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Extensive prehistoric and medieval remains on Levisham Moor

List Entry Summary

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Extensive prehistoric and medieval remains on Levisham Moor

List entry Number: 1020820

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Ryedale

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Levisham

County: North Yorkshire

District: Ryedale

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Lockton

National Park: NORTH YORK MOORS

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 11-Mar-1964

Date of most recent amendment: 16-Oct-2002

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 35461

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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

Reasons for Designation

The North York Moors is an area which has an abundance of prehistoric remains particularly within moorland landscapes where they have not been disturbed by more recent agricultural activity. These are evidence for the widespread exploitation of these uplands throughout prehistory. Levisham Moor is one of the more extensive and complex of such landscapes known in the area, and significant remains survive which retain valuable information about the early exploitation of the uplands. The causewayed, cross ridge dykes are the earliest evidence of the systematic enclosure of the land. Current information favours the view that they were used as territorial boundary markers demarcating land allotment within communities. In addition it is considered that the land thus defined may also have had a ritual significance evidenced by the particular construction technique employed and the level of energy and material used. From work undertaken on this monument class in the north east of England they are dated to the Early Bronze Age. At Levisham the type of land use within the areas defined by the dykes is illustrated by the regular cultivation plots created from the co-axial field systems, significant remains of which still survive. The other features of the Bronze Age landscape, which survive well, are the round barrows. These are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often they exhibit regional variations in form and a diversity of burial practices and provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisations amongst early prehistoric communities. The later prehistoric remains are identified as the simple cross dykes defining more specific territories again with well-preserved remains of their associated field systems. This provides important evidence of the continuity and change in forms of land division. At Levisham there is also the evidence of the transition in the Late Iron Age to a more focussed settlement pattern with the establishment of dispersed enclosed settlements superimposed upon the edges of the pre-existing field system. Late Iron Age and Roman period dispersed enclosed settlements are discrete areas of occupation incorporating a small cluster or even a single main dwelling surrounded by structures and activity areas associated primarily with crop processing, animal husbandry and craft production. Though size varies the majority fall between 0.2ha and 1.6ha in extent with the smaller examples particularly prevalent in the north and upland or marginal land use areas. This form of settlement had a long tradition in England and its origins can be traced back to the Middle Bronze Age. They were a particularly common aspect of the rural landscape and represent foci for social groups based in dispersed individual farming communities. They are a defining characteristic of rural settlement in most areas throughout the second half of the first millennium BC and Roman periods. Around dispersed enclosed settlements there would be the track ways and boundaries of associated field systems, industrial areas and quarries, and occasionally the cemeteries of individual communities. On the majority of studied examples there is little evidence of great personal wealth or centres of particular ritual or burial significance. These settlements generally represented the homes of small family or kinship groups of moderate standing. The dispersed enclosed settlement at Levisham survives well and a range of different forms and styles of structures are present. Of particular importance are the well-preserved remains of a complex iron working site associated with the settlement. The iron was produced in what was known as a bloomery. These were clay furnaces up to 1m in diameter in which iron ore and charcoal was fired together to produce iron and slag. The remains of this process retains important evidence of early iron production and will add to the understanding of the development of the technology. The prehistoric remains at Levisham represent a long period of exploitation of the land and important evidence of the development of agriculture and the settlement survives. It is known that archaeological deposits survive extremely well and important evidence for the nature and duration of the settlement still remains. In addition to the prehistoric period important remains of the medieval exploitation of Levisham Moor also survive. Of particular significance are the grange and iron working site. A monastic grange was a farm owned and run by a monastic community and independent of the secular manorial system of communal agriculture and servile labour. The function of granges was to provide food and raw materials for consumption within the parent monastic house itself, and also to provide surpluses for sale for profit. The first monastic granges appeared in the 12th century but they continued to be constructed and used until the Dissolution. Five types of specialist grange are known: agrarian farms, bercaries (sheep farms), vaccaries (cattle ranches), horse studs and industrial complexes. A monastery might have more than one grange and the wealthiest houses had many. On occasion these could be located at some considerable distance from the parent monastery. Granges are broadly comparable with contemporary secular farms although the wealth of the parent house was frequently reflected in the size of the grange and the layout and architectural embellishment of the buildings. In view of the importance of granges to medieval rural and monastic life, all sites exhibiting good archaeological survival are identified as nationally important. Medieval iron smelting sites are frequently found near streams and are known as bloomeries. In the bloomeries iron ore was fired to about to about 1200 degrees Centigrade, using charcoal as fuel. This caused a chemical reaction, producing a mass of iron called a bloom, which was then hammered to remove any residual slag. Bloomeries were usually located close to a source of wood for charcoal making, which would be made nearby. This area of North Yorkshire is particularly rich in evidence for early iron smelting, and this bloomery is one of several in the area. It survives well, is relatively well-documented and will make a significant contribution to the study of the early iron industry. The archaeological remains on Levisham Moor survive well and represent a broad chronological and functional range. In addition to the known surviving remains there is a very high potential for further remains, currently unknown, to survive throughout the lower part of the moor. Taken together the surviving remains contribute greatly to the understanding of land use and change over a broad sweep of time.

