Natural Landscape Feature and Bronze Age Earthworks
Northeast of Pickering, North Yorkshire OS Map Ref SE845935
OS Maps - Landranger 94 (Whitby & Esk Dale), Explorer OL27 (North York Moors - Eastern Area)
The Hole of Horcum is a massive natural amphitheatre that was carved out of the rock of the North Yorkshire Moors by the action of glacial ice flows - an interesting place in itself but also the location of much activity during the prehistoric period. It is situated at the western end of the ancient trackway known as the 'Old Wife's Way' which leads east towards Blakey Topping and it is also the location of several Bronze Age round barrows, dykes and settlement sites further to the southwest on Levisham Moor.
Gallows Dike consists of a 3 metre wide and roughly 2 metre deep ditch with eroded 4 metre wide banks on either side that runs roughly north-south over a small raised section of land close to a kink in the A169 road on Saltergate Moor. There are 3 round barrows close by and it is possible that as well as being burial monuments they could also have served as territorial markers - they are probably slightly later in date than the bank and ditches. There are also several cross dykes running northwest to southeast further to the southwest beyond the Hole of Horcum and these also have round barrows nearby or associated with them. A much damaged series of banks and ditches known as Horcum Dikes also run north-south along the east side of the glacial hollow.
To the southwest of Levisham Moor there are several burial mounds and further later Iron Age earthworks, there are also associated field systems and enclosed settlement areas, one of which showed evidence of being involved in iron making and thought to have been in use well into the Roman period.
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