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Cross dyke in Cloughton Plantations, 550m and 890m north east of Gowland Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Cloughton, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.3515 / 54°21'5"N

Longitude: -0.4677 / 0°28'3"W

OS Eastings: 499691.386713

OS Northings: 496187.525807

OS Grid: SE996961

Mapcode National: GBR TL53.KW

Mapcode Global: WHGBL.SWHG

Entry Name: Cross dyke in Cloughton Plantations, 550m and 890m north east of Gowland Farm

Scheduled Date: 9 March 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019772

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34564

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Cloughton

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Cloughton and Burniston

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes a cross dyke which runs across a ridge of sandstone and
Moor Grit at the eastern edge of the North York Moors. The A171 runs NNW to
SSE across the monument and has destroyed this section of the dyke; the
monument therefore is split into two separate areas of protection.
The cross dyke starts at a stream head at the western end and runs in a north
easterly direction across Harmer Brow into a shallow stream valley, then
continues across a second spur of high ground and down into Morfar Dale at
the eastern end. It has a steep-sided ditch which runs between two parallel
earthen banks. To the west of the central stream valley, the ditch is up to
3m wide and 1.2m deep below the tops of the banks. At the south western end,
the banks are up to 3m wide and stand 0.5m high. Further to the east, within
the plantation, the banks are up to 3.5m wide but only 0.3m high; the north
west bank has been largely levelled by forestry operations so that it is now
no more than 0.2m high. For the last 50m down the steeper slope into the
central stream valley the earthworks have also been levelled and are no longer
visible, although their line is followed by a modern forestry drain. To the
east of the central stream valley most of the earthworks have been almost
levelled by forestry operations; only slight traces are visible on the level
ground on the top of the ridge and on the lower part of the western slope into
the stream valley. However, on the upper part of the western slope and on the
eastern slope into Morfar Dale the ditch is visible up to 4m wide and 1m deep
below the tops of the banks, which have a maximum width of 3.5m. The north
western bank is poorly defined and shallow on the western slope, but the south
eastern bank stands up to 0.5m high.
In addition to the sections which have been levelled by forestry operations,
there are a number of modern breaks in the cross dyke: a bridleway runs
across at the top of the slope into Morfar Dale; a second bridleway which
follows a forestry track snakes up the slope on the west side of the central
stream valley, crossing the monument three times; a forestry track runs along
the east side of the central stream, and there are two further breaks towards
the western end, one 20m wide and one 7m wide.
The cross dyke lies in an area where there are many other prehistoric
monuments, including ritual and funerary monuments as well as a settlement,
field systems and clearance cairns.
Field boundary walls cross the monument alongside the A171 road and at the
edge of the plantation towards the western end. These field boundary walls and
the surfaced forestry tracks which cross the monument 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

Cross dykes are substantial linear earthworks typically between 0.2km and 1km
long and comprising one or more ditches arranged beside and parallel to one or
more banks. They generally occur in upland situations, running across ridges
and spurs. They are recognised as earthworks or as cropmarks on aerial
photographs, or as combinations of both. The evidence of excavation and
analogy with associated monuments demonstrates that their construction spans
the millennium from the Middle Bronze Age, although they may have been re-used
later. Current information favours the view that they were used as territorial
boundary markers, probably demarcating land allotment within communities,
although they may also have been used as trackways, cattle droveways or
defensive earthworks. Cross dykes are one of the few monument types which
illustrate how land was divided up in the prehistoric period. They are of
considerable importance for any analysis of settlement and land use in the
Bronze Age. Very few have survived to the present day and hence all well-
preserved examples are considered to be of national importance.

Despite some disturbance the cross dyke in Cloughton Plantations, 550m and
890m north east of Gowland Farm, has survived well. Important environmental
evidence which can be used to date the cross dyke and determine contemporary
land use will be preserved within the lowest ditch fills. At the south western
end, the ditch is waterlogged and will preserve organic remains, which will
yield a wider range of environmental evidence. Evidence for earlier land use
will be preserved in the old ground surface beneath the banks. The lowest
ditch fills of the levelled sections will also preserve valuable environmental
evidence. This cross dyke is an unusual example of its type because it crosses
two spurs of higher ground separated by a small valley. The cross dyke is
associated with other prehistoric monuments including a settlement, field
systems and barrows, and it is thought to represent a territorial boundary.
Similar monument groups are known on the Tabular Hills to the south west and
in the west and northern areas of the North York Moors. Such groupings offer
important scope for the study of land division for social, ritual and
agricultural purposes during the prehistoric period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Spratt, D A, Linear Earthworks of the Tabular Hills: North East Yorkshire, (1989), 65-66

Source: Historic England

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