Out & About …

… on the North York Moors, or wherever I happen to be.

Fryup Heads

An “isolated eminence”, according to the Rev. Canon Atkinson1Atkinson, Rev. J. C. “Forty years in a moorland parish; reminiscences and Researches in Danby in Cleveland”. Page 414. 1891., seems an elegant way of describing the hill known as Heads, which separates the dales of Little and Great Fryup.

Although designated ‘Open Access Land‘ there are few ways up onto the hill, consequently, it seems quiet and little walked. But historically it has been well used. Field systems, ditches, clearance cairns and earthworks survive as evidence of prehistoric cultivation2North York Moors Historic Environment Record (HER) Nos: 12297/12301/12306/12319.

Some of these are recent discoveries and it is suggested that it is highly likely that there were once also larger burial cairns on this ridge. However, none survives today3A.F. Harding, J. Ostoja-Zagórski, Elizabeth Healey, Judith Turner & M.J. Alexander (1994) Prehistoric and Early Medieval Activity on Danby Rigg, North Yorkshire, Archaeological Journal, 151:1, 16-97, DOI: 10.1080/00665983.1994.11078120 Page 66/68.

Several walls run up the west side of the hill and one particularly continues right over into Great Fryup Dale. While the wall in the photo is obviously post-medieval probably dating from the period of enclosures, it has been speculated that these cross-ridge walls may follow much older boundaries belonging to a prehistoric ‘coaxial’ field system4Ibid. Page 50

‘Coaxial’ field systems are characterised by uniformly small, square or rectangular field plots, and aligned along a particular dominant axis or at right angles to it, giving an almost grid-like layout. On occasion, and strikingly relevant here, this axial geometry is adhered to regardless of the underlying topography5Field Systems Introductions to Heritage Assets. [n.d.]. <https://historicengland.org.uk/images-books/publications/iha-field-systems/heag204-field-systems/#:~:text=Described%20as%20> [accessed 15 February 2023].



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