Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Flex Ditch

A Scheduled Monument in Silchester, Hampshire

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Latitude: 51.351 / 51°21'3"N

Longitude: -1.1023 / 1°6'8"W

OS Eastings: 462614.15403

OS Northings: 161704.82899

OS Grid: SU626617

Mapcode National: GBR B5H.B4N

Mapcode Global: VHCZV.V94P

Entry Name: Flex Ditch

Scheduled Date: 22 October 1968

Last Amended: 10 August 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008725

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24331

County: Hampshire

Civil Parish: Silchester

Built-Up Area: Silchester

Traditional County: Hampshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hampshire

Church of England Parish: Silchester St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Winchester


The monument includes a ditch of probable Iron Age date c.1km south west of
the Roman town of Calleva, on the outskirts of the modern village of
The ditch crosses the highest part of a spur, extending between a dry valley
to the south west and the valley of a tributary of the Silchester Brook to the
north east. The ditch, which is up to 25m wide and has a maximum depth of
c.6m, was probably intended to restrict access from the south to the ridge of
higher ground to the north. On lower ground to the south and west of Flex
Ditch are several other linear earthworks extending north eastwards towards
Calleva, which is at the eastern end of the ridge.
The Roman road between Calleva and Sorviodunum (Old Sarum) passed close to or
cut across the south side of the ditch at its north eastern end. This end of
the ditch has been more recently disturbed by the construction of the road
between Little London and Silchester, and is now boggy and partly
water-filled. The south western end of the ditch was remodelled and a bank at
its northern side was levelled during the construction of houses, paths,
garages and parking areas around the site.
Excluded from the scheduling are the footpaths, lamp- and signposts, but the
ground beneath them is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The Roman town of Calleva Atrebatum, Silchester, is in open country and
therefore one of the small number of Roman town sites where subsequent
building has not obscured the origins and development of the site.
The town began as a settlement in the pre-Roman Iron Age, when earthworks
enclosing the site and dividing its environs were constructed, but was laid
out anew as a Roman town in the first century AD, becoming a civitas capital,
or administrative centre, for the local people, the Atrebates. Recent
excavations have indicated that the earliest occupation of the site dates from
the second half of the first century BC. The complete plan of the Iron Age
settlement is not known, but extensive excavation within the town walls in the
years between 1890 and 1909 has enabled the layout of the subsequent Roman
town to be broadly established. The end of Roman administration in the
fifth century AD resulted in the decline of Calleva and, although the town
continued to be occupied for a while, it failed to develop further, reverting
to open country once again.
Flex Ditch forms part of an extensive complex of earthworks lying to the south
and west of Calleva which is thought to be associated with the town's Iron Age
precursor. The ditch is of such a size that it remains well-preserved despite
the loss of the bank at its northern side during the construction of the
houses and associated structures which now surround it. The site contains
archaeological and environmental information relating to the construction and
use of the monument and will enhance our understanding of territorial division
and defence in the pre-Roman period.

Source: Historic England

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