Horn Ridge cross dyke, cairnfield, round cairn and prehistoric hut circles


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Horn Ridge cross dyke, cairnfield, round cairn and prehistoric hut circles
© 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.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1019969 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 16-Oct-2019 at 05:27:35.


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

North Yorkshire
Ryedale (District Authority)
Farndale West
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
SE 66009 96306

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 end of the spur delineated by the cross dyke is also of archaeological importance, retaining a number of earthworks and associated buried remains. At its centre there is a round cairn, a prehistoric funerary monument which also dates to the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). Round cairns were constructed as stone mounds covering single or multiple burials and frequently acting as a focus for later secondary burials in the body of the cairn or as graves in the surrounding area. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major visual element in the modern landscape. Their considerable variation in form and longevity as a monument type provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. The area also includes at least two hut circles. These can take a variety of forms. Some are stone based and are visible as low walls or banks enclosing a circular floor area. Others were timber constructions and only the shallow groove in which the timber uprights used in the wall construction stood can now be identified; this may survive as a slight earthwork feature or may be visible on aerial photographs. Some can only be identified by the artificial earthwork platforms created as level stances for the houses. Those on Horn Ridge are of note because identified examples of hut circles on the North Yorkshire Moors are particularly rare. The cairnfield to the north west of the cross dyke also adds to the monument's importance. Cairnfields are concentrations of cairns sited in close proximity to one another. They often consist largely of clearance cairns, built with stone cleared from the surrounding land surface to improve its use for agriculture, and on occasion their distribution pattern can be seen to define field plots. However, funerary cairns are also frequently incorporated, although without excavation it may be impossible to determine which cairns contain burials. Clearance cairns were constructed from the Neolithic period (from c.3400 BC), although the majority of examples appear to be the result of field clearance which began during the earlier Bronze Age and continued into the later Bronze Age (2000-700 BC). The considerable longevity and variation in the size, content and associations of cairnfields provide important information on the development of land use and agricultural practices. As a group, the prehistoric remains on Horn Ridge are certainly of national importance with the cross dyke being a particularly fine example of its type.


The monument includes earthwork and associated buried remains of a group of prehistoric features on Horn Ridge. The earthworks include a cross dyke, a bank and ditch that crosses the spine of the ridge, an area of clearance cairns forming a cairnfield, a funerary round cairn, and at least two hut circles. The cross dyke, marked as an earthwork on the 1:10,000 map, is just over 250m long, curving gently from the south west to ENE. It is formed by a bank typically up to around 2m high and 4m-6m wide with a mainly silted up ditch on its northern side which is around 3m wide. A section of the dyke was excavated in 1959 which showed that the ditch was originally `U'-shaped in cross-section and varied in depth between 0.5m and 1.2m deep. This small scale excavation also showed that the bank was capped with boulders, some of which can still be seen on the earthwork's surface. The dyke is cut through in a number of places, most of which appear to be deliberate causeways which are thought to be original features that have since been enlarged by natural weathering. The cross dyke completely cuts off the end of the ridge which is sharply defined by steep slopes and cliffs outlining a fairly level area some 350m north west to south east and up to 250m wide. This whole area is regarded as of archaeological significance and retains several identifiable earthworks and will retain additional buried deposits. Towards the centre of this area, sited on a high point, is a funerary round cairn some 15m in diameter and 0.8m high. It is constructed mainly of stones typically 0.3m to 0.5m across, and has a central excavation hollow around 4m by 2m, with a second 1m diameter pit in its west side. The cairn has fine views across Farndale and over to Rudland Rigg to the west and is intervisible with both Obtrusch and Golden Heights round cairns to the south and west respectively. About 70m to the south of the cairn there is a well-preserved hut circle with an internal diameter of 3m formed by a low stoney bank. A second less obvious hut circle lies on the opposite side of the ridge about 80m to the east with a possible third example just to the north. Elsewhere within this area there are further low earthwork mounds and shallow depressions indicating additional archaeological remains. To the north west of the cross dyke there is a cairnfield, the north western part of which is labelled as a field system on the 1:10,000 map. This cairnfield lies mainly on a natural shelf on the south western side of the spine of the ridge, at the top of Hawthorn Crag and the sharp scarp down into West Gill to the south west. The cairns range considerably in size from little more than 2m in diameter and 0.2m high, up to just over 1m high and 8m in diameter. Although the cairns are scattered across the northern part of the monument, there are two main concentrations centred 400m and 250m north west of the south western end of the cross dyke. A hut circle has been recorded within the southern of these two concentrations and sections of walling have been noted to the north west. These and other low lying features are considered to be concealed by the vegetation. The cairns within about 200m of the cross dyke are small and very scattered. Most surface stone from this area is thought to have been added to the cross dyke's bank.

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:


Books and journals
McDonnell, J, A History of Helmsley Rievaulx and District, (1963), indexed


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

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].