Part of a cross dyke with associated warrening features, 850m south east of High Rigg Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020651

Date first listed: 24-Apr-2002


Ordnance survey map of Part of a cross dyke with associated warrening features, 850m south east of High Rigg Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Ryedale (District Authority)

Parish: Thornton-le-Dale


National Grid Reference: SE 86992 88223


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.

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. Despite limited disturbance, this cross dyke 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. A warren is an area of land set aside for the breeding and management of rabbits or hares in order to provide a constant supply of fresh meat and skins. Although the hare is an indigenous species, the tradition of warren construction and use dates from the 12th century, following the introduction of rabbits into England from the continent. Many warrens were enclosed by a bank, hedge or wall intended to contain and protect the stock. Other features associated with the warren include vermin traps (usually a dead-fall mechanism within a small tunnel), and more rarely traps for the warren stock (known in Yorkshire as `types') which could contain the animals unharmed and allow for selective culling. Early warrens were mostly associated with the higher levels of society; however, they gradually spread in popularity so that by the 16th and 17th centuries they were a common feature on most manors and estates throughout the country. Warrens continued in use until fairly recent times, finally declining in the face of 19th and 20th century changes in agricultural practice, and the onset of myxomatosis. Warrens are found in all parts of England, the earliest examples lying in the southern part of the country. Approximately 1,000 - 2,000 examples are known nationally with concentrations in upland areas, on heathland and in coastal zones. The profits from a successfully managed warren could, however, be considerable and many areas in lowland England were set aside for warrens at the expense of agricultural land. Although relatively common, warrens are important for their associations with other classes of monument, including various forms of settlement, deer parks, field systems and fishponds. They may also provide evidence of the economy of both secular and ecclesiastical estates. All well-preserved medieval examples are considered worthy of protection. A sample of well-preserved sites of later date will also merit protection. These warrening features are good and well-documented examples of a common activity on the Tabular Hills in the 18th and 19th centuries. Their importance is enhanced by their stratigraphic association with a cross dyke.


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, on the central plateau of the Tabular Hills. The cross dyke runs NNW to SSE across the converging ridges of Sneverdale Rigg and Housedale Rigg, between the valleys of Seive Dale and House Dale. It forms part of a network of prehistoric linear boundaries which is surrounded by many other prehistoric monuments, particularly burials. Also included in the monument are the boundary of a warrening enclosure incorporating a rabbit trap and a segment of warren boundary, both of which overlie the cross dyke. The cross dyke consists of a ditch, which runs between two parallel banks of earth and stone. The banks are up to 3m wide and stand up to 0.5m high. The eastern bank has largely been levelled by past forestry activities so that in many places it is no longer visible as an earthwork. The ditch is 3m-4m wide and between 0.7m and 1m deep, measured from the tops of the adjacent banks. The cross dyke terminates at its southern end at the top of the steeper slope into House Dale. The surviving earthworks terminate at the northern end of the monument at a forestry track; to the north of this track the cross dyke was levelled by ploughing in the 19th century so that now there are no identifiable remains. The segment of warren boundary crosses the northern end of the surviving part of the cross dyke in a WNW to ESE direction. It consists of an earthen bank with a ditch on its southern side. The bank is 0.4m high and has a shallow slope to the north and a steep slope into the ditch. The ditch is 0.9m deep, measured from the top of the bank, and cuts through the banks of the cross dyke. Originally the bank would have been surmounted by a dry stone wall, but over the years this has collapsed and been robbed so that there are no longer any traces along this segment. It is thought that this boundary segment formed part of the northern boundary of Low Dalby warren in the 18th and 19th centuries. The warrening enclosure is situated in the centre of the monument. The enclosure boundary has a continuous bank of earth and stone which is up to 3m wide and 0.5m high; on the northern and southern sides of the enclosure, the bank stands up to 1m high when measured to the south. The bank forming the eastern side of the enclosure overlies the western bank of the cross dyke. The enclosure bank was originally surmounted by a dry stone wall. On the northern side of the enclosure the wall survives, standing up to 0.8m high, but elsewhere it has collapsed and been robbed. Along the eastern side of the enclosure the lower courses of the wall retain the enclosure bank. In the northern boundary of the enclosure, the wall has a 3m wide break which would have been an entrance. The boundary encloses a rectangular area which has internal dimensions of 133m east to west by 48m north to south. On the inside of the western side of the enclosure, 20m to the north of the south west corner, there is a rabbit trap. This is visible as a sub-oval pit up to 3m long north to south by 2m wide, and measuring 0.7m in depth. Originally the pit would have been stone-lined, but over the years the pit has become filled in and the lining is no longer visible. The warrening enclosure lies within Low Dalby warren and is thought to date from the 18th or 19th century. Two forestry tracks cross the southern part of the monument in an east to west direction. The surfaces of these tracks 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: 35172

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Northern Archaeological Associates, , North York Moors Forest Survey Phase Two, (1996)
Northern Archaeological Associates, , North York Moors Forest Survey Phase Two, (1996)
Spratt, D A, Linear Earthworks of the Tabular Hills: North East Yorkshire, (1989), 38
Harris, A, Spratt, D A, 'Yorkshire Archaeological Journal' in The Rabbit Warrens of the Tabular Hills, North Yorkshire, , Vol. 63, (1991), 177-206

End of official listing