Ancient Monuments

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Cross dyke 900m west of Backleys Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Broxa-cum-Troutsdale, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.3006 / 54°18'2"N

Longitude: -0.5901 / 0°35'24"W

OS Eastings: 491849.731459

OS Northings: 490359.198845

OS Grid: SE918903

Mapcode National: GBR SLBQ.13

Mapcode Global: WHGBX.X55F

Entry Name: Cross dyke 900m west of Backleys Farm

Scheduled Date: 10 October 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020534

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34684

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Broxa-cum-Troutsdale

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Snainton St Stephen

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes the surviving part of a cross dyke which is situated in
Dalby Forest, towards the northern edge of the Tabular Hills. The cross dyke
runs NNW to SSE across the ridge between Deep Dale and Freeze Gill.
The cross dyke consists of two approximately parallel ditches, each of which
runs between two banks of earth and stone. The banks are up to 4m wide and
stand between 0.3m and 0.6m high. The ditches are also up to 4m wide and are
between 0.7m and 1.7m deep, measured from the tops of their adjacent banks.
Towards the north, the ditches have steep-sided profiles, but further south
the cross dyke has been damaged by forestry activities so that the ditches are
more open and rounded, and the banks are lower. Separating the two sets of
ditches and banks there is a gap, which widens from 4m at the southern end to
8m at the northern end. Together the earthworks have an overall width of
28m-32m. The eastern ditch and banks terminate at their northern end at the
top of the steep slope into Deep Dale. The western ditch and banks terminate
30m to the south of the eastern ditch, although the terminal has been slightly
truncated by a forestry track which cuts through the cross dyke. Towards the
southern end of the monument, the cross dyke has been breached by an old
footpath. The surviving earthworks terminate at the southern end of the
monument at a second forestry track; to the south of this track, the
cross dyke was levelled by ploughing in the 19th century and subsequent
forestry so that now there are no identifiable remains. The monument forms
part of a network of prehistoric linear boundaries which are surrounded by
many other prehistoric monuments, particularly burial sites.
The surface of the forestry track crossing the northern part of the monument
is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it 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 limited disturbance, the cross dyke 900m west of Backleys 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. Evidence for earlier land use will be preserved in the old
ground surface beneath the banks.
The eastern Tabular Hills is an area which has many networks of prehistoric
land boundaries. These are thought to represent systems of territorial land
division which were constructed to augment natural divisions of the landscape
by river valleys and watersheds. The Dalby Forest and Scamridge areas have a
particular concentration which is thought to have originated in the Late
Neolithic or Early Bronze Age, earlier than most other prehistoric boundary
systems on the Tabular Hills. The networks within this concentration, and many
of their component boundaries, are notably complex and are of considerable
importance for understanding the development of later prehistoric society in
eastern Yorkshire.
This cross dyke is part of the system of boundaries dividing the area between
Troutsdale in the south and the scarp edge of the Tabular Hills in the north.
Stratigraphic relationships between the components of the cross dyke will
survive and will provide evidence for the sequence of construction and
development of the boundary system.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Northern Archaeological Associates, , North York Moors Forest Survey Phase Two, (1996)
Spratt, D A, Linear Earthworks of the Tabular Hills: North East Yorkshire, (1989), 50-51
Title: Ordnance Survey 2nd Edition 25" sheet 76/12
Source Date: 1912

Source: Historic England

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