Graham Vasey & I travelled across the fertile rolling ridges of the Howardian Hills to meet up with Graeme Chappell at the Dalby Turf Maze, the smallest turf maze in Europe. A passing cyclist smiled and shouted “crop circle” at us.
We left the maze and drove north to have a look around an earthwork enclosure on the edge of Ampleforth Moor known as Studfold Ring.Very little is known about the earthwork, this is from Historic England’s PastScape database
Small earthwork enclosure consisting of an inner ditch and outer bank with a single east-facing entrance. Possibly a hengiform monument or Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age stock enclosure. The freshness of the earthworks indicate it has been restored in the Medieval period, probably as a horse coraal as suggested by the name Studfold. Scheduled.
The earthwork is set in a landscape that shows evidence of occupation from at least the late Neolithic period. The map above is an extract from the 1889 OS map showing the location of the earthworks, a number of late Neolithic / Early Bronze Age barrow groups and the large linear earthwork known as Double Dykes. The two mile long linear earthwork can be traced running over two ridges and could be classed a large cross ridge dyke enclosing an area of prehistoric activity.
A footpath runs beside the earthwork, we crossed the field and entered the large grassy enclosure. There are no traces of the barrows that were recorded in the area.The bank and internal ditch remain intact on all four sides and the bank is lined with trees on three sidesSmall erosion patches on the banks show that they are constructed of earth and stones.This is a strange place and it is quite difficult to know what to make of it. It has been a few years since I was last here, it seems smaller that I remember it. Graeme, who had not seen the site before, remarked that it was larger than he thought it would be.
In the late 1970s Tinkler and Spratt excavated an Iron Age enclosure on Great Ayton Moor. This enclosure was a similar size to Studfold and also had a bank with an internal ditch. In their discussion they cited Studfold as a similar earthwork. I guess no one will know the true nature of this lovely site until a formal excavation is undertaken.
A History of Helmsley Rievaulx and District by the Helmsley and Area Group of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society. 1968
An Iron Age Enclosure on Great Ayton Moor by B N Tinkler & D A Spratt The Yorkshire Archaeological Journal Vol.50 1978
Map and Aerial View Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland