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Far Gregory enclosures

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© YDNPA 2010,

© YDNPA 2010,


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Far Gregory enclosures

Historical Environment Record No: MYD4018

Parish: Grassington

OS Grid Reference: SD988654

Dale: Lower Wharfedale

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

Description

This complex of stone built enclosures on top of the Far Gregory ridge in Grass Wood was interpreted in the nineteenth century as a prehistoric fort and was wrongly presumed to have been built as a defensive structure by the native Brigantian tribe during the early decades of the Roman conquest. Today, while the enclosures are believed to be of prehistoric origin, we are less sure about their original purpose and function. This is partly because this is an unusual site and there is little in the area to compare it with. However, the defensive interpretation seems unlikely, given the fact that the site is overlooked by a higher part of the ridge to the north-west. Nonetheless, its position at the end of a ridge and distanced from the adjacent land by steep slopes and shallow limestone cliffs appears to have been carefully chosen. The core of the site is formed by three compartments, covering an area some 35 metres long (east west) and 17 metres wide (north-south), spread over the southern tip of the ridge. If the hillside were not so well wooded, there would be spectacular views from here across to the Aire valley near Skipton, and up and down the Wharfedale.

The enclosures survive today as linear heaps of rubble and stone in places up to three metres wide and a metre high, sometimes directly onto limestone bedrock. There are hints of coursed stonework under the rubble in one or two areas, suggesting the presence of more formal structures beneath the tumble. When partially excavated in the 1890’s by Ernest Speight and the Upper Wharfedale Exploration Committee only fragments of coarse pottery and burnt stones were found. The site is now a Scheduled Monument, and it is an offence to disturb the remains in any way.

Sources:
Speight E.E. (1894) ‘Upper Wharfedale Exploration Committee First Annual Report Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological and Polytechnic Society (1893) New Series X11, part 5, 374-84, Leeds
Raistrick Arthur (1937) ‘Iron-age settlements in West Yorkshire’ Yorkshire Archaeological Journal. Vol.34 pp115-50

Location

The enclosures are in the centre of Grass Wood to the north of Grassington. From Grassington turn off the B6265 by the Toffee Shop onto Grass Wood Lane. There is a small car park in a quarry on the right after about 1.5m. Enter the wood further along the lane at its northernmost corner. Follow the public footpath sign which says Grassington 2m. Keep to the main track as it climbs the hillside and swings round into the centre of the wood. After 2/3rds of a mile there is a meeting of tracks and a wooden signpost which indicates a right turn to the site. Follow the narrow path into the wood and up the steep slope to the top of the ridge. The enclosures are here.

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

A steep climb up through Grass Wood. Some footpaths in the wood are well-surfaces, others are muddy and rough with steps and steep slopes. The limestone is particularly slippy in wet weather.

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