Howardian Hills National Mapping Programme project
The Howardian Hills were designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1987. The requirement for a robust Management Plan provided the stimulus for the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England (RCMHE) to undertake an aerial survey to National Mapping Programme standards (NMP). The results of this work by the RCHME Aerial Survey team helped to highlight the hidden archaeological wealth of this beautiful landscape.
The range of low hills known as the Howardian Hills are quite well defined geographically. They sit between the higher ground of the North York Moors to the north and the Yorkshire Wolds to the south. The Howardian Hills are made up of of undulating Jurassic Limestone and Sandstone. Today the area is largely used for arable farming, but there are extensive areas of woodland – both ancient woodland and commercial coniferous plantations. Large estates dating from the medieval period also lie within the area.
Reflecting the Moors and Wolds
The archaeology of the Howardian Hills has received rather less attention than the neighbouring areas of the North York Moors or the Yorkshire Wolds. However, there are similarities between the distinctive and sometimes varied features found in both.
Square barrow cemeteries were recorded – these sometimes appeared to be associated with trackways. Square barrows are a site type common on the Yorkshire Wolds.
At the barrow cemetery at Slingsby, shown in the photograph below, some of the barrows are situated between a pair of ditches and pit alignments. Their alignment with these features may suggest a relationship between them.
Prehistoric land division
Cross-ridge dykes are well known on the North York Moors, seen as parallel banks and ditches. Some were recorded at the northern end of the AONB from early photographs, but these now lie in densely wooded plantations.
Extensive cropmarks of parallel ditches were recorded on the slopes either side of Barton le Street. The extract of NMP mapping below shows how these combine to form a sinuous multiple ditched boundary enclosing an area of land to the south of Barton le Street. Similar features are seen on the Yorkshire Wolds and their appearance suggests adaptation and reuse. This could have been over considerable periods of time and they possibly served different functions at different times.
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Historic Places Investigation
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We identify archaeological sites and landscapes using aerial photography, lidar, geophysics, earthwork analysis and excavation.
Historic England experts use airborne remote sensing methods to identify, record and monitor the condition of heritage assets
The aerial survey of the North York Moors National Park was carried out using National Mapping Programme standards.
The Vale of York project mapped a range of features from the prehistoric period to the 20th century.
The Yorkshire Wolds project mapped the cropmark evidence for prehistoric and Roman settlement visible on air photographs.