Ancient Monuments

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Length of Grim's Ditch from Cotton Road East to the A63, Colton Common

A Scheduled Monument in Temple Newsam, Leeds

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Latitude: 53.7919 / 53°47'30"N

Longitude: -1.4309 / 1°25'51"W

OS Eastings: 437586.304329

OS Northings: 432991.151562

OS Grid: SE375329

Mapcode National: GBR LSGL.0G

Mapcode Global: WHDBK.ZYSG

Entry Name: Length of Grim's Ditch from Cotton Road East to the A63, Colton Common

Scheduled Date: 7 January 1980

Last Amended: 2 July 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018794

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31513

County: Leeds

Electoral Ward/Division: Temple Newsam

Built-Up Area: Leeds

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Swillington St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Leeds


The monument includes a length of the ditch and bank known as Grim's Ditch. It
extends from the north side of Colton Road East at Windmill Cottages to the
south side of the A63. The ditch is well-defined for most of this length
despite being partly built over with sheds to the east of Windmill Cottages.
The bank best survives towards the north end of the monument.
For approximately 55m north of Windmill Cottages, the bank is not visible as a
surface feature, but the ditch forms a boundary between two fields and is
obvious. To the north extending to the A63, both bank and ditch are visible;
the bank is approximately 9m wide and 0.5m high and the ditch is up to 12m
wide and 2m deep.
Excavation elsewhere on Grim's Ditch has demonstrated that even where the bank
is no longer visible as a surface feature, significant archaeological remains
of the bank survive below ground in many places.
All buildings, walls, 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.

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 from Cotton Road East to the A63 survives
reasonably well and will preserve significant archaeological information.

Source: Historic England

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