Ancient Monuments

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Two linear earthworks in Vernditch Chase

A Scheduled Monument in Broad Chalke, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 50.9929 / 50°59'34"N

Longitude: -1.9421 / 1°56'31"W

OS Eastings: 404160.409

OS Northings: 121498.1161

OS Grid: SU041214

Mapcode National: GBR 40P.MTS

Mapcode Global: FRA 66TH.970

Entry Name: Two linear earthworks in Vernditch Chase

Scheduled Date: 16 October 1964

Last Amended: 5 February 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010763

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25608

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Broad Chalke

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: Broadchalke All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument includes sections of two associated linear earthworks of Bronze
Age date in Vernditch Chase, the longer of which forms part of Grim's Ditch,
an extensive series of prehistoric boundaries lying mainly east of Bokerley
Dyke. The section of Grim's Ditch runs broadly eastward from the
Hampshire/Dorset county boundary for c.1.91km, crossing part of the Martin
Down National Nature Reserve before entering Vernditch Chase. Two right-angled
corners accommodate a central section running from north to south. The
earthwork has been levelled and infilled shortly before the county boundary
and to its west, and has been quarried away at the eastern end, north of the
Roman road between Sorviodunum (Old Sarum) and Vindocladia (Badbury). The
second earthwork runs from the southern corner of Grim's Ditch to the Roman
road. SM25608 abuts SM24328 (the Roman road) but for the purposes of clarity
these monuments have been defined as separate schedulings.
Grim's Ditch crosses slightly undulating, generally south east-sloping ground;
the western end traverses the head of a shallow dry valley. The eastern
section of the earthwork runs for c.555m on a gentle south east to west curve
before turning sharply to the south. The earthwork is here visible principally
as a ditch, which at the eastern end is c.11m wide and up to 1.25m deep. There
is little sign of a bank or banks alongside the eastern part of the ditch, but
further to the west low banks, up to 0.3m high and 3m wide, give the earthwork
an overall width of c.17m.
The north to south section is c.430m long, straight except for a slight
westward deviation near the southern end. This earthwork has a maximum overall
width of c.16m, with banks flanking both sides of the ditch.
The western part of the earthwork is c.940m in length. Running slightly south
of west for most of its length, the feature turns due west at the western end.
The earthwork is at its most substantial shortly after the southern corner,
here having an overall width of c.18m. The northern bank rises up to 1.7m
above the base of the 8m-9m wide ditch, but the southern bank is lower,
reaching a maximum height of 0.9m. Further west, the feature diminishes
slightly to c.16m wide overall, but retains banks at both sides for almost its
whole length. The earthwork is levelled and infilled c.8m east of the county
boundary and to its west.
The second earthwork, c.225m in length, runs from the southern corner of
Grim's Ditch south towards the Roman road. Intermittent low banks, c.3m wide
and not more than 0.4m high, flank both sides of the ditch which is c.5m wide
and has a maximum depth of 0.5m. The earthwork has been disturbed immediately
north of the Roman road, but continues to its south as the subject of a
separate scheduling.
All metalled forestry tracks, fencing, gates and associated posts are excluded
from the scheduling, 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

Linear boundaries are substantial earthwork features comprising single or
multiple ditches and banks which may extend over distances varying between
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 re-used 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 those
groups who constructed them. Linear earthworks are of considerable importance
for the analysis of settlement and land use in the Bronze Age; all well
preserved examples will normally merit statutory protection.

Much of the archaeological landscape of Martin Down and the surrounding area
is preserved as earthworks or crop-marks which together will provide a
detailed understanding of the nature of early land division, agriculture and
The section of Grim's Ditch and the adjoining earthwork in Vernditch Chase
survive well and are two of the numerous monuments of Bronze Age date
constructed in the area. These were recently the subject of a survey by the
Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. The earthworks will
contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the construction
and use of the monument.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Bowen, H C, Eagles, B N (ed), The archaeology of Bokerley Dyke, (1990), 104-5
Bowen, H C, Eagles, B N (ed), The archaeology of Bokerley Dyke, (1990), 12

Source: Historic England

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