Three embanked pit alignments and segments of a linear boundary and a medieval hollow way, 300m west of Givendale Head Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020830

Date first listed: 10-Aug-1923

Date of most recent amendment: 20-May-2003


Ordnance survey map of Three embanked pit alignments and segments of a linear boundary and a medieval hollow way, 300m west of Givendale Head 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: Allerston


National Grid Reference: SE 88992 87480


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

Reasons for Designation

A pit alignment is a linear arrangement of fairly closely-spaced circular or rectangular holes or pits over 1m in diameter. Some examples are several kilometres long and some occur as part of a more complex linear earthwork including linear ditches, slots, palisades and linear banks. Once dug, the pits were left open as features which eroded and silted up over a period of time. Nearly all pit alignments have been discovered from aerial photography and survive as cropmarks or soilmarks. They are largely found in river valleys in central and northern England, but they are also common on the Yorkshire Wolds and are found in smaller numbers on other light, freely-draining soils. Pit alignments probably formed boundaries. Where excavated, they usually appear to be prehistoric in date, although examples are also known from the Roman period. All examples surviving as earthworks are considered to merit protection. On the North York Moors several pit alignments have been identified with surviving earthworks. These examples have been found to have a low bank on either side of the line of pits and have been termed embanked pit alignments (EPA). The EPAs 300m west of Givendale Head Farm are in a good state of preservation. Despite limited disturbance, significant information about the date and original form of the monument will be preserved. Important environmental evidence will survive within the waterlogged pit fills and evidence for earlier land use will survive 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. These EPAs are part of that concentration. They lie close to a complex of similar EPAs which have been identified through survey work as the earliest boundaries in this area. The relationships of this monument with those boundaries and with the burial monuments in the landscape surrounding them are important for understanding the chronological development of land division during the later prehistoric period. The segment of linear boundary 300m west of Givendale Head Farm is a well-preserved and documented example of early post-medieval enclosure on the Tabular Hills. It illustrates the process of physical division between parishes of formerly common uplands, which took place in the late medieval and early post-medieval periods. The boundary segment provides a sample of a more extensive network of post-medieval boundaries within the parish of Allerston. The continued use of many of the prehistoric boundaries during the post-medieval period demonstrates their importance in the landscape. The spatial relationships and difference in form between the post-medieval and prehistoric boundaries in this area demonstrate the changing character of landscape division over time.


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


The monument includes two adjoining pit alignments, a segment of a post-medieval linear boundary which intersects the northern end of one of them and a segment of medieval hollow way which crosses the centre of the same pit alignment. Also included is the surviving part of a third pit alignment. The pit alignments and linear boundary are situated in Dalby Forest, on the central plateau of the Tabular Hills. The pit alignments are of the type known as embanked pit alignments. They each have a line of regularly-spaced and well-defined pits, which are flanked by two parallel banks of earth and stone. The earthworks of each alignment have an overall maximum width of 10m. The first pit alignment lies in an approximate north to south direction, curving out to the west in the centre. The pits are generally sub-oval, although some are more sub-circular and some are squarish in shape. They are spaced 3m apart, centre to centre, and there is a gap of 0.5m-1m between each pit which is lower than the surrounding ground level. The pits have an average width of 2m-3m and are up to 1.5m deep, but a few have eroded up to 5m in diameter and up to 2m in depth. In the centre of the pit alignment, some of the pits are waterlogged. The banks have largely been levelled over the years by forestry operations, although traces survive in the central part of the alignment where they stand up to 0.4m high. The pit alignment has been ploughed level at its southern end where it extends into an arable field. The northern part of the alignment has been breached by two forestry tracks; to the north of the southern forestry track, the segment of medieval hollow way runs east to west across the pit alignment, cutting through the banks. The hollow way is 5m wide and up to 0.5m deep and it is thought to have been established initially as a route between the monastic settlements at Lastingham and Hackness. The second pit alignment runs north east to south west from the centre of the first alignment on its western side. There is a 5m gap between the edge of the first pit and the edge of the nearest pit in the first alignment. The second alignment has sub-circular pits, which are spaced 3m apart, centre to centre. They are an average of 3m in diameter and are 0.7m-1m deep. Some of the pits are waterlogged. The banks survive up to 0.5m high, but in places are poorly defined where they have been damaged by forestry operations. The pit alignment has been breached by a forestry track and has a further breach to the north. The post-medieval boundary segment is part of the boundary known as Wetmoor Dike. It runs approximately eastwards for 100m from the edge of a forestry track and it intersects the northern end of the first pit alignment. The junction with the pit alignment has been disturbed by an old quarry. The boundary segment survives as a rounded bank of earth and stone, 4m wide and standing up to 0.9m high, which has a shallow ditch on its south side, up to 2m wide and 0.3m deep. The Wetmoor Dike originally ran from the head of Sand Dale in the west towards Troutsdale in the east, as far as the modern division between the parishes of Allerston and Ebberston and Yedingham. The third pit alignment lies to the immediate north of Wetmoor Dike and has not previously been mapped. It runs approximately NNE to SSW. Parts of the alignment have been damaged by forestry operations, but fragmentary traces survive over a 220m length to the north of Wetmoor Dike. The pits are slightly squarish and are spaced 2m-2.5m apart, centre to centre. They average 2m-2.5m in width and are 0.8m-1.3m deep. The banks have a maximum height of 0.3m. The alignment is segmented by two forestry tracks. The monument lies in an area which has a history of land division dating from the prehistoric period. The pit alignments form part of a network of prehistoric boundaries which is surrounded by many other prehistoric monuments, particularly burials. The post-medieval boundary segment forms a sample of the network of such boundaries which were constructed from the 17th century onwards, to enclose the wastes in the township of Allerston. The surfaces of the forestry tracks and the fence posts which cross the monument are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all these features 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: 35159

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), 36-42
Spratt, D A, Linear Earthworks of the Tabular Hills: North East Yorkshire, (1989), 39-50
Winchester, A J L, The Harvest of the Hills, (2000), 26-51
Mytum, H, 'CBA Forum' in Pit alignments at Givendale Head, (1995), 34-35
Title: 1st Edition Ordnance Survey 6" sheet 92 Source Date: 1854 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing