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Co-axial field boundaries, Swaledale

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Co-axial field boundary, Swaledale - aerial photo

YDNPA, 2004, (ANY 249/5)

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Co-axial field boundaries, Swaledale

Historical Environment Record No: MYD2479

Parish: Reeth, Fremington and Healaugh

OS Grid Reference: NZ055000

Dale: Swaledale

Link to Archaeology Data Service:


In Central Swaledale, archaeologists have discovered the remains of large, later prehistoric field systems consisting of long parallel banks running for great distances across moorland. These systems are known as co-axial field systems because of the long parallel field boundaries. It is not yet clear how far down the valley sides these moorland systems extended because they have largely been destroyed by later cultivation and wall building. The existence of such enormous field systems implies a considerable amount of central organisation. Dating so far is tentative but archaeologists think that at least some of the Swaledale system was laid out some time during the Iron Age.

North east of Reeth is the Marrick Moor system. This runs northwards from Fremington Edge, probably as far as Marske Beck. The parallel field boundaries run SSW-NNE over a sloping area of moorland known as Copperthwaite Allotment. The best defined and longest of the walls can be seen as a substantial stone bank, bleached white by long exposure to the elements. It crosses an area of heather and moss just 200 metres west of the trig point at 430 metres OD.
Fleming, Andrew (1998) Swaledale. Valley of the Wild River. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press


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