The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

The Ryedale Windypits

Cave / Rock Shelter


The Windypits are a group of fissures in the corallian limestone or the lower calcareous grits along the near the main valley of the River Rye.
There are 8 major windypit- type fissures known in Ryedale and four major cavities.
The name comes from the phenomenon caused by warm or cold air rising from the fissures and coming into contact with the air outside the entrance. In winter a steamy vapour rises in puffs or jets from the holes. In warmer months cold air can be felt in the passage entrances, sometimes moving so violently as to vibrate the foliage nearby.
Most of the known windypits have been excavated and have yeilded corded ware, gritted ware, flint ,stone and bone impliments and both human and animal remains. The recovered materials date from the late Neolithic to the Romano British.

"Finds from the windypits have added greatly to our knowledge of the beaker folk in Ryedale and the food and habits of the people of this period. They were probably partially of wholy nomadic hunter-herdsmen, though stones have been found in the fissures which may be grain rubbers, suggesting a more settled agricultural way of life.
Given a warm dry dry summer, the windypits would serve as a temporary habitation in the winter.
It is likely that they were also used for burial. A cave or a fissure was a likely origin of the chambered tomb of Neolithic times."

The History of Helmsley Rievaulx & District
by Members of The Helmsley & Area Group of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society.
Stonegate Press
Pub 1963
fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
17th June 2003ce

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