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Castle Hills prehistoric settlement, field system and medieval wood banks

A Scheduled Monument in Micklefield, Leeds

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.7843 / 53°47'3"N

Longitude: -1.3147 / 1°18'53"W

OS Eastings: 445248.611255

OS Northings: 432219.895593

OS Grid: SE452322

Mapcode National: GBR MS8P.54

Mapcode Global: WHDBT.S44P

Entry Name: Castle Hills prehistoric settlement, field system and medieval wood banks

Scheduled Date: 2 July 1999

Last Amended: 11 August 2017

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019403

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31531

County: Leeds

Civil Parish: Micklefield

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Micklefield St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: York

Summary

Iron Age field system with an enclosed settlement and associated hollow way surviving as earthworks within an area of ancient woodland, overlain by earthworks related to medieval woodland management, with further associated buried remains surviving as cropmarks in the eastern portion of the monument.

Source: Historic England

Details

PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS: the western part of the monument includes upstanding earthworks and associated buried remains of an Iron Age field system with an enclosed settlement and associated hollow way within an area of ancient woodland, overlain by earthworks related to medieval woodland management. The field system and other features extend into the eastern part of the monument as cropmarks, surviving as buried archaeological remains.

DESCRIPTION: the field system is extensive and well-preserved. It is composed of a complex of lynchets and broad banks forming irregular quadrangular fields. At Castle Hills, at the summit of a ridge, is a sub-rectangular embanked enclosed settlement 47m by 37m. The enclosure bank is 9m wide and 0.5m high. North of the settlement is a hollow way 13m wide and up to 1m deep. This hollow way crosses the field system from east south east to west north west, becoming multiple at its eastern end where it splits into three approximately parallel courses. The field system, the enclosure and the hollow way appear to be contemporary with each other. The cropmark features, situated on a slight rise, stretch for 450m and comprise a linear arrangement of small curvilinear enclosures, typically 35m in length and 20m wide, laying either side of a sinuous east-west trackway. Some of the enclosures appear to be linked, others overlap and some remain isolated. The trackway clearly lines up with the hollow way, suggesting that some if not all of these cropmark features are contemporary with the earthworks in the western part of the monument.

The monument also includes two linear earthworks, probably prehistoric in origin, thought to have been used for medieval woodland management. These wood banks take the form of ditches 5m to 6m wide and up to 0.8m deep, with banks on one or both sides. For most of their length the wood banks are sinuous and the banks are slight, typically 3m to 4m wide and up to 0.2m high. In some stretches, however, the wood bank is straight and has a well-defined bank on one side, up to 0.5m high. The southern-most of these wood banks is followed by the township boundary between Micklefield and Ledston. Excavation through the ditch to the west of the monument (in the area now covered by the A1(M)) uncovered a small quantity of Romano-British pottery. The more northern wood bank takes a sinuous course, running approximately north east from the west corner of the wood, to the south west corner of a quarry, south of the railway line which runs along the northern boundary of the monument. Near its south western end this wood bank cuts through the hollow way, indicating that this section post-dates the main route way through the prehistoric field system.

AREA OF MONUMENT: the constraint line is drawn to enclose both the earthworks and cropmarks of the prehistoric field system, enclosures, trackway, hollow way, and medieval woodbanks. On the west side the constraint line runs along the edge of the wood. On the east side the constraint line runs along the edge of the wood as far as the east-west field track and then runs eastwards from the end of this track across open fields to the corner of the quarry and then south to the north side of Highfield Lane, following the lane westwards to join the south-east corner of Castle Hills Wood. Highfield Lane and the quarry are excluded from the constraint area, as is an enclosure for a telephone mast at the south eastern corner of the monument. The remains of a trackway and associated enclosures are known to extend further east into an area with extant (1993) permission for quarrying. Adequate provision for dealing with these remains through the planning permission have been provided and consequently they are not included in the monument. On the north side of Highroyds Wood the constraint line is drawn along the south side of the railway line, and the quarry, so that the railway and the quarry lie outside the constraint area, on the south side the constraint line is drawn leaving a margin of 2m on the south side of the southern bank of the woodbank which is followed by the township boundary. The area thus defined is depicted on the 1:10000 map extract.

Excavations in 2003 to the west of the monument identified further archaeological remains (known as site C4SA). These were dated to the Romano British period and although preserved in-situ, as they are later than those of the monument, being of a nationally more common site type, they have not been included in the designation.

Excavations in 2003 to the south of the monument also identified further archaeological remains (known as site M). Although this included Iron Age settlement remains, these were excavated, and the site is now beneath the A1(M) motorway. Again this area has not been included in the designation.

EXCLUSIONS: fence and gate posts within the area of the monument are excluded, although the ground beneath is included in the scheduling. Fence lines used to define the boundaries of the scheduled monument lie immediately outside of the designated area.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Castle Hills prehistoric settlement, field system and medieval wood banks centred 600m east of Newton Farm is scheduled for the following principal reasons:

* Period, survival and rarity: as a rare lowland survival of prehistoric settlement and field system earthworks, combined with an area of cropmark remains of an unusual form for the region;
* Diversity: that prehistoric earthworks appear to have been adapted for woodland management in the medieval period, with one reused as a township boundary, still persisting as a modern parish boundary.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Oxford Archaeology North, , Archaeology of the A1 (M) Darrington to Dishforth DBFO Road Scheme, (2007), 81-117

Source: Historic England

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