East Toft Dike: a cross dyke 720m south and 680m south west of Little Marfit Head


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021100

Date first listed: 23-Jul-1963

Date of most recent amendment: 11-Aug-2003


Ordnance survey map of East Toft Dike: a cross dyke 720m south and 680m south west of Little Marfit Head
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This copy shows the entry on 23-Jan-2019 at 18:21:38.


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 Grid Reference: SE 84997 92276, SE 85265 92156


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 being part-levelled by ploughing the East Toft Dike has surviving earthworks and other surviving archaeological deposits. 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 in both the earthwork and plough-levelled sections. Evidence for earlier land use will be preserved in the old ground surface beneath the surviving length of bank. The cross dyke belongs to a network of prehistoric boundaries, dividing the area to the south of the scarp edge of the Tabular Hills, between Newton Dale in the west and Stain Dale in the east. It is thought to represent a system of territorial land division which was constructed to augment natural divisions of the landscape by river valleys and watersheds and it is one of many such groups found on the Tabular Hills. Networks such as these offer important scope for the study of land use for social, ritual and agricultural purposes during the prehistoric period.


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


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a cross dyke which is situated on the central plateau of the Tabular Hills. It occupies a prominent ridge-top position between Black Dale and Black Griff. The monument is divided into two separate areas of protection by the A169 Whitby to Pickering road. The cross dyke runs for 580m in an approximate north west to south east direction, turning to the south west and south respectively into the valley heads at the west and east ends. To the east of the road it has a ditch with a bank of earth and stone on its southern side. The ditch is up to 0.8m deep, measured from the top of the bank which stands up to 0.6m high. The earthworks have an overall maximum width of 7m. The cross dyke has been levelled for the last 10m before the road. The last 48m of the ditch at the eastern end, after the cross dyke has made a sharp turn towards the south, has been deepened and widened by its use as a vehicle track. To the west of the road, the cross dyke has been levelled by ploughing, but the ditch survives as a buried feature which is clearly visible as a soil mark on aerial photographs. At the western end of this section, the line of the ditch is visible as a very shallow linear depression, and the bank survives as a slight earthwork beneath a modern field boundary. The monument forms part of a network of prehistoric boundaries which is surrounded by many other prehistoric monument, including burials and field systems.

All fence posts along modern field boundaries crossing the monuments 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: 35456

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Spratt, D A, Linear Earthworks of the Tabular Hills: North East Yorkshire, (1989), 38-41

End of official listing