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Great Orton Dyke

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Barrass Gate; Ringfence

In the civil parish of Orton.
In the historic county of Cumberland.
Modern Authority of Cumbria.
1974 county of Cumbria.
Medieval County of Cumberland.

OS Map Grid Reference: NY32745473
Latitude 54.88278° Longitude -3.04990°

Great Orton Dyke has been described as a Urban Defence although is doubtful that it was such.

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains.


"At the extermity of a lane that extends 300yds northward of the village is a large foss or double ditch, where an iron chain went across the road and was locked every night, called Barass Gate, made as a defence against the frequent incursions of the Scots or Moss Troopers. The entrance from the east had a similar defence and the whole parish was surrounded with a ditch and an embankment, called the Ringfence." (Whellan)

The whole parish (?village) of Great Orton was at one time enclosed by a ditch and rampart, called the Ring Fence, agains the Scots or Moss Troopers.
North of the village is a large fosse or double ditch (at) Barrass
Gate where an iron chain was stretched across the road every night. The entrance to the village from the east had a similar defence (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Object Name Book).
Collingwood mentions "remains of rampart" here (For other Gates see NY 35 SE 8 & 9).
There are no visible remains of a ditch or rampart at Barrass Gate, or anywhere else in the vicinity of Great Orton (F1 BHP 17-NOV-69). (PastScape)

Some reports that it still survives in places, although PastScape writes no traces. The line of ditch is not obvious in the modern field pattern, although the medieval field layout can be traced with almost textbook clarity. Even if the ditch just surrounded the village (and the suggestion is it surrounded the parish) it could not have garrisoned - even in an emergency - with sufficient personnel to defend against a significant raid and the mention of it as a defence against the Scots is romantic fantasy. The possibility of a ditched hedge for stock control is not unreasonable.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:52

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