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Linear boundary earthwork 370m east of Oscar Park Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Rievaulx, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.2826 / 54°16'57"N

Longitude: -1.1129 / 1°6'46"W

OS Eastings: 457853.650157

OS Northings: 487806.16832

OS Grid: SE578878

Mapcode National: GBR NLNX.VK

Mapcode Global: WHD8D.WM77

Entry Name: Linear boundary earthwork 370m east of Oscar Park Farm

Scheduled Date: 6 October 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019340

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32687

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Rievaulx

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Helmsley All Saints

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes earthwork and buried remains of a substantial boundary
bank and ditch which runs north-south, 370m east of Oscar Park Farm. This is
identified as a medieval boundary dyke associated with Newlass, one of the
monastic granges of Rievaulx Abbey.
The northern end of the dyke peters out just south of a field wall which marks
the former edge of the moorland to the north. It extends southwards with a
western bank and eastern ditch, following the eastern side of a slight fold in
the hillside. After about 450m it bends south eastwards, running along the
eastern side of Moll Dawson's Slack. Over the next 150m, Moll Dawson's Slack
becomes a steeper sided gully and the dyke then bends back southwards to end
in the base of the gully which effectively continues the boundary to the SSE.
The boundary dyke is formed by a bank typically 4m-5m wide, rounded in profile
and up to 1.2m high, with a ditch immediately to its east typically 4m-5m wide
and 1m deep. In places where the bank has been cut through by later trackways,
the bank appears to have an earth and rubble stone construction with no
evidence of facing stones or for a berm between bank and ditch. All the
material for the bank could be up cast from the ditch, probably with no spoil
left over especially as there is no real evidence for a second bank on the far
side of the ditch. At the far southern end of the dyke, there is an apparent
second bank, but this has been produced by the steepness of the hillside and
the presence of a hollowed footpath on the uphill, east side of the ditch. On
the east side of the ditch for the northern 350m of the dyke there is a
drystone wall which in places is ruinous. The standing portions of this wall
are not thought to be of great antiquity and are not included within the
scheduling, however the foundations of the wall, which may include footings of
a medieval wall, are included.
The monument is thought to be medieval in date and is interpreted as part of
the boundary around Newlass monastic grange, a sheep farm owned by Rievaulx
Abbey that was centred on the west side of Moll Dawson's Slack at New Leys
Farm, 1km to the south. The earthworks of the core of Newlass grange form a
separate scheduling. In form this dyke is very similar to a number of
prehistoric boundary dykes on the North York Moors and Tabular Hills, however
its location in the landscape is unusual for a prehistoric dyke which would
more typically cut across an area of high ground rather than follow a fold in
the hillside. The way that the dyke does not extend onto the moorland also
suggests that it is not prehistoric.
All fence posts, and the above-ground portions of the drystone wall are
excluded from the scheduling; however, the ground beneath these features is

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

Medieval boundary dykes are substantial linear earthworks, typically
comprising of a bank and ditch or double bank and ditch. They are recognised
as earthworks, as cropmarks on aerial photographs, or as combinations of both.
They are sometimes referred to in early documents. In earthwork form they can
be confused with prehistoric dykes, and indeed some may be prehistoric in
origin, reused at a later date. Medieval boundary dykes were constructed
throughout the Anglo-Saxon and post-Norman Conquest periods as boundary
markers for large estates, townships or other areas of the landscape. Some had
an additional defendsive or other role which can sometimes be identified by
the specialist design of the earthwork. An example of this are the boundaries
to medieval deer parks which are also known as deer leaps, their asymmetric
design in cross-section allowed deer to pass into the park but not escape
again. Medieval boundary dykes required considerable investment in labour to
construct. They are of considerable importance for the analysis of
contemporary settlement and land use patterns. Relatively few examples have
survived as earthworks to the present day and hence all well preserved
examples will be identified as being nationally important and will merit
statutory protection.
The linear boundary earthwork, 370m east of Oscar Park Farm is very well
preserved. Its importance is heightened by its association with Newlass, a
grange of Rievaulx Abbey, with its very well preserved core adjacent to New
Leys Farm 1km to the south.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Spratt, D A, Linear Earthworks of the Tabular Hills: North East Yorkshire, (1989), 21

Source: Historic England

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