Two segments of a prehistoric linear boundary 530m north and 200m north east of Beacon Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021236

Date first listed: 15-Apr-2004


Ordnance survey map of Two segments of a prehistoric linear boundary 530m north and 200m north east of Beacon Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Scarborough (District Authority)

County: North Yorkshire

District: Scarborough (District Authority)

Parish: Irton

National Grid Reference: TA 00851 87878, TA 01006 87380


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

Reasons for Designation

Linear boundaries are substantial earthwork features comprising single or multiple ditches and banks which may extend over distances varying between less than 1km to over 10km. They survive as earthworks or as linear features visible as cropmarks on aerial photographs or as a combination of both. The evidence of excavation and study of associated monuments demonstrate that their construction spans the millennium from the Middle Bronze Age, although they may have been reused later. The scale of many linear boundaries has been taken to indicate that they were constructed by large social groups and were used to mark important boundaries in the landscape; their impressive scale displaying the corporate prestige of their builders. They would have been powerful symbols, often with religious associations, used to define and order the territorial holdings of those groups who constructed them. Linear earthworks are of considerable importance for the analysis of settlement and land use in the Bronze Age; all well- preserved examples will normally merit statutory protection.

Despite limited disturbance from agriculture, tree planting and footpaths, the two segments of the prehistoric linear boundary 530m north and 200m north east of Beacon Farm have survived well. Important environmental evidence which can be used to date the boundary 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 surviving banks.

The prehistoric boundary belongs to a network of prehistoric boundaries, dividing the area to the south of the scarp edge of the Tabular Hills, between their eastern limit and Forge Valley in the west. 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. This particular group has several associated boundaries, including the one to which these boundary segments belong, which have stratigraphic relationships with each other and these are important for understanding the development of land division in the later prehistoric period. The network of boundaries lies within a concentration of prehistoric monuments which date from the Neolithic period and includes many burial and ritual monuments. Networks and associations such as these offer important scope for the study of land use for social, ritual and agricultural purposes at different times during the prehistoric period.


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


The monument includes two segments of a prehistoric linear boundary, situated close to the northern scarp edge of the Tabular Hills at their eastern limit. The two segments are in two separate areas of protection.

The northern boundary segment runs for 220m in an approximate NNW to SSE direction, parallel to the top of Row Brow which lies to the east. The southern segment runs on a slightly curved course, from north to SSE. The northern segment and the northern part of the southern segment occupy level ground, but the southern part of the southern segment lies on a very gentle south-facing slope. Both segments survive as earthworks and buried remains which have an overall maximum width of 11m. Originally each segment had a ditch flanked by two parallel banks constructed of earth and stone, but in places these have been damaged or part-levelled so that the earthworks are not fully visible, although the ditch will survive as a buried feature. In the northern segment, the ditch and western bank have largely been levelled by their use as a footpath and bridleway, although at either end of the segment the western bank survives and stands up to 0.2m high, and the ditch is visible as a shallow depression which is up to 1m deep, measured from the top of the adjacent eastern bank. The eastern bank stands up to 0.8m high and is used to mark the boundary between the modern parishes of Irton and Scarborough.

The earthworks in the northern segment are breached at their southern end by a former vehicle track which is now fenced-off. For the southern segment, clear earthworks survive in the southern section and for a 25m length at the northern end, with the banks standing 0.3m-0.4m high and the ditch measuring 0.5m-0.7m in depth from the tops of the adjacent banks. Between these two stretches, the banks have largely been levelled by modern agriculture and survive only as very slight earthworks along the line of the western bank, adjacent to and beneath a modern field boundary, and on the line of the eastern bank beneath a modern east-west field boundary towards the northern end of the segment. In this area, the ditch survives largely as a buried feature, which is visible in places as a shallow depression. In the southern part of the southern segment the earthworks have been disturbed in places by tree planting and related activities, and they are breached by three former field boundary lines, each consisting of a small ditch and bank. At the extreme northern end of the southern segment, the earthworks have been breached by the route of a former footpath. To the south of this, the 1854 edition of the Ordnance Survey map depicts an oval-shaped enclosure immediately to the east of the line of the earthworks, which is thought to have been a pond of post-medieval date; the curving perimeter bank of this feature interrupts the line of the prehistoric boundary and is visible as an earthwork to the east. The former course of the prehistoric boundary to which these segments belong can be reconstructed from the evidence of old maps and aerial photographs. It is thought to have run from the scarp edge in the north, where earthworks are visible running down the steep scarp slope into Raincliffe Woods, to Seamer Moor in the south. No earthworks are visible to the immediate north and south of each of these two segments. The monument belongs to a network of prehistoric boundaries which is surrounded by many other prehistoric monuments, especially burial and ritual monuments.

All fence posts along modern field boundaries crossing and running along 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: 35903

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Spratt, D A, Linear Earthworks of the Tabular Hills: North East Yorkshire, (1989), 60-64
Title: Ordnance Survey 1st Edition 6" sheet 77 Source Date: 1854 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing