There is evidence of activity in the area in the Mesolithic (10,000-7,000 years ago) and Neolithic (7,000-5,000 years ago) periods. Settlement may not have been year-round, but the forests in around valleys were cleared certainly by 3500BC. Sources of water would have been of critical importance to man because the naturally well draining chalk landscape and lack of rivers would otherwise limit the area’s habitability. The pond at Vessey Pasture was clearly important in the Stone Age, as significant amounts of worked flint have been found there.
Into the Bronze Age (from about 3000 BC) there is evidence of people living in the area for at least part of the year. There are a number of round barrows from the period, though they are not very visible nowadays.
Later, towards the Iron Age, linear earthworks began to be constructed. These demonstrate that the idea of territory was developing, and the earthworks were used to demarcate areas of land. There are numbers of barrows across the top of the scarp looking down into the Vale of York. Houses are known to have existed at Wharram Percy in about 100BC.