Black Dyke

Has been described as a Questionable Linear Defence or Dyke

There are earthwork remains

NameBlack Dyke
Alternative Names
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishBardon Mill; Bellingham; Greystead; Haydon; Simonburn; Wark

The Black Dyke is an earthwork feature defined by a ditch up to 1.8m deep on its west side. The purpose of the dyke is not known but it is thought to date to before the Roman period. It runs for several kilometres from the west of Bellingham south and westwards through Wark Forest. Some sections are visible on aerial photographs and it is suggested that the dyke may have been an intermittent feature rather than a continuous one. In some places, later parish boundary walls follow the line of the dyke. (Keys to the Past)

Of unknown date, the Black Dyke stretches between the North and South Tynes cutting off an area of 48,000 acres. Possibly constructed to prevent cattle raiding. (PastScape no 1066037)

It was seen as an earthwork and mapped from air photographs. Visible as an earthen bank with a ditch on the west side, this linear boundary is sometimes seen intermittently and now has a later stone wall running on top for most of its course. In some places this wall now forms the parish boundary. The northern part of the course of this feature may now lie within an extensive forestry plantation. Although the air photography which was available to the project included photographs taken before the creation of the plantations, nevertheless the feature could not be identified to the north of Whitelee Cleugh. (PastScape no 1393614)

Gatehouse Comments

This monument is usually dated as prehistoric but PastScape does give a possible medieval date as well although the fact that parish boundaries follow the line of the dyke suggests it pre dates the medieval period in construction although possible medieval maintenance and use cannot be total excluded. Map reference for southern end of the Dyke.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNY806647
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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  • Haigh, D. and Savage, M., 1984, Archaeologia Aeliana (ser5) Vol. 12 p. 68
  • Spain, George R.B., 1922, ''The Black Dyke' in Northumberland' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser3) Vol. 19 p. 121-168 online copy


  • Long, B., 1988. List of Ancient Monuments, The Kielder Forests