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Stone and earth bank on Downs Pasture

Click on images below to enlarge

Downs Pasture boundary bank showing its double orthostat construction

YDNPA 2010,

Downs Pasture boundary bank where it meets a natural gritstone outcrop

YDNPA 2010,


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Stone and earth bank on Downs Pasture

Historical Environment Record No: MYD55363

Parish: Grassington

OS Grid Reference: SE011673

Dale: Upper Wharfedale

Link to Archaeology Data Service:
http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/catalogue/collections/blurbs/420.cfm

Description

The remains of a 300 metre long stone and earth bank traverse the hillside on Downs Pasture, running in a north-west/south-east direction. Although the date of its construction is unknown and it may be of later construction, the way it is built and its place in the landscape suggest a prehistoric origin. The northern end starts near a prominent ridge of limestone known as Green Hill. This is one of the highest parts of the moor in this area and carries distinctive limestone vegetation. The remains of the bank form a complex pattern at this end, traversing a sink hole and altering direction. It then heads off in a south-easterly direction, though it is difficult to trace for 50 metres. After the gap it can be followed quite easily, particularly where heather burning has recently taken place. Part of the southern end may have been robbed out to provide some of the stone for a nineteenth century sheepfold and bield wall.

The bank is of shallow construction, though its base is probably hidden deep in the peaty soil which submerges many of the stones. It averages 1m wide and about half a metre high. Occasionally it displays signs of double orthostatic construction, with facing stones on either side. Another feature is the way in which natural boulders and erratics are incorporated into its length. At one point the bank arrives on the edge of a large sinkhole in the middle of the moor. It picks up again on the opposite side and continues on its way for another 100 metres in the same south-easterly direction before finally petering out. The purpose of this bank is unknown, but it may have been a boundary to define grazing areas or zones of different activities for local communities during the Iron Age or earlier.

Location

From Grassington take the road to Yarnbury, and then the bridleway to Conistone which turns off to the north-west just beyond the hamlet. Follow the lane for nearly a kilometre until you come to a gate and enter open moorland. 150m further on a narrow public footpath crosses the track heading north-east towards Gill House. Follow this footpath for 600 metres into the next moorland enclosure, until you come to a sheepfold on your right. The southern most tip of the boundary bank starts on the hillside to your left about 60m away to the north-east. The stones are only clearly visible from a distance if there has been recent heather burning.

For further details on Access Land see the Countryside Access website www.openaccess.gov.uk. Select OS grid reference on the home page and type in the grid reference listed above. This will give you a printable map of the area, as well as details concerning access. Public rights of way are unaffected by changes in access status.

Public Transport Details

Nearest town/village: Grassington. Call Traveline on 0870 608 2 608 to plan your journey. After the welcome message key in 885 for North Yorkshire information.

Accessibility

The lane and path can be rough and wet in places. On the moorland there are gates, and a deep drainage channel to cross.

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