Cross dyke 900m west of Backleys Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020534

Date first listed: 10-Oct-2001


Ordnance survey map of Cross dyke 900m west of Backleys Farm
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This copy shows the entry on 12-Dec-2018 at 02:43:38.


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

County: North Yorkshire

District: Scarborough (District Authority)

Parish: Darncombe-cum-Langdale End


National Grid Reference: SE 91856 90348


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 limited disturbance, the cross dyke 900m west of Backleys 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. Evidence for earlier land use will be preserved in the old ground surface beneath the banks. The eastern Tabular Hills is an area which has many networks of prehistoric land boundaries. These are thought to represent systems of territorial land division which were constructed to augment natural divisions of the landscape by river valleys and watersheds. The Dalby Forest and Scamridge areas have a particular concentration which is thought to have originated in the Late Neolithic or Early Bronze Age, earlier than most other prehistoric boundary systems on the Tabular Hills. The networks within this concentration, and many of their component boundaries, are notably complex and are of considerable importance for understanding the development of later prehistoric society in eastern Yorkshire. This cross dyke is part of the system of boundaries dividing the area between Troutsdale in the south and the scarp edge of the Tabular Hills in the north. Stratigraphic relationships between the components of the cross dyke will survive and will provide evidence for the sequence of construction and development of the boundary system.


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


The monument includes the surviving part of a cross dyke which is situated in Dalby Forest, towards the northern edge of the Tabular Hills. The cross dyke runs NNW to SSE across the ridge between Deep Dale and Freeze Gill. The cross dyke consists of two approximately parallel ditches, each of which runs between two banks of earth and stone. The banks are up to 4m wide and stand between 0.3m and 0.6m high. The ditches are also up to 4m wide and are between 0.7m and 1.7m deep, measured from the tops of their adjacent banks. Towards the north, the ditches have steep-sided profiles, but further south the cross dyke has been damaged by forestry activities so that the ditches are more open and rounded, and the banks are lower. Separating the two sets of ditches and banks there is a gap, which widens from 4m at the southern end to 8m at the northern end. Together the earthworks have an overall width of 28m-32m. The eastern ditch and banks terminate at their northern end at the top of the steep slope into Deep Dale. The western ditch and banks terminate 30m to the south of the eastern ditch, although the terminal has been slightly truncated by a forestry track which cuts through the cross dyke. Towards the southern end of the monument, the cross dyke has been breached by an old footpath. The surviving earthworks terminate at the southern end of the monument at a second forestry track; to the south of this track, the cross dyke was levelled by ploughing in the 19th century and subsequent forestry so that now there are no identifiable remains. The monument forms part of a network of prehistoric linear boundaries which are surrounded by many other prehistoric monuments, particularly burial sites. The surface of the forestry track crossing the northern part of the monument is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it 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: 34684

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Northern Archaeological Associates, , North York Moors Forest Survey Phase Two, (1996)
Spratt, D A, Linear Earthworks of the Tabular Hills: North East Yorkshire, (1989), 50-51
Title: Ordnance Survey 2nd Edition 25" sheet 76/12 Source Date: 1912 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing