Medieval dyke known as Green Dike


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


Ordnance survey map of Medieval dyke known as Green Dike
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

North Yorkshire
Scarborough (District Authority)
LCPs of Fylingdales and Hawsker-cum-Stainsacre
North Yorkshire
Scarborough (District Authority)
Stainton Dale
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
NZ 97000 00538

Reasons for Designation

Cross dykes are substantial linear earthworks, typically between 2.2km and 1km long and comprising one or more ditches arranged beside or parallel to one or more banks. They generally occur in upland situations, running across ridges and spurs. They are recognised as earthworks, as cropmarks on aerial photographs, or as combinations of both. The evidence of excavation and analogy with associated monuments demonstrates that the period of construction of many cross dykes spanned the millennium from the Middle Bronze Age. Others are known to have had a function in the Middle Ages; without excavation it is difficult to determine whether this indicates reuse of earlier dykes or the construction of new ones during the medieval period. Current information favours the view that they were used as boundary markers, probably demarcating some form of land allotment, although they may also have been used as trackways, cattle droveways or defensive earthworks. Cross dykes are one of the few monument types which indicate how land was divided up, whether in the prehistoric or medieval period. They are of considerable importance for the analysis of contemporary settlement and land use patterns. Relatively few examples have survived to the present day and hence all well preserved examples will merit statutory protection.

The medieval dyke known as Green Dike, survives well and significant evidence of its original form and function will survive. It offers important scope for the study of territorial boundaries from the prehistoric period through the medieval and beyond.


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a dyke, known as Green Dike, located on the eastern side of Howdale Moor overlooking the sea to the north. Also included are a pair of post-medieval boundary stones. The dyke is an early medieval estate boundary. It is thought to be one of the boundary dykes forming the eastern side of the medieval estate of Whitby Strand laid out in around AD 660 by Lady Hilda, the founding Abbess of Whitby Abbey. It is one of a series of boundary features in the area which divided the land into discrete territories. Some of these divisions have their origins in the prehistoric period and continued in use into the medieval period and beyond. The dyke was in use in the post-medieval period as an estate boundary as evidenced by the stone estate markers on the northern end of the dyke and to the south of the dyke at Three Lords' Stones. The latter pair of boundary stones lie beyond the surviving remains of the dyke and are not included in the scheduling. The use of the dyke as a territorial marker continues today as the parish boundary extends along the length of the dyke. Starting from a point 150m down the steeply sloping northern edge of the moor, the surviving remains of the dyke extend southwards for 250m then continue south for a further 980m across the eastern slope of the moor to terminate just short of the woodland plantation at Pye Rigg End. The dyke includes a single ditch with substantial flanking banks. The ditch is up to 3m wide and the current base is up to 2m below the top of the banks. The banks are up to 4m wide and 0.75m high. At the northern end the dyke originally continued northward down the slope and across the coastal shelf to the cliff edge 900m away but this section has been disturbed by 19th century alum quarrying and the extent and nature of any surviving remains is currently unknown. At the southern end, the dyke continued south to the head of Staintondale but this section has been disturbed by forestry and agricultural activity and the extent and nature of any surviving remains is currently unknown. The dyke is breached where the road from Ravenscar crosses it, however, the ditch survives below the road as a buried feature. The post-medieval boundary stones stand on the banks at the northern end of the dyke. One stone has the letter `D' carved upon it and the other has an equal armed cross. These boundary markers were probably, like others on the moors, erected after the 18th century enclosure acts. All fences, the stone wall extending along the dyke and the surface of the road are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Spratt, D A, Linear Earthworks of the Tabular Hills: North East Yorkshire, (1989), 65-68
Vyner, B, (2000)


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.

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