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Tag Bale Hill enclosure

Click on images below to enlarge

View of Tag Bale Hill (centre in partial shadow) from Grimwith Reservoir

© YDNPA 2010,

Detail of the enclosure at Tag Bale with Grimwith Reservoir in the distance to the south-east

© YDNPA 2010,

Detail of the enclosure at Tag Bale

© YDNPA 2010,

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Tag Bale Hill enclosure

Historical Environment Record No: MYD55372

Parish: Hebden

OS Grid Reference: SE053668

Dale: Upper Wharfedale

Link to Archaeology Data Service:


This prehistoric enclosure of unknown date on the summit of the flat-topped summit known as Tag Bale Hill was only recently identified. The enclosure itself is formed by a low snaking bank of large stones and rocks. This is about a metre wide and in parts incorporates substantial boulders taken from the scree slopes around the hill and manoeuvred into position. It extends over about half the hilltop, the side closest to the valley of Gateup Gill. There are no visible structures inside the enclosure and, most unusually, there appears to be no entrance: the stone bank is uninterrupted throughout its course, and the precipitous rock and scree slope provide no point of access. A couple of very slight low cairns lie to the west on the summit plateau, but other than these, there is nothing to indicate its date or function. While it is possible that the enclosure was built much later, the most likely date is Iron Age or earlier. It is a vivid reminder of how little we understand the prehistory of this area.

The name Tag Bale itself is of some interest. The hill is in the centre of the lead mining area which stretches from Greenhow in Nidderdale to Grassington and beyond in Wharfedale. ‘Bale’ or bale hill is the local word for an open lead smelt site. These were frequently located on hillsides to take full advantage of the prevailing wind. Bales were superseded by smelt mills in the 17th century, and the name ‘bale’ is generally thought to be indicative of medieval smelting. The place-name ‘Tag’ is unique in the Dales, and may contain a fragment of an earlier name by which the hill was known.


Tag Bale hill is visible from Grimwith reservoir. There are parking facilities at the reservoir, which is accessed off the B6265 from Grassington to Pateley Bridge, near Dibbles Bridge. Park at the car park at Grimwith and start walking around the reservoir in an anti-clockwise direction, following the footpath over the dam. This joins a trackway which follows the western edge of the water. Follow the track round to the bottom of Gateup Gill. Tag Bale Hill lies a kilometre due north.

For further details on Access Land see the Countryside Access website 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: Hebden. Call Traveline on 0870 608 2 608 to plan your journey. After the welcome message key in 885 for North Yorkshire information.


The paths and tracks around Grimwith reservoir are usually in good condition, though some parts can be wet underfoot. The moorland areas are extremely rough going with rocks and deep vegetation. There is no direct path up Tag Bale, but a good view of it can be had from near the reservoir.

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