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Thornham Down prehistoric and medieval landscapes

A Scheduled Monument in Upavon, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 51.2658 / 51°15'56"N

Longitude: -1.8618 / 1°51'42"W

OS Eastings: 409737.545612

OS Northings: 151861.400899

OS Grid: SU097518

Mapcode National: GBR 3XH.J4B

Mapcode Global: VHB4X.PF3Z

Entry Name: Thornham Down prehistoric and medieval landscapes

Scheduled Date: 12 March 1990

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010219

English Heritage Legacy ID: 10035

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Upavon

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: Upavon St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


A substantial area of downland with a large number of extant monuments. The
area is an exceptionally well preserved and important example of an extensive
prehistoric and medieval landscape.
1 - A settlement site. Various Romano-British finds are listed as coming from
this site.
2 - Strip fields on the west of Thornham Down.
3 - A fairly well preserved series of lynchets opposite the western area of
Thornham Down.
4 - A field system to the south-west of Thornham Down.
5 - "Church ditches", earthwork enclosure with no visible entrance. Mid to
late Iron age pottery has been recovered.
6 - A good example of a "Celtic" cultivation system.
7 - A bowl barrow known as "Slay barrow" originally c.24m diameter.
8 - A combe lynchet system.
9 - A well defined series of strip lynchets, c.2m high and 100m long.
10 - A boundary earthwork running along the south of Thornham Down. This
ditch/bank/ditch feature averages 12m to 15m wide overall.
11 - A complex area of field systems in the centre of Thornham Down. Celtic
fields are overlain by strip cultivation. The lynchets have a maximum height
of c.1.2m and field banks are up to 0.8m high.
12 - An extensive, Iron Age/Romano-British field system, to the south-east of
Thornham Down. It consists of banks and terraces and is especially well
preserved on the valley sides where the lynchets are up to 2m high.
13 - A field system to the south-east of Thornham Down.
14 - A system of lynchets to the south-east of Thornham Down. The lynchets on
the north side of the system are very well preserved and c.2m high. On the
south side there is one good lynchet.
15 - An area of well preserved medieval type strip lynchets up to 3m high and
extending for over a mile across the valley sides. They are best preserved in
the east and west.
16 - An area of earthworks and ground disturbance. Some faint house platforms
have been identified, and sherds of Romano-British pottery discovered in the
area confirm that there is a settlement site.
17 - A rectangular enclosure possibly a stock pen. The north and west sides
exist as lynchets and the east side has a well preserved bank and ditch about
0.5m high.
18 - Two trackways running north/south and converging in the south, which are
also joined by one leading from the west.
19 - An enclosure possibly a stock pen that shows slightly on the ground as an
earthwork feature.
20 - Strip fields in good condition with banks a maximum height of 1m.
21 - Settlement, originally recorded as surrounded by a bank and ditch with
entrances in the east and north sides.
22 - A linear earthwork to the south of Rushall Down. In the west it is
evident as a distinct "shelf" on the hillslope, further east, however, it
manifests itself as a triple bank system with intermediate ditches.
23 - An area of well preserved lynchets on a south facing slope below "Long
24 - A boundary bank and ditch, known as "Long Ditch". The whole monument runs
for c.3.5 miles. The eastern section is c.1200m long and visible as either a
scarp or ditch with a counterscarp bank.
25 - A large sub-square enclosure c.220m maximum north/south by c.215m maximum
26 - An Iron Age/Romano-British settlement site, extensively excavated in the
19th century.
27 - An earthen mound of barrow-like appearance 18.5m diameter, with no sign
of a ditch.
28 - A settlement site located mainly from finds in the area. It is probably
of Iron Age/Romano-British date.
29 - A barrow identified in antiquity at this grid reference. Nothing can now
be seen on the ground and the area has been damaged by the military.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The most complete and extensive survival of chalk downland
archaeological remains in central southern England occurs on Salisbury
Plain, particularly in those areas lying within the Salisbury Plain
Training Area. These remains represent one of the few extant
archaeological "landscapes" in Britain and are considered to be of
special significance because they differ in character from those in
other areas with comparable levels of preservation. Individual sites on
Salisbury Plain are seen as being additionally important because the
evidence of their direct association with each other survives so well.

Well preserved, extensive prehistoric and Romano-British field systems
are rare nationally, as are contemporary settlements and enclosures
surviving in the form of earthworks. Within the Thornham Down monument
several prehistoric and Romano-British settlement sites and enclosures
have been recorded within one of the largest areas of continuous extant
cultivation earthworks in Southern Britain. The significance of the
monument is considerably enhanced by the demonstrable relationship
between the field systems and several major boundary earthworks and by
the inclusion of several prehistoric funerary monuments considered to
be nationally important in their own right.

Source: Historic England


Trust for Wessex Archaeology, (1987)
Wiltshire Library & Museum Service, (1987)

Source: Historic England

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