History

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Details

The monument includes buried and earthwork remains of a range of agricultural, domestic, industrial and ritual features dating from the prehistoric and medieval periods and located on the southern part of Levisham Moor. These features include Bronze Age round barrows and dykes, Iron Age agricultural, industrial and settlement remains, a medieval grange and a medieval iron working site as well as numerous hollow ways tracks and field systems dating to the medieval and post-medieval periods. None of these features exist in isolation. Together they reflect a continuing and changing pattern of land use in which the later phases are superimposed upon the earlier. Levisham Moor lies on the southern edge of the sandstone, predominantly heather covered moor characteristic of the North York Moors. The moor occupies the northern part of a block of land defined by the deep valleys of Newton Dale to the west, Horcum Slack to the east, Havern Beck to the north and Levisham Beck to the south. The eastern side of the moor is bisected by smaller valleys known locally as griffs which divide the moor into a series of flat-topped peninsulas, known as riggs, with steep slopes on all but their western and north western sides. The moor has been intensively occupied and exploited from prehistoric times and the monument occupies the southern, lower part of the moor where the major concentration of activity was located. The northern part of the moor shows little trace of intensive occupation and it is considered that this area was used primarily for pastoralism. Consequently that part of the moor is not included in the monument although some isolated remains are protected separately. The southern part of the block of land has been enclosed and brought into agricultural use but traces of prehistoric remains in this area are visible on aerial photographs. The monument is defined on its southern side by the edge of the improved land, on its western side by the natural top edge of the precipitous west facing flank known as West Side Brow and on the eastern side by Levisham Beck. The northern side of the monument is defined by the natural valleys of Hawdale Griff and Horness Griff and by the limits of prehistoric occupation defined by dykes. The earliest, clearly identifiable remains known to survive date to the Bronze Age. By the Early to Middle Bronze Age much of the previously wooded land had been cleared and was divided into discrete agricultural units, which supported specialised activities. These areas were created by constructing substantial dykes across ridges and promontories formed by the natural topography of the riggs and griffs. The most northerly of these areas lies on the northern part of Sheephouse Rigg centred at NGR SE83159330 where two parallel, east to west orientated dykes extend across the shoulder of land between Hawdale Griff at the east to the edge of West Brow at the west and thus enclose an area measuring a maximum of 350m by 500m. The northern dyke extends eastwards for 250m from a point 20m down the slope of West Brow at NGR SE83159350 to Hawdale Griff then makes a return southward for 75m following the edge of the Griff in order to fully enclose the area. This dyke includes a single ditch with a southern bank and a slight outer bank to the north. The ditch is 0.7m deep and 3m wide and the southern bank is 4m wide and up to 1m high. The southern dyke lies 350m to the south west and extends eastwards for 300m as an earthwork from a point 20m down the slope of West Brow at NGR SE82919316 and terminates at NGR SE83169304. Although the dyke terminates as an earthwork the line continues as a shallow valley which extends for a further 250m to Hawdale Griff. This dyke includes a single ditch with a northern bank. The ditch is 0.5m deep and 3m wide and the bank is 4m wide and up to 0.75m high. Both these dykes are not a continuous build but are broken along their entire length by a series of causeways, 3m wide and an average of 10m apart. This specific form of construction and the size of the dykes indicate some functional or ritual significance beyond a mere boundary. Within the area between the dykes there is at least one identifiable enclosure and a number of clearance cairns indicating that some of the area was used for agriculture. Less than 1km to the south east, the steep sided promontory of Horness Rigg is crossed by a similarly constructed causewayed dyke. This is located at the narrowest part of the rigg, some 800m north of the southern tip. This dyke extends for 80m along the top of the rigg from NGR SE83899272 to NGR SE83999274. The dyke extends for 20m down the steep slope at both ends. The dyke includes a shallow ditch, 2m wide, with flanking banks 1.5m wide and 0.4m high. The causeways are up to 1.5m wide and an average of 7m apart. To the south of the dyke, on the broad top of Horness Rigg, are remains of a co-axial field system. It is defined by a series of broad field banks extending east to west across the