Ancient Monuments

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Two segments of a prehistoric linear boundary 530m north and 200m north east of Beacon Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Irton, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.2721 / 54°16'19"N

Longitude: -0.4504 / 0°27'1"W

OS Eastings: 501005.594

OS Northings: 487379.7259

OS Grid: TA010873

Mapcode National: GBR TM91.8B

Mapcode Global: WHGC0.1WS9

Entry Name: Two segments of a prehistoric linear boundary 530m north and 200m north east of Beacon Farm

Scheduled Date: 15 April 2004

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021236

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35903

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Irton

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Scarborough St Luke

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes two segments of a prehistoric linear boundary,
situated close to the northern scarp edge of the Tabular Hills at their
eastern limit. The two segments are in two separate areas of protection.

The northern boundary segment runs for 220m in an approximate NNW to SSE
direction, parallel to the top of Row Brow which lies to the east. The
southern segment runs on a slightly curved course, from north to SSE. The
northern segment and the northern part of the southern segment occupy
level ground, but the southern part of the southern segment lies on a very
gentle south-facing slope. Both segments survive as earthworks and buried
remains which have an overall maximum width of 11m. Originally each
segment had a ditch flanked by two parallel banks constructed of earth and
stone, but in places these have been damaged or part-levelled so that the
earthworks are not fully visible, although the ditch will survive as a
buried feature. In the northern segment, the ditch and western bank have
largely been levelled by their use as a footpath and bridleway, although
at either end of the segment the western bank survives and stands up to
0.2m high, and the ditch is visible as a shallow depression which is up to
1m deep, measured from the top of the adjacent eastern bank. The eastern
bank stands up to 0.8m high and is used to mark the boundary between the
modern parishes of Irton and Scarborough.

The earthworks in the northern segment are breached at their southern end
by a former vehicle track which is now fenced-off. For the southern
segment, clear earthworks survive in the southern section and for a 25m
length at the northern end, with the banks standing 0.3m-0.4m high and the
ditch measuring 0.5m-0.7m in depth from the tops of the adjacent banks.
Between these two stretches, the banks have largely been levelled by
modern agriculture and survive only as very slight earthworks along the
line of the western bank, adjacent to and beneath a modern field boundary,
and on the line of the eastern bank beneath a modern east-west field
boundary towards the northern end of the segment. In this area, the ditch
survives largely as a buried feature, which is visible in places as a
shallow depression. In the southern part of the southern segment the
earthworks have been disturbed in places by tree planting and related
activities, and they are breached by three former field boundary lines,
each consisting of a small ditch and bank. At the extreme northern end of
the southern segment, the earthworks have been breached by the route of a
former footpath. To the south of this, the 1854 edition of the Ordnance
Survey map depicts an oval-shaped enclosure immediately to the east of the
line of the earthworks, which is thought to have been a pond of
post-medieval date; the curving perimeter bank of this feature interrupts
the line of the prehistoric boundary and is visible as an earthwork to the
east. The former course of the prehistoric boundary to which these
segments belong can be reconstructed from the evidence of old maps and
aerial photographs. It is thought to have run from the scarp edge in the
north, where earthworks are visible running down the steep scarp slope
into Raincliffe Woods, to Seamer Moor in the south. No earthworks are
visible to the immediate north and south of each of these two segments.
The monument belongs to a network of prehistoric boundaries which is
surrounded by many other prehistoric monuments, especially burial and
ritual monuments.

All fence posts along modern field boundaries crossing and running along
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

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 reused 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 from agriculture, tree planting and footpaths,
the two segments of the prehistoric linear boundary 530m north and 200m
north east of Beacon Farm have survived well. 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
surviving banks.

The prehistoric boundary belongs to a network of prehistoric boundaries,
dividing the area to the south of the scarp edge of the Tabular Hills,
between their eastern limit and Forge Valley in the west. It is thought to
represent a system of territorial land division which was constructed to
augment natural divisions of the landscape by river valleys and watersheds
and it is one of many such groups found on the Tabular Hills. This
particular group has several associated boundaries, including the one to
which these boundary segments belong, which have stratigraphic
relationships with each other and these are important for understanding
the development of land division in the later prehistoric period. The
network of boundaries lies within a concentration of prehistoric monuments
which date from the Neolithic period and includes many burial and ritual
monuments. Networks and associations such as these offer important scope
for the study of land use for social, ritual and agricultural purposes at
different times during the prehistoric period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Spratt, D A, Linear Earthworks of the Tabular Hills: North East Yorkshire, (1989), 60-64
Title: Ordnance Survey 1st Edition 6" sheet 77
Source Date: 1854

Source: Historic England

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