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Linear earthwork, part of the Aberford Dyke system, extending 770m east from Humphrey Dale Cottage

A Scheduled Monument in Aberford, Leeds

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Latitude: 53.8375 / 53°50'15"N

Longitude: -1.3293 / 1°19'45"W

OS Eastings: 444229.518944

OS Northings: 438129.957793

OS Grid: SE442381

Mapcode National: GBR MS52.02

Mapcode Global: WHDBF.KS6Y

Entry Name: Linear earthwork, part of the Aberford Dyke system, extending 770m east from Humphrey Dale Cottage

Scheduled Date: 27 September 1949

Last Amended: 25 June 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016953

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31519

County: Leeds

Civil Parish: Aberford

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Aberford St Ricarius

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes a length of earthworks which forms part of the Aberford
Dyke system. It runs from Humphrey Dale Cottage eastwards to a point
approximately 80m into Hayton Wood. At the western end the bank lies partly
under Field Lane, and partly in the grounds of Humphrey Dale Cottage.
Excavations on the line of the access road to Humphrey Dale Cottage revealed a
bank severely truncated by ploughing, surviving to a height of only 0.2m. The
ditch survives to the south of the bank, at the base of a scarp, but is not
visible as a surface feature. Its survival, however, was demonstrated by the
excavation. The ditch was shown to survive to a depth of 3m. The central part
of this stretch of earthwork has been spread by ploughing, and is visible as a
broad bank and ditch. The total width of bank and ditch together is
approximately 41m. At the east end of the earthwork in Hayton Wood the bank
and ditch are clearly visible, the bank attaining a height of 2m-3m.
All fences and garden fixtures are excluded from the scheduling, although the
ground beneath them 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

The Aberford Dykes are substantial linear earthworks situated in North and
West Yorkshire, east of Leeds. They lie north and south of Cock Beck with the
modern village of Aberford at their approximate centre.
They are visible as rock-cut ditches and banks. Most of the earthworks run
approximately east-west. The ditch is on the south side of the bank and some
parts of the earthworks have an additional counterscarp bank on the same side.
The earthworks north of Cock Beck (including sections known as The Ridge,
Becca Banks and the earthwork at Field Lane) mostly occupy commanding
positions at the top of the scarp and may once have formed a single boundary.
The earthworks south of Cock Beck include the South Dyke which occupies the
top of the scarp above the beck and, crossing it, Woodhouse Moor Rein,
running north east-south west along a low rounded ridge.
The Aberford Dykes have been identified as defences of the British kingdom of
Elmet against the Anglo-Saxons in the late sixth and early seventh centuries,
or as boundaries to defend the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Deira against the
Mercians in the seventh century AD. They have also been interpreted as dykes
built to defend the territories of the Brigantes against the advance of the
Roman Empire in the first century AD. There is no documentary evidence for the
date of the Dykes, however, and firm archaeological dating evidence is sparse.
They may not all belong to one period but relate to a number of different
events. The style of construction has parallels in both the Roman and the
early post-Roman periods. Excavation at Field Lane retrieved Roman period
pottery from deposits associated with the silting up of the ditch. It is
therefore likely that, here at least, the ditch was open during the Roman
The size and extent of the Aberford Dykes imply a considerable expenditure of
time and labour, suggesting a degree of social organisation at the time of
their construction and a strong concern for territorial control, whether
military, organisational or symbolic. All known lengths of the Aberford Dykes
where significant archaeological deposits are likely to survive are considered
to be nationally important.

The linear earthwork, part of the Aberford Dyke system, extending 770m east
from Humphrey Dale Cottage survives well, and will preserve significant
archaeological information on the Roman and post Roman-periods.

Source: Historic England

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