top of the rigg, which is a maximum of 130m wide. There is evidence from field walking and aerial photographs of north to south divisions creating at least two clear fields. It is considered that the ends of all three of these cross ridge dykes are the original termini. In the central area of the monument, to the west of Water Griff a pair of connected dykes extend north to south across the western side of the three west to east riggs. These dykes differ in construction from the others and consist of a single continuous ditch with flanking banks. They are considered to be later than the other dykes and date to the Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age when more intensive use of the land took place. Generally the banks are 2m-3m wide and up to 0.5m high with a central ditch 0.5m deep and up to 2m wide. The earliest of these dykes curves northwards for 350m between the heads of Pigtrough Griff and Little Griff enclosing a steep sided peninsula of land to the east covering some 15ha. It is thought that this dyke originally extended further south across the neck of Dundale Rigg, however any surviving remains have been masked by later land use and are obscured by deep vegetation. The second dyke extends, with a slight curve, southwards for 500m from Hawdale Griff at NGR SE83409286 and joins the other dyke close to the head of Little Griff and encloses an area of 10ha-12ha. Within the enclosed area to the east of these dykes there are remains of co-axial field systems on Pigtrough Rigg, Sheephouse Rigg and Dundale Rigg. These survive as earth and stone banks, 0.4m high and 1.5m wide. The main axis of these systems run east to west along the spine of the riggs with lesser banks lying at right angles to these. These field systems would have covered most of the riggs however much of the visible evidence for this has been disturbed or masked by later land use leaving only the isolated portions discernible today. The settlement from which these areas were farmed has yet to be identified, but it is anticipated to have been nearby. In addition to the cross dykes and field systems the Bronze Age also saw the construction of round barrows. There are at least five round barrows within the monument located at NGR SE82809260, SE83289284, SE83299220, SE83069194 and SE82269208. These are all situated in prominent positions, predominantly on watersheds. Some of these are known to predate the dykes and field systems as they are respected by the later features. In common with other barrows elsewhere in the moors it is suggested that as well as being funerary monuments they also served as markers for boundaries and/or route ways. Some of these barrows were excavated in the 19th century and in the 1960s and artefacts found within included food vessels and remains of human burials. One of the barrows (at SE83289284) shows traces of an encircling ditch. Adjacent to the dykes at the western side of Pigtrough Rigg are the remains of an Iron Age/Roman period dispersed enclosed settlement. This survives as a group of four earth and stone built enclosures. The bulk of the settlement is enclosed by and partly formed by the earlier dykes. The four enclosures were partly excavated in the 1950s and 1960s and the evidence showed that three were primarily for domestic occupation whilst the fourth was an iron working site of the bloomery type. All four produced native ware pottery and were firmly dated to the Late Iron Age to early Roman Period. The largest of these enclosures is an irregular shaped, four-sided structure known locally as `the war camp'. It survives as a prominent earthwork formed by a substantial bank and external ditch. It is trapezoidal in shape varying in size from 50m to 60m from east to west, and from 50m to 54m from north to south. One piece of early second century Roman pottery found during the excavations attests to the site being occupied well into the Roman period. A second enclosure is located 30m to the north west. It survives as a horseshoe-shaped embanked enclosure measuring 50m east to west by 45m north to south. Excavations within the interior uncovered two irregular shaped hut circles approximately 12m in diameter. In addition domestic debris including pottery, pieces of quern stone and a fragment of glass bangle were found. Another enclosure lies 200m to the south west. It measures 50m east to west by 45m north to south and has been dated from the excavations to the Late Iron Age. Both these enclosures were located within the lee of the earlier dykes, which offered some degree of shelter. The iron working site is located on a slight rise at the head of Pigtrough Griff to the west of one of the earlier dykes. It survives as a ditched enclosure containing a mound up to 10m across. The enclosure is horseshoe- shaped, open on the western, downhill side and is formed by a pair of concentric, penannular ditches, an average of 2.5m apart, ranging from 1.15m to 1.86m wide and up to 0.5m deep. The outer ditch encloses an area measuring 14.5m along a north to south axis. Excavations