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Three embanked pit alignments and segments of a linear boundary and a medieval hollow way, 300m west of Givendale Head Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Allerston, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.2752 / 54°16'30"N

Longitude: -0.6348 / 0°38'5"W

OS Eastings: 488991.956

OS Northings: 487480.106

OS Grid: SE889874

Mapcode National: GBR SM00.C6

Mapcode Global: WHGBX.6SYX

Entry Name: Three embanked pit alignments and segments of a linear boundary and a medieval hollow way, 300m west of Givendale Head Farm

Scheduled Date: 10 August 1923

Last Amended: 20 May 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020830

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35159

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Allerston

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Allerston St John

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes two adjoining pit alignments, a segment of a
post-medieval linear boundary which intersects the northern end of one of
them and a segment of medieval hollow way which crosses the centre of the
same pit alignment. Also included is the surviving part of a third pit
alignment. The pit alignments and linear boundary are situated in Dalby
Forest, on the central plateau of the Tabular Hills.
The pit alignments are of the type known as embanked pit alignments. They
each have a line of regularly-spaced and well-defined pits, which are
flanked by two parallel banks of earth and stone. The earthworks of each
alignment have an overall maximum width of 10m.
The first pit alignment lies in an approximate north to south direction,
curving out to the west in the centre. The pits are generally sub-oval,
although some are more sub-circular and some are squarish in shape. They
are spaced 3m apart, centre to centre, and there is a gap of 0.5m-1m
between each pit which is lower than the surrounding ground level. The
pits have an average width of 2m-3m and are up to 1.5m deep, but a few
have eroded up to 5m in diameter and up to 2m in depth. In the centre of
the pit alignment, some of the pits are waterlogged. The banks have
largely been levelled over the years by forestry operations, although
traces survive in the central part of the alignment where they stand up to
0.4m high. The pit alignment has been ploughed level at its southern end
where it extends into an arable field. The northern part of the alignment
has been breached by two forestry tracks; to the north of the southern
forestry track, the segment of medieval hollow way runs east to west
across the pit alignment, cutting through the banks. The hollow way is 5m
wide and up to 0.5m deep and it is thought to have been established
initially as a route between the monastic settlements at Lastingham and
The second pit alignment runs north east to south west from the centre of
the first alignment on its western side. There is a 5m gap between the
edge of the first pit and the edge of the nearest pit in the first
alignment. The second alignment has sub-circular pits, which are spaced 3m
apart, centre to centre. They are an average of 3m in diameter and are
0.7m-1m deep. Some of the pits are waterlogged. The banks survive up to
0.5m high, but in places are poorly defined where they have been damaged
by forestry operations. The pit alignment has been breached by a forestry
track and has a further breach to the north. The post-medieval boundary
segment is part of the boundary known as Wetmoor Dike. It runs
approximately eastwards for 100m from the edge of a forestry track and it
intersects the northern end of the first pit alignment. The junction with
the pit alignment has been disturbed by an old quarry. The boundary
segment survives as a rounded bank of earth and stone, 4m wide and
standing up to 0.9m high, which has a shallow ditch on its south side, up
to 2m wide and 0.3m deep. The Wetmoor Dike originally ran from the head of
Sand Dale in the west towards Troutsdale in the east, as far as the modern
division between the parishes of Allerston and Ebberston and Yedingham.
The third pit alignment lies to the immediate north of Wetmoor Dike and
has not previously been mapped. It runs approximately NNE to SSW. Parts of
the alignment have been damaged by forestry operations, but fragmentary
traces survive over a 220m length to the north of Wetmoor Dike. The pits
are slightly squarish and are spaced 2m-2.5m apart, centre to centre. They
average 2m-2.5m in width and are 0.8m-1.3m deep. The banks have a maximum
height of 0.3m. The alignment is segmented by two forestry tracks.
The monument lies in an area which has a history of land division dating
from the prehistoric period. The pit alignments form part of a network of
prehistoric boundaries which is surrounded by many other prehistoric
monuments, particularly burials. The post-medieval boundary segment forms
a sample of the network of such boundaries which were constructed from the
17th century onwards, to enclose the wastes in the township of Allerston.
The surfaces of the forestry tracks and the fence posts which cross the
monument are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all
these features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A pit alignment is a linear arrangement of fairly closely-spaced circular
or rectangular holes or pits over 1m in diameter. Some examples are
several kilometres long and some occur as part of a more complex linear
earthwork including linear ditches, slots, palisades and linear banks.
Once dug, the pits were left open as features which eroded and silted up
over a period of time. Nearly all pit alignments have been discovered from
aerial photography and survive as cropmarks or soilmarks. They are largely
found in river valleys in central and northern England, but they are also
common on the Yorkshire Wolds and are found in smaller numbers on other
light, freely-draining soils. Pit alignments probably formed boundaries.
Where excavated, they usually appear to be prehistoric in date, although
examples are also known from the Roman period. All examples surviving as
earthworks are considered to merit protection.
On the North York Moors several pit alignments have been identified with
surviving earthworks. These examples have been found to have a low bank on
either side of the line of pits and have been termed embanked pit
alignments (EPA). The EPAs 300m west of Givendale Head Farm are in a good
state of preservation. Despite limited disturbance, significant
information about the date and original form of the monument will be
preserved. Important environmental evidence will survive within the
waterlogged pit fills and evidence for earlier land use will survive
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. These EPAs are part of that concentration. They lie close to a
complex of similar EPAs which have been identified through survey work as
the earliest boundaries in this area. The relationships of this monument
with those boundaries and with the burial monuments in the landscape
surrounding them are important for understanding the chronological
development of land division during the later prehistoric period.
The segment of linear boundary 300m west of Givendale Head Farm is a
well-preserved and documented example of early post-medieval enclosure on
the Tabular Hills. It illustrates the process of physical division between
parishes of formerly common uplands, which took place in the late medieval
and early post-medieval periods. The boundary segment provides a sample of
a more extensive network of post-medieval boundaries within the parish of
Allerston. The continued use of many of the prehistoric boundaries during
the post-medieval period demonstrates their importance in the landscape.
The spatial relationships and difference in form between the post-medieval
and prehistoric boundaries in this area demonstrate the changing character
of landscape division over time.

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), 36-42
Spratt, D A, Linear Earthworks of the Tabular Hills: North East Yorkshire, (1989), 39-50
Winchester, A J L, The Harvest of the Hills, (2000), 26-51
Mytum, H, 'CBA Forum' in Pit alignments at Givendale Head, (1995), 34-35
Title: 1st Edition Ordnance Survey 6" sheet 92
Source Date: 1854

Source: Historic England

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