Prehistoric dyke known as Horcum Dike

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020117

Date first listed: 20-Jul-2001

Map

Ordnance survey map of Prehistoric dyke known as Horcum Dike
© 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: Ryedale (District Authority)

Parish: Lockton

National Park: NORTH YORK MOORS

National Grid Reference: SE 84841 93020

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.

Although partly disturbed and reduced by agricultural activity, Horcum Dike remains identifiable and significant information about its original form and function will be preserved.

History

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

Details

The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of part of a prehistoric dyke known as Horcum Dike. It is located on the eastern side of the Hole of Horcum overlooking Levisham Moor to the west. It lies on the southern edge of the sandstone, predominantly 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. Both the prehistoric and medieval periods saw intensive use of the land for agricultural, industrial and ritual purposes. Remains of these activities survive today. In the early prehistoric period the area was predominantly covered with trees which were slowly cleared as human activity intensified. The cleared land was divided by substantial dykes into discrete territories. The dyke extends north to south for a total length of 1.5km from near to Saltergate Brow to the head of Black Griff. The northern 550m survives as an earthwork but the remainder has been reduced by agricultural activity and now survives as buried remains which are clearly visible on aerial photographs. The earthwork remains include a bank with a flanking ditch on the west side. The bank measures up to 4m in width and is 1m high and the ditch measures up to 2m wide and is 0.5m deep. At the northern end the dyke originally extended further north, however, its course has been obscured by later tracks, hollow ways and recent erosion and the full extent and nature of any remains are not yet clear. The dyke probably also originally extended further south but later landuse has obscured its course here. All fences posts 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.

Legacy

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

Legacy System number: 34814

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

Books and journals
Spratt, D A, Linear Earthworks of the Tabular Hills: North East Yorkshire, (1989)
Other
(1995)
Vyner, B, (2000)

End of official listing