Wade's Causeway

Beck Hole, United Kingdom

Wade's Causeway

Wade's Causeway is a sinuous, linear monument up to 6,000 years old in the North York Moors national park in North Yorkshire, England. The name may refer to either scheduled ancient monument number 1004876—a length of stone course just over 1 mile (1.6 km) long on Wheeldale Moor, or to a postulated extension of this structure, incorporating ancient monuments numbers 1004108 and 1004104 extending to the north and south for up to 25 miles (40 km). The visible course on Wheeldale Moor consists of an embankment of soil, peat, gravel and loose pebbles 0.7 metres (2.3 ft) in height and 4 to 7 metres (13 to 23 ft) in width. The gently cambered embankment is capped with unmortared and loosely abutted flagstones. Its original form is uncertain since it has been subjected to weathering and human damage.

The structure has been the subject of folklore in the surrounding area for several hundred years and possibly more than a millennium. Its construction was commonly attributed to a giant known as Wade, a figure from Germanic or Norse mythology. In the 1720s, the causeway was mentioned in a published text and became known outside the local area. Within a few years, it became of interest to antiquarians who visited the site and exchanged commentary on its probable historicity. They interpreted the structure as a causeway across the marshy ground, attributing its construction to the Roman military, an explanation largely unchallenged throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

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