke extends east to west across a spur of land formed by the steep slope of Iburdale to the west, a marshy area called Grey Heugh Slack to the east and Biller Howe Dale to the south. The dyke includes a series of banks and ditches up to 40m wide and 780m in length. There are three parallel ditches up to 12m apart. The two outer ditches have an earth and stone built bank along each side and the central ditch has a bank on its northern side. The ditches range in size from 3m to 5m in width and are up to 1m deep. The banks are up to 5m wide and up to 0.5m in height. It was recorded in the 19th century that the most southerly bank had at some time been faced with stone slabs, although no trace of these now survive. There is a gap, 150m long, in the line of the earthworks 250m from the west end; the reason for this gap is currently not known. There are further minor breaks and irregularities elsewhere which may be partly due to 20th century military activity, as it is known that this area of the moor was used for military training. At least seven small standing stones survive along the length of the earthworks. These stones are mostly located on the outer banks of the dyke. In common with similar monuments on the North York Moors it is thought these stones were part of an alignment of stones extending east to west as a precursor to the dyke. This alignment of stones was later incorporated into the substantial earthworks of the dyke. The largest of the standing stones, known as Old Wife's Neck, is located at the southern edge of the dyke complex and towards its western end. It stands 0.75m above ground level and is 0.70m wide by 0.20m thick. The name comes from the profile which can be seen to resemble a woman's head. Old maps show that a large number of tumuli lay to the immediate north and south of the dyke. These are no longer clearly identifiable and thus their nature and relationship with the dyke is not yet fully understood.

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.

Legacy

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

Legacy System number: 34406

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

Books and journals
Elgee, F, Early Man in NE Yorkshire, (1930), 158
Elgee, F, Early Man in NE Yorkshire, (1930), 157-158
Spratt, D A, Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology of North East Yorkshire, (1994), 111-122
Vyner, B E, 'CBA Research Report 101: Moorland Monuments' in The Brides Of Place: Cross-Ridge Boundaries Reviewed, (1995), 16-31
Vyner, B E, 'CBA Research Report 101: Moorland Monuments' in The Brides Of Place: Cross-Ridge Boundaries Reviewed, (1995), 16-31

End of official listing