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Grassington’s ancient fields – The High Close Field Survey 2009

Funded by a range of heritage bodies (including Grassroots Grants, the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust, English Heritage and the Community Foundation), and run under the auspices of the Yorkshire Dales Landscape Research Trust, this is an ambitious project to survey the complex earthworks in High Close, an enclosed field just north of the Dales town of Grassington.

Several working parties have undertaken preliminary field surveys, including several members of the UWHG, during the spring and autumn of 2009. Initial results of the project include:

  • A set of GPS reference points have been established for use in future survey work

  • A gazetteer of significant topographical and archaeological features within High Close. These have been entered into an Excel spreadsheet for future reference

  • Identification of significant features and complex areas requiring more detailed survey

  • Variations from the 1966 aerial photograph transcription were noted and indicated on a revised plan.

  • Surface finds were found in mole-hills and rabbit scrapes, including a retouched flint, a small flint flake and a stone flake that may have been struck from a polished stone axe. The location of each object was logged by GPS

  • Several profiles of the enclosure drystone wall have been taken including measurements, cross-section drawings and descriptive profiles of construction. Comparisons will be made between this early private enclosure wall and the later, more standardised walls of neighbouring fields which belong to the mid-nineteenth century Parliamentary enclosure movement.

  • A start has been made on the topographical survey of probable archaeological features within the field .

Recording the profile of the High Close pasture surrounding walls

The completion of the topographical survey of High Close during the autumn was complemented by an oral history project to record some of the more recent history of agricultural practices in the area. The project will resume in the autumn 2010

Please note that High Close is private land. The best way to view the earthworks therefore is via the aerial views online on Google satellite maps at: or on Google Earth.


Read the High Close blog here

Online sources:

For a brief overview of antiquarian activity in High Close see the of Dr Martlew’s presentation held in Grassington in April 2009

Project could re-write Dales farming history - Craven Herald report

UWHG online blog for the High Close survey 2009 – 

Yorkshire Dales Landscape Research Trust – High Close website pages

Historic Environment Record – High Close field systems and Bronze Age cairn

Printed sources:

Curwen, Eliot – “Ancient cultivations at Grassington, Yorkshire” (Antiquity, V6 N6, pp.168-172, 1928

Alan King – “Early Grassington: An Archaeological and Historical Trail” (Yorkshire Archaeological Society, 1995)

Agate, E., et al – “Dry stone walling; a practical handbook” (BCTV, 2nd ed. 2004; available for loan for UWHG members from the Group library)

Jane Lunnon, UWHG Archivist

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