Cross dyke in Cloughton Plantations, 550m and 890m north east of Gowland Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019772

Date first listed: 09-Mar-2001


Ordnance survey map of Cross dyke in Cloughton Plantations, 550m and 890m north east of Gowland Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Scarborough (District Authority)

Parish: Cloughton


National Grid Reference: SE 99619 96123, SE 99873 96347


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.

Despite some disturbance the cross dyke in Cloughton Plantations, 550m and 890m north east of Gowland Farm, has survived well. Important environmental evidence which can be used to date the cross dyke and determine contemporary land use will be preserved within the lowest ditch fills. At the south western end, the ditch is waterlogged and will preserve organic remains, which will yield a wider range of environmental evidence. Evidence for earlier land use will be preserved in the old ground surface beneath the banks. The lowest ditch fills of the levelled sections will also preserve valuable environmental evidence. This cross dyke is an unusual example of its type because it crosses two spurs of higher ground separated by a small valley. The cross dyke is associated with other prehistoric monuments including a settlement, field systems and barrows, and it is thought to represent a territorial boundary. Similar monument groups are known on the Tabular Hills to the south west and in the west and northern areas of the North York Moors. Such groupings offer important scope for the study of land division for social, ritual and agricultural purposes during the prehistoric period.


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


The monument includes a cross dyke which runs across a ridge of sandstone and Moor Grit at the eastern edge of the North York Moors. The A171 runs NNW to SSE across the monument and has destroyed this section of the dyke; the monument therefore is split into two separate areas of protection. The cross dyke starts at a stream head at the western end and runs in a north easterly direction across Harmer Brow into a shallow stream valley, then continues across a second spur of high ground and down into Morfar Dale at the eastern end. It has a steep-sided ditch which runs between two parallel earthen banks. To the west of the central stream valley, the ditch is up to 3m wide and 1.2m deep below the tops of the banks. At the south western end, the banks are up to 3m wide and stand 0.5m high. Further to the east, within the plantation, the banks are up to 3.5m wide but only 0.3m high; the north west bank has been largely levelled by forestry operations so that it is now no more than 0.2m high. For the last 50m down the steeper slope into the central stream valley the earthworks have also been levelled and are no longer visible, although their line is followed by a modern forestry drain. To the east of the central stream valley most of the earthworks have been almost levelled by forestry operations; only slight traces are visible on the level ground on the top of the ridge and on the lower part of the western slope into the stream valley. However, on the upper part of the western slope and on the eastern slope into Morfar Dale the ditch is visible up to 4m wide and 1m deep below the tops of the banks, which have a maximum width of 3.5m. The north western bank is poorly defined and shallow on the western slope, but the south eastern bank stands up to 0.5m high. In addition to the sections which have been levelled by forestry operations, there are a number of modern breaks in the cross dyke: a bridleway runs across at the top of the slope into Morfar Dale; a second bridleway which follows a forestry track snakes up the slope on the west side of the central stream valley, crossing the monument three times; a forestry track runs along the east side of the central stream, and there are two further breaks towards the western end, one 20m wide and one 7m wide. The cross dyke lies in an area where there are many other prehistoric monuments, including ritual and funerary monuments as well as a settlement, field systems and clearance cairns. Field boundary walls cross the monument alongside the A171 road and at the edge of the plantation towards the western end. These field boundary walls and the surfaced forestry tracks which cross the monument 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: 34564

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Spratt, D A, Linear Earthworks of the Tabular Hills: North East Yorkshire, (1989), 65-66

End of official listing