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Part of a cross dyke with associated warrening features, 850m south east of High Rigg Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Thornton-le-Dale, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.2822 / 54°16'56"N

Longitude: -0.665 / 0°39'53"W

OS Eastings: 487013.185291

OS Northings: 488220.36157

OS Grid: SE870882

Mapcode National: GBR RLSX.TP

Mapcode Global: WHGBW.RMJJ

Entry Name: Part of a cross dyke with associated warrening features, 850m south east of High Rigg Farm

Scheduled Date: 24 April 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020651

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35172

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Thornton-le-Dale

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire


The monument includes the surviving part of a cross dyke which is situated
in Dalby Forest, on the central plateau of the Tabular Hills. The cross
dyke runs NNW to SSE across the converging ridges of Sneverdale Rigg and
Housedale Rigg, between the valleys of Seive Dale and House Dale. It forms
part of a network of prehistoric linear boundaries which is surrounded by
many other prehistoric monuments, particularly burials. Also included in
the monument are the boundary of a warrening enclosure incorporating a
rabbit trap and a segment of warren boundary, both of which overlie the
cross dyke.
The cross dyke consists of a ditch, which runs between two parallel banks
of earth and stone. The banks are up to 3m wide and stand up to 0.5m high.
The eastern bank has largely been levelled by past forestry activities so
that in many places it is no longer visible as an earthwork. The ditch is
3m-4m wide and between 0.7m and 1m deep, measured from the tops of the
adjacent banks. The cross dyke terminates at its southern end at the top
of the steeper slope into House Dale. The surviving earthworks terminate
at the northern end of the monument at a forestry track; to the north of
this track the cross dyke was levelled by ploughing in the 19th century so
that now there are no identifiable remains.
The segment of warren boundary crosses the northern end of the surviving
part of the cross dyke in a WNW to ESE direction. It consists of an
earthen bank with a ditch on its southern side. The bank is 0.4m high and
has a shallow slope to the north and a steep slope into the ditch. The
ditch is 0.9m deep, measured from the top of the bank, and cuts through
the banks of the cross dyke. Originally the bank would have been
surmounted by a dry stone wall, but over the years this has collapsed and
been robbed so that there are no longer any traces along this segment. It
is thought that this boundary segment formed part of the northern boundary
of Low Dalby warren in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The warrening enclosure is situated in the centre of the monument. The
enclosure boundary has a continuous bank of earth and stone which is up to
3m wide and 0.5m high; on the northern and southern sides of the
enclosure, the bank stands up to 1m high when measured to the south. The
bank forming the eastern side of the enclosure overlies the western bank
of the cross dyke. The enclosure bank was originally surmounted by a dry
stone wall. On the northern side of the enclosure the wall survives,
standing up to 0.8m high, but elsewhere it has collapsed and been robbed.
Along the eastern side of the enclosure the lower courses of the wall
retain the enclosure bank. In the northern boundary of the enclosure, the
wall has a 3m wide break which would have been an entrance. The boundary
encloses a rectangular area which has internal dimensions of 133m east to
west by 48m north to south. On the inside of the western side of the
enclosure, 20m to the north of the south west corner, there is a rabbit
trap. This is visible as a sub-oval pit up to 3m long north to south by 2m
wide, and measuring 0.7m in depth. Originally the pit would have been
stone-lined, but over the years the pit has become filled in and the
lining is no longer visible. The warrening enclosure lies within Low Dalby
warren and is thought to date from the 18th or 19th century. Two forestry
tracks cross the southern part of the monument in an east to west
direction. The surfaces of these tracks 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.

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
Despite limited disturbance, this cross dyke 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.
A warren is an area of land set aside for the breeding and management of
rabbits or hares in order to provide a constant supply of fresh meat and
skins. Although the hare is an indigenous species, the tradition of warren
construction and use dates from the 12th century, following the
introduction of rabbits into England from the continent. Many warrens were
enclosed by a bank, hedge or wall intended to contain and protect the
stock. Other features associated with the warren include vermin traps
(usually a dead-fall mechanism within a small tunnel), and more rarely
traps for the warren stock (known in Yorkshire as `types') which could
contain the animals unharmed and allow for selective culling. Early
warrens were mostly associated with the higher levels of society;
however, they gradually spread in popularity so that by the 16th and 17th
centuries they were a common feature on most manors and estates throughout
the country. Warrens continued in use until fairly recent times, finally
declining in the face of 19th and 20th century changes in agricultural
practice, and the onset of myxomatosis. Warrens are found in all parts of
England, the earliest examples lying in the southern part of the country.
Approximately 1,000 - 2,000 examples are known nationally with
concentrations in upland areas, on heathland and in coastal zones. The
profits from a successfully managed warren could, however, be considerable
and many areas in lowland England were set aside for warrens at the
expense of agricultural land. Although relatively common, warrens are
important for their associations with other classes of monument, including
various forms of settlement, deer parks, field systems and fishponds. They
may also provide evidence of the economy of both secular and
ecclesiastical estates. All well-preserved medieval examples are
considered worthy of protection. A sample of well-preserved sites of later
date will also merit protection.
These warrening features are good and well-documented examples of a common
activity on the Tabular Hills in the 18th and 19th centuries. Their
importance is enhanced by their stratigraphic association with a cross

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Northern Archaeological Associates, , North York Moors Forest Survey Phase Two, (1996)
Northern Archaeological Associates, , North York Moors Forest Survey Phase Two, (1996)
Spratt, D A, Linear Earthworks of the Tabular Hills: North East Yorkshire, (1989), 38
Harris, A, Spratt, D A, 'Yorkshire Archaeological Journal' in The Rabbit Warrens of the Tabular Hills, North Yorkshire, , Vol. 63, (1991), 177-206

Source: Historic England

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