North York Moors National Mapping Programme project
This National Mapping Programme (NMP) project targeted areas most in need of archaeological landscape assessment in the North York Moors National Park (NP). The work was undertaken by Archaeological Research Services Ltd with funding from the National Heritage Protection Commissions Programme (NHPCP). Nearly half of the National Park was surveyed, revealing the varied archaeological nature of the upland environment. This included Neolithic and Bronze Age funerary monuments, the medieval monastic landscape and vast post medieval industrial assets. The coastal element of the National Park was previously mapped as part of the north east and Yorkshire Coast Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Surveys (RCZAS).
Funerary activity and settlement
Later prehistoric activity dominates the archaeological record of the National Park, comprising monuments from Neolithic long barrows to Bronze Age and Iron Age settlement. Over 500 funerary monuments were mapped from aerial photographs, many of which were new discoveries. Great Ayton Moor displays an example of a Neolithic chambered round cairn and associated long cairn forming the focus for thousands of years of activity including numerous burial cairns, barrows, clearance cairns and an Iron Age settlement.
The power of the church
The influence of religious houses in the medieval period is particularly evident in the North York Moors. There were no less than eighteen monasteries within or immediately adjacent to the current National Park boundaries. The most prominent was Rievaulx Abbey. The monastic impact on the upland environment is clearly illustrated with the number of granges located throughout the project area, most of which were visible on air photographs. The mapping identified a potential five further grange sites, located along remote moorland streams and comprising sod-cast turf boundaries, with evidence of buildings at three sites.
Ironstone, jet, coal and alum
Perhaps the greatest influx of activity occurred with the exploitation of minerals, mainly during the time of the Industrial Revolution. This was evident in the aerial photographic record in the form of jet mining and alum quarries to the east of Great Ayton, coal mining along Blakey Ridge and extensive ironstone extraction in Rosedale.
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