Ancient Monuments

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Length of Grim's Ditch extending 1.4km from a point 70m south of Cotton Road East to the south east corner of Avenue Wood

A Scheduled Monument in Swillington, Leeds

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Latitude: 53.7836 / 53°47'1"N

Longitude: -1.4321 / 1°25'55"W

OS Eastings: 437514.947759

OS Northings: 432072.615492

OS Grid: SE375320

Mapcode National: GBR LSFP.RD

Mapcode Global: WHDBR.Z567

Entry Name: Length of Grim's Ditch extending 1.4km from a point 70m south of Cotton Road East to the south east corner of Avenue Wood

Scheduled Date: 7 January 1980

Last Amended: 2 July 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018793

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31512

County: Leeds

Civil Parish: Swillington

Built-Up Area: Leeds

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Whitkirk St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Leeds


The monument includes a length of the linear earthwork known as Grim's Ditch
extending 1.4km from a point 70m south of Cotton Road East to the south east
corner of Avenue Wood. The monument consists of a bank and ditch clearly
visible for much of the length of this section of the Ditch.

In Avenue Wood the bank is typically 10m wide, attaining a height of
approximately 1m in the northern half of the wood. South of The Avenue, the
bank is smaller, and measures about 9m in width and 0.4m in height. In Avenue
Wood the ditch is less distinct than the bank, but its course can be traced.
North of The Avenue it shows as a linear dip approximately 4.5m wide, but the
east edge is obscured by Bullerthorpe Lane. South of The Avenue, the ditch is
beneath Bullerthorpe Lane and a surfaced path.

For most of the distance between Avenue Wood and the housing estate at Colton,
Grim's Ditch is followed by a hedge. This occupies the scarp between the bank
and the ditch. From a point 70m north of the wood to a few metres south of the
housing estate, the ditch is clearly visible.

The bank has been spread and flattened by ploughing in most of this area north
of Avenue Wood, and it is approximately 15m wide, forming a broad crest west
of the hedge. North of the access road to a carpark, a short stretch of
unploughed bank survives to a width of approximately 10m and a height of 1.5m.
Approximately 65m south of the housing estate at Colton, the bank disappears
as a surface feature. A new housing estate, unmarked on the map extract, now
occupies the north east corner of land defined by the junction of Colton Road
East and Bullerthorpe Lane. Excavations prior to this housing development
proved that both bank and ditch survived as buried features. They have since
been reburied and preserved within the layout of the housing development, but
the excavations demonstrated that significant archaeological deposits still
survive on the east edge of the housing estate. These infilled remains are
included in the scheduling.

All walls, fences, road and path surfacings are excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath them is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The West Yorkshire Grim's Ditch is a linear earthwork consisting of a
substantial bank with a deep, rock-cut ditch on its east side. It lies to the
east of Leeds, and the known remains extend northwards for approximately 3.5
km, from just north of the River Aire at Gamblethorpe Farm, Swillington, to
Cock Beck on Whinmoor. Less definite evidence suggests that the earthwork
survives further south to the River Aire, and north beyond Cock Beck.
Grim's Ditch still survives in several places as a visible earthwork. The most
likely context for the construction of Grim's Ditch has always been thought to
be as a defence for the British kingdom of Elmet, and in particular its major
centre, Leeds, against the advance of the Anglo-Saxons in the early 7th
century AD. However, preliminary results from excavations of a section of
Grim's Ditch at Colton suggest that the ditch was open during the Roman
Both the bank and ditch can be seen for most of a 1.8 km stretch, extending
from the A1-M1 link road at the south edge of Avenue Wood, Temple Newsam, to
the A63 at Colton. Lengths of ditch are also visible at Gamblethorpe Farm, and
at the base of a scarp south of Barrowby Road, Austhorpe. The remaining known
course of Grim's Ditch is not a visible earthwork, but it has been located by
means of excavation and geophysical survey.
The size and extent of Grim's Ditch implies a considerable expenditure of time
and labour, and also suggests a degree of social organisation at the time of
its construction. All known lengths of Grim's Ditch, where significant
archaeological deposits are likely to survive are considered to be nationally

The length of Grim's Ditch between Cotton Road East and Avenue Wood is the
best preserved stretch of Grim's Ditch and significant archaeological
information will be preserved.

Source: Historic England


Site 7, WYAS, A1-M1 Link Road, (1996)

Source: Historic England

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