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Prehistoric linear boundary in Ellerburn Wood, 370m north west of St Hilda's Church

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

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Latitude: 54.2495 / 54°14'58"N

Longitude: -0.7126 / 0°42'45"W

OS Eastings: 483980.153191

OS Northings: 484526.853928

OS Grid: SE839845

Mapcode National: GBR RMG9.JF

Mapcode Global: WHGC2.0GY2

Entry Name: Prehistoric linear boundary in Ellerburn Wood, 370m north west of St Hilda's Church

Scheduled Date: 5 July 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020696

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35171

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Thornton-le-Dale

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire


The monument includes a prehistoric linear boundary which runs along the
top of the steep east-facing slope into Kirkdale Slack, towards the
southern edge of the Tabular Hills.
The boundary runs approximately north east to south west for 1.18km,
terminating on level ground at the head of the slack to the north east and
at a point where the slope becomes steeper to the south west. For the
northern 500m, the boundary has a ditch with a bank of earth and stone
along its eastern edge, which has an overall maximum width of 10m. The
bank stands up to 1.2m high and the ditch is up to 1m deep, although at
the extreme northern end the ditch has become filled in as a result of
ploughing in the corner of an arable field. For the southern 518m, the
boundary has two parallel steep-sided ditches, each with a bank of earth
and stone along its eastern edge, and it has an overall maximum width of
22m. The western ditch is a continuation of the ditch in the northern part
of the boundary. The eastern ditch is up to 2m deep from the top of the
western bank and up to 0.6m deep from the top of the eastern bank. The
eastern bank stands up to 1m high. At the northern end of the southern
part of the boundary, the two ditches and banks turn to the south east and
run down the slope for 60m, petering out at the bottom of the steep part
of the slope. The earthworks are shallower and not so well-defined for
this arm of the boundary, and there is an additional bank on the north
eastern side of the north eastern ditch. The ditches are up to 0.6m deep
and the banks stand up to 0.3m high, and this arm has an overall maximum
width of 22m. The boundary has been breached in four places by medieval
hollow ways. These are 3m-5m wide and up to 1.2m deep from the bottom of
the ditches which they cross. They run in a general north west to south
east direction down the slope and are interpreted as routes used for the
passage of animals between Ellerburn and pastures on the higher ground to
the west of the boundary. It is thought that they were in use from the
14th century onwards.
The monument forms part of a network of prehistoric linear boundaries
which is surrounded by many other prehistoric monuments, particularly
The field boundary wall which runs along the western edge of the western
ditch at its southern end, and also crosses the monument at its northern
end, and the surface of the track which crosses the north west to south
east arm of the boundary 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

Linear boundaries are substantial earthwork features comprising single or
multiple ditches and banks which may extend over distances varying between
less than 1km to over 10km. They survive as earthworks or as linear features
visible as cropmarks on aerial photographs or as a combination of both. The
evidence of excavation and study of associated monuments demonstrate that
their construction spans the millennium from the Middle Bronze Age, although
they may have been re-used later.
The scale of many linear boundaries has been taken to indicate that they were
constructed by large social groups and were used to mark important boundaries
in the landscape; their impressive scale displaying the corporate prestige of
their builders. They would have been powerful symbols, often with religious
associations, used to define and order the territorial holdings of those
groups who constructed them. Linear earthworks are of considerable importance
for the analysis of settlement and land use in the Bronze Age; all well
preserved examples will normally merit statutory protection.

Despite limited disturbance, the prehistoric linear boundary in Ellerburn
Wood, 370m north west of St Hilda's Church is in a good state of
preservation. Important environmental evidence which can be used to date
the boundary 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. Stratigraphic relationships
between the different components of the boundary will survive and provide
evidence for its sequence of construction and development. The linear
boundary is one of several boundaries dividing the area between Thornton
Dale in the east and Newton Dale in the west. It is thought to represent
part of a system of territorial land division which was constructed to
augment natural divisions of the landscape by river valleys and
watersheds. This system is one of many such groups of boundaries found on
the Tabular Hills. The boundary lies close to the site of an Iron Age cart
burial in an area which also includes other burial monuments. Networks
such as this offer important scope for the study of land use for social,
ritual and agricultural purposes during the later prehistoric period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Spratt, D A, Linear Earthworks of the Tabular Hills: North East Yorkshire, (1989), 29-32
Spratt, D A, Linear Earthworks of the Tabular Hills: North East Yorkshire, (1989), 29
Stead, I M, 'Antiquity' in A Chariot Burial on Pexton Moor, North Riding, , Vol. 33, (1959), 214-216

Source: Historic England

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