within the interior revealed a ring of post holes for a roughly circular timber building measuring some 6m in diameter. Within the area of the building were found the remains of at least three phases of furnace. The furnaces were oval in shape and constructed primarily of clay. They belong to the group of domed or pot furnaces, with a circular hearth with a domed superstructure above it, rising to a central aperture. This type of furnace was common throughout northern Europe in the Late Iron Age. The whole complex has been dated to the first century AD. It is thought that the site produced iron primarily for domestic consumption. The four enclosures are broadly contemporary in date and can be regarded as a single dispersed settlement. The areas of domestic occupation are enclosed on the west by the earlier dyke with the industrial area located further away beyond the dyke and outside the enclosed area. Environmental evidence from the moor indicates that by the time the settlement was established, arable cultivation was giving way to a more pastoral economy. A further enclosure of Iron Age date is located at the southern tip of Horness Rigg. It is in a prominent position commanding an excellent line of sight southward along Levisham Beck. It measures a maximum of 60m north to south by 45m east to west. It is formed by a bank 0.6m high and up to 1.5m wide on all but the northern side where it is defined by a terrace cut into the higher ground to the north. Trial excavations in 1958 produced Iron Age and Romano-British pottery. In the south western part of the monument at NGR SE82509200 there are extensive and well-preserved remains of a grange of Malton Priory. It is located in a sheltered shallow valley formed by a watercourse known as Dundale Griff. The grange was primarily a bercary or stock farm specialising in sheep although other beasts were also husbanded. The Gilbertine Priory at Old Malton was granted extensive tracts of land in Dundale in the late 12th and 13th centuries. These grants included arable and uncultivated land and pasture for 1000 sheep, mares and stallions along with the right of the canons to make houses and enclosures from wood, turf and heather. A bercary of Malton Priory is specifically mentioned in documents dating to 1224. The earthwork remains show that the bercary was enclosed by a large irregular shaped compound formed by a substantial bank and ditch. This large enclosure was subdivided into at least three separate and distinct internal enclosures. One, to the north of the stream was a general stock fold and the other two, to the south of the stream, was used for more specific animal husbandry. In the south eastern enclosure there are the remains of three, large, stone, possibly aisled buildings lying adjacent to the stream. These are thought to be barns or sheep houses to shelter young stock over winter. There are remains of further structures such as barns and stock houses elsewhere in the complex. At NGR SE82579193 there is a complex of buildings thought to be the domestic accommodation for the stock keeper, lying as it does in the more sheltered part of the site. Generally the earthwork remains of structures throughout the site are up to 2m wide and 0.5m in height. The main access to the site was along the valley floor from the east and the remains of a drove way leading directly into the large northern enclosure still survive. At the eastern end, this drove way connects with Limpsey Gate Lane, an old route mentioned in 13th century charters which leads to Levisham village and then south, off the moor. Two further entrances to the grange complex have been identified, one in the northern boundary giving access on to the moor to the north and the second in the western boundary. In the medieval period most of the flat land on the moor was used extensively for agriculture both cultivation and pasture. Remains of this use survive throughout the monument as ridge and furrow, linear dykes and enclosures. Whilst it is known that Malton Priory was granted large areas of cultivated and pasture land the remainder was used by lay people. It is likely that some of the prehistoric features such as dykes and enclosures were reused in the medieval period. At the confluence of Levisham Beck and Dundale Griff there is the site of a medieval iron working site of the bloomery type. The site survives as a complex of mounds and hollows covering an area approximately 20m by 10m. There are substantial amounts of slag visible on the surface and visible in the river bank where it has been cut by the stream. Where exposed by the stream the slag is up to 0.4m deep. Trial excavations in 1957 failed to locate the actual furnace itself although medieval pottery was uncovered. A forge is recorded at Levisham in 1209 and there are further references in 1334, 1438 and 1661. The location of the source of the iron ore is not currently known, however iron ore was prospected for on Levisham Bottoms 2km to the west. Throughout the monument is a network of paths, hollow ways, packhorse routes and tracks. Many of these respect the prehistoric monuments and may originate in the prehistoric period. In the post-medieval period, agricultural use of the moor declined and the land was used primarily for grazing and other activities such as quarrying. A number of features are excluded from the scheduling. These are: all fences posts, signs and the stone shooting hut at NGR SE83589252: however the ground beneath all these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Atkins, C, An Archaeological Survey of the Levisham Estate, (1991), 5-7
