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Section of the north Oxfordshire Grim's Ditch and a section of Akeman Street Roman road immediately south east of North Lodge in Blenheim Great Park

A Scheduled Monument in Blenheim, Oxfordshire

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Latitude: 51.8613 / 51°51'40"N

Longitude: -1.3809 / 1°22'51"W

OS Eastings: 442728.256

OS Northings: 218265.1843

OS Grid: SP427182

Mapcode National: GBR 7W8.CP7

Mapcode Global: VHCX6.0GTY

Entry Name: Section of the north Oxfordshire Grim's Ditch and a section of Akeman Street Roman road immediately south east of North Lodge in Blenheim Great Park

Scheduled Date: 10 April 1951

Last Amended: 18 October 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009425

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21837

County: Oxfordshire

Civil Parish: Blenheim

Traditional County: Oxfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Oxfordshire


The monument includes a section of the north Oxfordshire Grim's Ditch and a
section of Akeman Street Roman road at their intersection, immediately
south east of North Lodge, in Blenheim Great Park.
This section of the north Oxfordshire Grim's Ditch includes two lengths of
rampart and associated ditches, set at an angle, and separated by a 4m wide
strip representing an entrance. The ditch sections run from the north west to
the south east for 150m to meet Akeman Street and then run roughly west to
east for 370m south of the Roman road. The ramparts were originally 6m wide
and up to 2m high. This section has been partially levelled by the
construction of the drive from the column to Ditchley Gate but survives as a
visible earthwork from 0.2m to 2m high. The ditch lies north of the rampart
and measures up to 10m wide and up to 1.5m deep. A 60m long section, east of
the intersection of Akeman Street, has been infilled to allow the passage of
vehicles along the drive but is visible on air photographs, suggesting its
survival as a buried feature.
Akeman Street runs east to west along the line of an older prehistoric
trackway, using a pre-existing entrance through the Grim's Ditch. The
carriageway is known from excavations in 1898 to consist of a layer of
vertically laid stones covered with a c.0.2m thick layer of gravel and fine
stones. This surface measures up to 4m across and is flanked by two drainage
ditches 2m wide. Although the line of the carriageway remains visible above
ground as a slight raised earthwork, c.5m wide, the ditches have become
infilled over the years and survive as buried features.
Excluded from the scheduling are the tarmac surface of the road leading to
Ditchley Gate from Blenheim Palace, gate and fences which run east to west
along the north side of Akeman Street, and the post and wire fence running
north to south along the rampart north of Akeman Street, although the land
beneath all of 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 north Oxfordshire Grim's Ditch is a series of discrete linear earthworks
of Iron Age date which together make up at least one segmented circuit,
situated between the valleys of the Rivers Evenlode, Glyme and Windrush in an
area of the eastern Cotswolds. In recent years evidence for an outer
concentric circuit has come to light, largely from the study of cropmarks
visible on aerial photographs. The area enclosed by the inner circuit is 12 sq
km and the outer circuit encloses between 60 and 70 sq km. The earthworks
which define this area were only built in open country leaving apparent gaps
in the areas previously forested.
Where visible, the Grim's Ditch always includes a rampart of dumped earth and
stone, a berm and outer ditch and, in places, a narrow palisade trench beyond.
It is believed that, together, these components served to enclose and divide
an area of land and provide control over access through the open country which
existed between heavily forested areas.
The ditch is Iron Age in date and provides evidence of how the landscape was
managed and divided in the period immediately prior to the Roman Conquest. The
high concentration of sites representing Iron Age ritual and agricultural
activity which occur within the area defined by the ditch confirms the view
that it served to define an area which was of particular significance to its
All sections surviving as visible earthworks, and sections identified by
aerial photography which are integral to a general understanding of the nature
and extent of Grim's Ditch, will normally merit statutory protection.

The sections of Grim's Ditch and Akeman Street south east of North Lodge both
survive well and are known from aerial photographs and partial excavation to
contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to their
construction and the landscape in which they were built. This is the one area
where a visible overlap occurs between the ditch system and the later road. As
such, this point is critical for providing a full understanding of their
chronological and spatial relationship.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
'OXONENSIA' in BLENHEIM PALACE 1936, , Vol. II, (1936)
Excavation reports, OXONENSIA, BLENHEIM PARK 1936, Proceedings, (1936)
FIELDWORK SURVEY, Copeland, T, The North Oxfordshire Grim's Ditch System,
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:10000 Series
Source Date: 1980
SP 41 NW
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:10000
Source Date: 1980
Sheet SP 41 NW

Source: Historic England

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