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Sections of linear boundary dyke in Harper Dale and Holm Dale, north east of Horsedale Plantation

A Scheduled Monument in Huggate, East Riding of Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.0093 / 54°0'33"N

Longitude: -0.6557 / 0°39'20"W

OS Eastings: 488193.443388

OS Northings: 457868.937477

OS Grid: SE881578

Mapcode National: GBR RQV2.TJ

Mapcode Global: WHGD7.WHX7

Entry Name: Sections of linear boundary dyke in Harper Dale and Holm Dale, north east of Horsedale Plantation

Scheduled Date: 17 December 1929

Last Amended: 18 April 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015567

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26582

County: East Riding of Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Huggate

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Riding of Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Wetwang

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes four sections of Bronze Age single linear boundary banks
and ditches (also known as dykes) running along the northern side of the head
of Harper Dale and through Holm Dale, close to the junction of the three dry
valleys of Horse, Holm and Harper Dales. The monument is divided into two
separate areas.
Lying close to an ancient trackway on the western side of the Wolds, the
surviving part of which forms the present-day Wolds Way, the monument is part
of a complex of linear banks and ditches running through Horse Dale, Holm Dale
and Harper Dale.
The whole system is associated with other complexes further to the west along
Huggate Pasture in Frendal Dale and at its junction with Tun Dale, and further
to the east back along Harper Dale towards Middleham Plantation.
These dykes were used to enhance the natural topographic barriers of spurs and
escarpments between valleys, with additional physical barriers of banks and
ditches. Natural conduits along the floors of dry valleys were then `blocked'
by other bank and ditch systems acting to control access. This is the case
with this system as it drops towards the valley floor and links with the
opposing system of dykes across the southern side of Harper Dale and Horse
Well preserved sections of these linear boundaries are the subject of separate
schedulings and in some cases, adjacent monuments may physically abut.
This elaborate complex of boundary earthworks is one of the best preserved
remnants of the original more extensive systems recorded and mapped as
extending across large areas of the Wolds by early antiquarians such as J R
Mortimer in the 19th century.
Excavations and observation of spatial relationships with other earthworks of
known date demonstrate this Wolds complex of earthworks to have originated in
the later Bronze Age, with several subsequent phases of elaboration and
The monument also forms part of a broadly related and extensive complex of
multi-period prehistoric earthworks, including bowl barrows, barrow
cemeteries, linear bank and ditch systems, trackways and enclosures dispersed
across Huggate and Warter Wolds, and Huggate and Millington Pastures.
The monument includes four sections of banks and ditches, forming two broad,
paired groups, one lying above the other in two approximately parallel arcs,
one set in Holm Dale and the other in Harper Dale.
The upper group consists of a single bank and ditch lying just below and
augmenting the break of slope along the northern edge of Harper Dale and the
south western edge of Holm Dale. Together these two sections amount to a total
length of 1.8km of bank and ditch.
Below this lies another, shorter section, which commences part the way up the
north eastern side of Holm Dale and leads back south towards its junction with
Harper Dale, climbs back up the dry valley side to form a short, parallel
section with the upper bank and ditch and then passes very close to the first
higher section of bank at the confluence of the two valleys. Here at the
intersection of the valleys, there is a point where the two major dyke systems
intersect in an original junction. The upper bank and ditch of the Harper Dale
section adjoins the lower bank climbing up from Harper Dale and into Holm Dale
in a nearly perpendicular original junction. However, land boundaries and
fence lines have interrupted the junction of the upper dyke leading south
east down Holm Dale with the upper bank and ditch of Harper Dale.
The lower dyke section of Holm Dale and Harper Dale then leads back eastwards
along the line of Harper Dale along the valley side, around 30m above the
valley floor, and broadly parallel with the upper bank, forming a 970m length
of dyke in total.
Both the eastern ends of the two bank systems in Harper Dale finish abruptly,
the upper at a field boundary edge. Neither are thought to have been original
termini, however, as it seems likely that additional sections extended further
east, to form a continuous length of boundary banks and ditches linking the
eastern and western complexes described above. A hundred metres west of the
end of the upper length of bank, a short, 50m section of bank leads into the
monument from part way down the valley side, to the south in a short `fork'.
The upper bank running along the slope break of the southern edge of Harper
Dale is variable in height, ranging from 1m to nearly 2m in height and around
3m-4m wide at base. Its `U' shaped ditch lies to the north, between the bank
and the break of slope, and is nearly infilled in places, being about 2m wide.
It terminates at the meeting of Harper Dale with Holm Dale in a nearly
perpendicular junction with the bank climbing due north west up from the floor
of Harper Dale. The next section of bank and ditch leads north west up into
Holm Dale, running just below the break in slope which it augments with a bank
up to 2m high in places, and a deep, `U' shaped ditch lying between the bank
and the break in slope, around 2m wide at its base but up to 10m wide in
places across its top, particularly close to its start at the south eastern
end of Holm Dale. As this section of the monument progresses due north west
along the top eastern side of Holm Dale, it becomes rather less impressive in
its dimensions, the bank becoming rather flattened along the top and the ditch
more infilled, whilst a hedge and fenceline has served to disrupt its profile
in places. Towards the north western end of this upper section of Holm Dale
dyke, the bank is around 1m high, and it becomes invisible for a short
section, overlain by hedges of field and parish boundaries, until it reappears
in a short forked end, each short forked section being about 150m long. The
northern `fork' follows the line of the field and parish boundary, and
includes a low bank around 1m in height with the remains of a very shallow
nearly infilled ditch to its north eastern flank. The end of the fork here is
disrupted by a large spoil of excavated debris, lying along the edge of a lane
which bounds the monument to its east, conforming to the line of the parish
boundary. The southern `fork' is much better preserved however, and swings
nearly due west right at the head of Holm Dale, to `close' the valley and link
with the dyke section on the western side of the valley, in an off-set
original junction. This short southern fork survives to between 1m and 1.5m
in height and up to 5m wide at its base. It appears to have a ditch to both
south west and north east, the latter lying between it and the end of the
northern fork.
The lower section of bank lying slightly above the valley floor of Harper Dale
on its northern side is orientated east-west in line with the direction of the
valley and broadly parallel with the upper line of bank and ditch running just
below the break in slope. The bank here is low, being around 0.5m to 1m in
height for much of its length, and has a shallow, infilled ditch to the north
side. Towards its western junction with Holm Dale, the bank is difficult to
see for a distance of around 25m, as the presence of a large rabbit warren,
and mature trees, has caused considerable damage and disruption to the line of
the monument. There is the appearance of an original `Y' shaped junction of
banks here, formed by the ends of the lower banks of the northern Harper Dale
dykes (described here) with the northern end of the cross dyke bank leading
south back across Harper Dale to join with the systems of dykes running up
from Horse Dale, the subject of separate schedulings. However, the presence of
a large tree and the rabbit warren have disrupted a true understanding of the
relationship of the banks with each other here.
The next section of bank commences close to the floor of Harper Dale, some 15m
north west of the northern end of the cross dyke bank just described. It is
between 1m-1.25m high as it leads back up the northern side of Harper Dale
nearly due west, to converge with the original terminus of the upper bank at
the confluence of Holm and Harper Dale. Overall it survives well, being up to
1.5m high in places and flattened along the top, with a broad, shallow `U'
shaped ditch, 3m-4m wide, lying along its eastern flank. It curves due north
west around the junction of the two valleys for about a 100m, at this point
being nearly parallel with the upper dyke lying just below the break of Holm
Dale slope. It then changes course heading WNW for the remaining 250m length,
giving a slightly stepped appearance, before diminishing in height and
disappearing part of the way down the eastern side of Holm Dale, in what is
not thought to be an original terminus, as there is a short 70m break, before
the next and final section of the monument.
This last section does not survive well above ground, being much eroded and
flattened through the course of time. It is barely visible as a low bank,
reused as a sheep path, its ditch now almost completely infilled as it leads
north west from the floor of Holm Dale and up along the western side of the
valley, toward the head of Holm Dale. North of a short valley intersecting
this system here from the west, this section of the monument survives much
better and becomes visible as a low, rounded bank about a metre in height,
leading north back up the slope of the hillside from the floor of the small
valley below, its shallow, `U' shaped, nearly infilled ditch lying along its
north western flank. This northern end of this section of the monument is
thought to be an original terminus, forming an off-set junction with the
terminus of the southern forked section of the upper dyke system running south
along the eastern break of Holm Dale slope.
Modern post and wire fencing, animal feed and water dispensers and other
modern farm or game bird husbandry constructions and equipment is excluded
from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

