Since the last Ice Age 10,000 years ago, human activity has had a considerable influence on the landscape. Until about 4,000BC we were primarily “hunter gatherers” living from the natural environment.
Before the Roman Conquest, Britain was populated by Celtic Tribes. They normally lived behind enclosures with a patchwork of small fields reclaimed from forest or waste land. These tribes kept livestock, mostly sheep, and grew wheat and barley. During the Roman occupation, the native settlements changed very little.
When the Anglo-Saxons first arrived in the fifth century they gradually introduced the “Common Field System”. This remained until the 17th century when the Enclosure Acts were passed by Parliament and land came into private ownership. This resulted in the field system as we know it today.
Evidence of all these stages was found in the area of Dog Kennel Lane, from worked flints, medieval pottery, to clay pipes and horseshoes.
Two features in the Dog Kennel Lane area have puzzled project members and have not been fully resolved. The first is the evidence of Victorian activity in the form of two brick and stone features, below ground level, on the edge of Willow Garth Wood, accompanied by traces of cast iron railings.
The second was the existence prior to the 1970’s of a large mound approximately 130 metres long by 20 metres wide. This ran south from the wood and is shown on a 1971 aerial photograph. The mound had a much steeper side to the east. It had a hollow 20 metres wide immediately east of this bank. The feature was levelled by the Landowner in about 1974.
It was initially thought that these two features could have been connected and had something to do with a brickworks, possibly in the 18th century. We have found no evidence to support this theory. The only documented evidence we have discovered is on an 1842 Tithe map of Langthorpe where it is shown as a “Garden and Pond”. Two features below ground level on the edge of the wood could have simply been refined livestock drinking places bringing water from the pond in the centre of the wood to the fields on the outside.
Of particular interest in this area is a line, in the shape of a “D”, shown on the Historic Environment Monument Data map. This shape also ties in with the Lidar map of the area, both illustrated later.
This information indicates the possibility that this feature could have been some form of enclosure, maybe 2,000 to 4,000-years old.
The 1971 aerial photograph shows the bank and ditch running south from the wood, which is in the top right hand quadrant.
The lower drawing gives an impression of what the mound and ditch looked like before it was levelled by bulldozer around 1974 (David Barley).
Victorian feature in Willow Garth Wood at the north end of the ditch
Scale drawing of the Victorian feature