Ancient Monuments

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Grovely Ditch

A Scheduled Monument in Wilton, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 51.0967 / 51°5'48"N

Longitude: -1.8911 / 1°53'28"W

OS Eastings: 407720.278

OS Northings: 133045.5279

OS Grid: SU077330

Mapcode National: GBR 3ZL.2PT

Mapcode Global: FRA 66X7.52W

Entry Name: Grovely Ditch

Scheduled Date: 21 March 1956

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1005584

English Heritage Legacy ID: WI 456

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Wilton

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: Great Wishford St Giles

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


Part of the linear boundary called Grim’s Ditch 1895m north west of Ugford Red Buildings.

Source: Historic England


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 21 September 2015. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

This monument, which falls into five separate areas, includes part of an extensive linear boundary which extends for at least 3km over rolling downland countryside overlooking the distant Wylye Valley with a diverging branch of up to 382m long at its eastern end. The linear boundary survives differentially throughout its length as either: a ditch; a ditch with one bank; or a medial ditch between two banks and although the dimensions vary as widely as the preservation the average ditch width is 5m wide and 0.5m deep and where applicable the northern bank is up to 4m wide and the southern 4.5m wide. In the past it was defined as being of early medieval origin because it is mentioned in Anglo Saxon land charters (the earliest dates to 956 AD), but it is cut in at least six places by Roman roads thus indicating it is a much earlier land or territorial boundary with prehistoric origins. It has subsequently been reused to define many parish boundaries.

Further sections are scheduled separately.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Cranborne Chase is an area of chalkland well known for its high number, density and diversity of archaeological remains. These include a rare combination of Neolithic and Early Bronze Age sites, comprising one of the largest concentrations of burial monuments in England, the largest known cursus (a linear ritual monument) and a significant number and range of henge monuments (Late Neolithic ceremonial centres). Other important remains include a variety of enclosures, settlements, field systems and linear boundaries which date throughout prehistory and into the Romano-British and medieval periods. This high level of survival of archaeological remains is due largely to the later history of the Chase. Cranborne Chase formed a Royal Hunting Ground from at least Norman times, and much of the archaeological survival within the area resulted from associated laws controlling land-use which applied until 1830. The unique archaeological character of the Chase has attracted much attention over the years, notably during the later 19th century, by the pioneering work on the Chase of General Pitt-Rivers, Sir Richard Colt Hoare and Edward Cunnington, often regarded as the fathers of British archaeology. Archaeological investigations have continued throughout the 20th century and to the present day. Linear boundaries are substantial earthwork features comprising single or multiple ditches and banks which may extend over distances of less than 1km to over 10km. They survive as earthworks or as linear features visible as cropmarks on aerial photographs, or as a combination of both. The evidence of excavation and study of associated monuments demonstrate that their construction spans the millennium from the Middle Bronze Age, although they may have been reused later. The scale of many linear boundaries has been taken to indicate that they were constructed by large social groups and were used to mark important boundaries in the landscape, their impressive scale displaying the corporate prestige of their builders. They would have been powerful symbols, often with religious associations, used to define and order the territorial holdings of the groups responsible for their construction. Linear earthworks occur quite widely across parts of Cranborne Chase and together, these are of considerable importance for the analysis of settlement and land use in the Bronze Age. All well-preserved examples are important. The part of the linear boundary called Grim’s Ditch 1895m north west of Ugford Red Buildings survives well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, function, maintenance, longevity, the social organisation of the builders, its subsequent re-use and overall landscape context.

Source: Historic England


PastScape 1065699; Wiltshire HER SU03SE609

Source: Historic England

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