Ancient Monuments

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A cross-dyke in Vessey Pasture Dale

A Scheduled Monument in Birdsall, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.0497 / 54°2'59"N

Longitude: -0.729 / 0°43'44"W

OS Eastings: 483313.175853

OS Northings: 462277.400935

OS Grid: SE833622

Mapcode National: GBR RPBM.Z1

Mapcode Global: WHFBW.SG2R

Entry Name: A cross-dyke in Vessey Pasture Dale

Scheduled Date: 14 January 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1007612

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20474

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Birdsall

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: West Buckrose

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes the upstanding earthworks of a cross-dyke running up the
northern slope of Vessey Pasture Dale.
The dyke comprises a 5m wide ditch which is up to 0.5m deep and flanked by two
5m wide banks. The western bank is 1m high at the foot of the slope but
becomes very slight towards the top, while the eastern ditch is 0.5m high but
survives as a distinct earthwork as far as the crest of the slope. There is no
evidence for the continuance of the cross-dyke to the north, although it may
have followed the modern field boundary. At the foot of the slope, the cross-
dyke terminates where it is cut across by a second cross-dyke which runs along
the floor of the Dale. It also at this point meets up with two other cross-
dykes. (Two of these four cross-dykes are indentified for the purposes of
scheduling as 20471 and 20473). The four cross-dykes abut, but for purposes of
clarity, they are being defined as four distinct cross-dykes, three of which
are the subject of separate schedulings.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

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.

The length of the cross-dyke which lies in Vessey Pasture Dale is well-
preserved. It joins another well-preserved dyke to form part of an extensive
system of prehistoric dykes recorded on Birdsall Wold.
The monument is associated with other broadly contemporary monuments of
similar type on Birdsall Wold. Parallels are also known from other parts of
the Wolds and from the southern edge of the North York Moors. Such
associations between monuments offer important scope for the study of the
division of land for social, ritual and agricultural purposes in different
geographical areas during the prehistoric period.

Source: Historic England

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