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

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 re-used 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.

The monument is part of a very extensive and important system of linear
boundary dykes in this area of the Yorkshire Wolds, dating back to the Bronze
Age. It is a rare surviving example of a particularly elaborate and complex
system of interlinked banks and ditches and is very well preserved for much of
its length. In addition it includes original termini and junctions with an
adjacent dyke, offering important insights into the planning and construction
of such complexes. Together these form an integral system of boundary and
defensive earthworks in this region, affording important insights into ancient
land use and territorial divisions for social, ritual and agricultural
purposes in this area of the Yorkshire Wolds.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Mortimer, J R , Forty Years Researches in British and Saxon Burial Mounds of East Yorkshire, (1905), 365-380
Dent, J, 'Archaeological Journal' in The Yorkshire Dykes, (1984), 32-33
Dent, J, 'Archaeological Journal' in The Yorkshire Dykes, (1984), 32-33
Halkon, P, 'Prehistory Research Section Bulletin' in The Huggate Dykes, , Vol. 30, (1993), 10
Manby, T, 'Current Archaeology' in The Yorkshire Dykes, , Vol. 67, (1979), 233
Humberside SMR, Sites and Monuments Records Sheet, (1994)
Humberside SMR, Sites and Monuments Records Sheet, (1994)

Source: Historic England

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