Ancient Monuments

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A linear earthwork and two bowl barrows east of Bokerley Dyke on Blagdon Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Cranborne, Dorset

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Latitude: 50.9628 / 50°57'46"N

Longitude: -1.9214 / 1°55'17"W

OS Eastings: 405614.737132

OS Northings: 118160.607613

OS Grid: SU056181

Mapcode National: GBR 413.F22

Mapcode Global: FRA 66VK.R7X

Entry Name: A linear earthwork and two bowl barrows east of Bokerley Dyke on Blagdon Hill

Scheduled Date: 1 August 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011007

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25606

County: Dorset

Civil Parish: Cranborne

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: Martin All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument includes a section of a linear earthwork of probable Bronze Age
date running north east from Bokerley Dyke and, in the angle at the junction
of the two earthworks, two Bronze Age bowl barrows which are aligned east to
west. The monument is on the north facing slope of Blagdon Hill, within the
Martin Down National Nature Reserve. The linear earthwork in this
scheduling, SM25606, abuts SM25610 (Bokerley Dyke), but for purposes of
clarity these monuments have been defined as separate schedulings.

The linear earthwork includes a ditch with a low bank on the upslope side and
intermittent evidence of another slight bank on the downslope side; for much
of its length the feature appears as a shallow step in the hillside. The
earthwork runs for c.180m north east across a moderate slope from Bokerley
Dyke, turning slightly to the east above a much steeper slope before petering
out after a further 50m. The ditch is c.2.6m wide and has a maximum depth of
1.5m below the upper bank, which is up to 3.5m wide; the lower bank is visible
only as a very slight rounding of the slope at the ditch edge. The junction of
the earthwork with Bokerley Dyke has been obscured by a track running closely
along the edge of the dyke. The western of the two barrows is c.11m north east
of Bokerley Dyke. The barrow has a mound c.14m in diameter and up to 1.6m
high. Surrounding the mound is a ditch from which material was quarried during
the construction of the monument. This has largely been infilled over the
years but survives as a shallow feature 0.3m deep and up to 3m wide. A large
oval hollow in the mound probably marks the site of antiquarian excavation, of
which there are no known records.

The barrow ditches are contiguous, the eastern barrow mound lying only 7m from
the western mound. The mound of the eastern barrow is c.12m in diameter and
has a maximum height of c.2m, although this may have been accentuated by spoil
from antiquarian excavation, the probable site of which is indicated by a
large depression in the mound. The encircling quarry ditch is largely infilled
but remains visible as a shallow depression up to 2m wide.

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

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.

Adjacent to the south western end of the linear earthwork, in the angle
between it and Bokerley Dyke, are the two bowl barrows. These, the most
numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments dating from the Late
Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the
period 2400-1500BC. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds,
sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. They occur either
in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often acted as a focus for burials
in later periods. Often superficially similar, although differing widely in
size, they exhibit regional variations in form and a diversity of burial
practices. There are over 10,000 surviving bowl barrows recorded nationally
(many have already been destroyed), occurring across lowland Britain. Often
occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the modern
landscape and their considerable variation of form and longevity as a monument
type provide information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisations
amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of
their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered
worthy of 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 and development of early downland
agriculture and settlement. The earthwork and two barrows east of Bokerley
Dyke on Blagdon Hill survive well and are part of the wider distribution of
Bronze Age monuments constructed on Martin Down. These were recently the
subject of a detailed survey by the Royal Commission on the Historical
Monuments of England. All three features will contain archaeological and
environmental information relating to their construction and use.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Bowen, H C, Eagles, B N (ed), The archaeology of Bokerley Dyke, (1990), 112

Source: Historic England

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