Atkins, C, An Archaeological Survey of the Levisham Estate, (1991), 11, 145
Atkins, C, An Archaeological Survey of the Levisham Estate, (1991), 6-9
Atkins, C, An Archaeological Survey of the Levisham Estate, (1991), 11
Atkins, C, An Archaeological Survey of the Levisham Estate, (1991), 10-12
Atkins, C, An Archaeological Survey of the Levisham Estate, (1991), 5-7
Atkins, C, An Archaeological Survey of the Levisham Estate, (1991), 7-10
Atkins, C, An Archaeological Survey of the Levisham Estate, (1991), 10
Atkins, C, An Archaeological Survey of the Levisham Estate, (1991), 7-11
Atkins, C, An Archaeological Survey of the Levisham Estate, (1991), 12-15
Atkins, C, An Archaeological Survey of the Levisham Estate, (1991), 5-7
Atkinson, C, An Archaeological Survey of Levisham Moor, (1991), 7-10
Atkinson, C, An Archaeological Study of the Levisham Estate, (1991), 7-10
Atkinson, C, An Archaeological Survey of the Levisham Estate, (1980), 11
Atkinson, C, An Archaeological Survey of Levisham Moor, (1991), 11
Atkinson, C, An Archaeological Survey of Levisham Moor, (1991), 7-10
Atkinson, C, An Archaeological Survey of Levisham Moor, (1991), 8
Atkinson, C, An Archaeological Study of the Levisham Estate, (1991), 7-11
Dennison, E, Levisham Moor Beracary Site Erosion Survey, (2001)
Hayes, R H, Levisham Moor Archaeological Investigations 1957-1978, (1980), 22-26
Hayes, R H, Levisham Moor Archaeological Investigations 1957-1978, (1980), 1-5
Hayes, R H, Levisham Moor Archaeological Investigations 1957-1978, (1980), 27-29
Hayes, R H, Levisham Moor Archaeological Investigations 1957-1978, (1980), 69
Hayes, R H, Levisham Moor Archaeological Investigations 1957-1978, (1980), 31
Hayes, R H, Levisham Moor Archaeological Investigations 1957-1978, (1980), 1-5
Hayes, R H, Levisham Moor Archaeological Investigations 1957-1978, (1980), 68
Hayes, R H, Levisham Moor Archaeological Investigations 1957-1978, (1980), 1-16
Hayes, R H, Levisham Moor Archaeological Investigations 1957-1978, (1980), 31, 60
Hayes, R H, Levisham Moor Archaeological Investigations 1957-1978, (1980), 59-64
Hayes, R H, Levisham Moor Archaeological Investigations 1957-1978, (1980), 17-20
Hayes, R H, Levisham Moor Archaeological Investigations 1957-1978, (1980), 1-7
Hayes, R H, Levisham Moor Archaeological Investigations 1957-1978, (1980), 1-7
Moorhouse, S, 'The Archaeology of Rural Monasteries' in Monastic Estates their Composition and Development, , Vol. BAR 203, (1989), 29-83
Moorhouse, S, 'CBA 4 Newsletter' in A Medieval Monastic Farm on Levisham Moor North Yorkshire, (1986), 8-12
Moorhouse, S, 'CBA 4 Newsletter' in A Medieval Monastic Farm on Levisham Moor North Yorkshire, (1986), 8-12
Spratt, D A, 'Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology of North East Yorkshire' in Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology of North East Yorkshire, , Vol. 87, (1989), 94-130
Spratt, D A, 'Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology of North East Yorkshire' in Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology of North East Yorkshire, , Vol. 87, (1989), 92-142
Spratt, D A, 'Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology of North East Yorkshire' in Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology of North East Yorkshire, , Vol. 87, (1989), 92-142
Spratt, D A, 'Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology of North East Yorkshire' in Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology of North East Yorkshire, , Vol. 87, (1989), 92-142
Spratt, D A, 'Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology of North East Yorkshire' in Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology of North East Yorkshire, , Vol. 87, (1989), 92-142
Vyner, B, 'Moorland Monuments; Studies in the Archaeology of N E Yorkshire' in Brides Of Place, , Vol. 101, (1995), 16-31
Vyner, B, 'Moorland Monuments Studies in the Archaeology of NE Yorkshire' in Brides of Place, , Vol. 101, (1998), 16-31
Vyner, B, 'Antiquity' in The Territory of Ritual: Cross ridge boundaries, , Vol. VOL 68, (1994), 27-38
Vyner, B, 'Antiquity' in The Territory Of Ritual: Cross-Ridge Boundaries in Cleveland, (1994), 27-38
Vyner, B, 'Antiquity' in The Territory Of Ritual: Cross-Ridge Boundaries in Cleveland, (1994), 27-38
Other
NY 1.13, MPP iron and steel industry step 3 report, (1998)
NY 1.14, MPP iron and steel industry step 3 report, (1998)
Vyner, B, (2000)
Vyner, B, (2000)

National Grid Reference: SE 83105 92565

Map

Map
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