Ancient Monuments

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Linear earthwork in Gravelpit Copse and near Byes Lane, south west of Silchester

A Scheduled Monument in Silchester, Hampshire

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Latitude: 51.3415 / 51°20'29"N

Longitude: -1.1081 / 1°6'29"W

OS Eastings: 462222.719

OS Northings: 160646.2983

OS Grid: SU622606

Mapcode National: GBR B5H.W46

Mapcode Global: VHCZV.RJ2Y

Entry Name: Linear earthwork in Gravelpit Copse and near Byes Lane, south west of Silchester

Scheduled Date: 28 November 1934

Last Amended: 30 August 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008727

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24333

County: Hampshire

Civil Parish: Silchester

Traditional County: Hampshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hampshire

Church of England Parish: Bramley St James

Church of England Diocese: Winchester


The monument, which falls into two areas, includes a linear earthwork, one of
several associated with the Late Iron Age precursor of the Roman town of
Calleva. The earthwork is c.1.5km south west of Calleva and south of the
village of Silchester.

The earthwork is in two sections, 326m and 274m long respectively, aligned
from south west to north east; the longer south western section, in Gravelpit
Copse, curves slightly to the south. There is a gap of c.70m separating the
two sections of the earthwork, through which pass the Silchester Brook and one
of its tributary streams, and the road between Little London and Silchester.
In Gravelpit Copse, the earthwork has been sited to take advantage of the
natural fall of the ground towards the stream to its south east. No sign of a
ditch is recognisable but, for almost half its length from the south western
end, the bank appears as a gradually deepening step in the natural slope. The
bank has a fall of up to 2m to the south east but rises no more than 0.3m
above the adjoining ground level to the north west. Near the north eastern end
of the feature, the bank has a maximum width of c.8m. The earthwork terminates
abruptly at a later boundary bank to the west of String Lane and is not
visible in the low-lying, boggy area between the lane and the Silchester

The north eastern section of the earthwork is flanked by Byes Lane and a
roadside bank which have destroyed any evidence of a contemporary bank at the
north western side of the earthwork. This section of the earthwork includes a
ditch and bank. The ditch is marked by a steep fall of up to 3m at the north
west side, albeit augmented by the roadside bank, while the low bank, up to
0.6m high and 7m wide, lies along its south eastern side. The ditch is up to
10m wide. To the south west, the earthwork terminates at the Little London to
Silchester road and to the north east it stops at a modern property boundary.
It is also interrupted near the midpoint by an entry to the wood from Byes

Excluded from the scheduling are all fencing, signs and associated posts,
although the ground beneath these features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

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. The site was
laid out anew as a Roman town in the 1st 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.

The linear earthwork in Gravelpit Copse and near Byes Lane forms part of the
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. Both sections
of the earthwork are well-preserved and will contain archaeological and
environmental information relating to the construction and use of the
monument. They will also enhance our understanding of territorial division and
defence in the pre-Roman period.

Source: Historic England

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