Ancient Monuments

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Two pillow mounds 400m ENE of sea mark on Ashey Down

A Scheduled Monument in Havenstreet and Ashey, Isle of Wight

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Latitude: 50.6856 / 50°41'8"N

Longitude: -1.1823 / 1°10'56"W

OS Eastings: 457857.770188

OS Northings: 87650.934341

OS Grid: SZ578876

Mapcode National: GBR 9D0.V79

Mapcode Global: FRA 87D8.C6H

Entry Name: Two pillow mounds 400m ENE of sea mark on Ashey Down

Scheduled Date: 13 November 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012755

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22057

County: Isle of Wight

Civil Parish: Havenstreet and Ashey

Traditional County: Hampshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Isle of Wight

Church of England Parish: Swanmore St Michael and All Angels

Church of England Diocese: Portsmouth


The monument includes two of a group of five pillow mounds on the mid-slope of
an east facing hillside on the central upper chalk ridge of the Isle of Wight.
The pillow mounds in this scheduling are aligned NNE-SSW and have mounds which
measure 7.5m and 20m long and are 6m and 7m wide. Each mound is 0.6m high, and
has a ditch on its north west side from which material was quarried during its
construction. These ditches have become largely infilled over the years. The
ditch of the northern mound can no longer be seen at ground level, but
survives as a buried feature; the ditch of the southern mound can be seen.
Both are 1m wide.
One of the mounds was partially excavated by B Barrow in 1853. Drewett
identified a medieval enclosure in 1969 in the south east corner of Ashey Down
which encompassed the five pillow mounds. Near the centre of the enclosure was
a small copse in which were the remains of a post-medieval farm building. The
bricks and tiles indicated a 17th-18th century structure. This was demolished
in 1769. Pottery finds suggest that this site may have had medieval origins.

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

A warren is an area of land set aside for the breeding and management of
rabbits or hares in order to provide a constant supply of fresh meat and
skins. Although the hare is an indigenous species, the tradition of warren
construction and use dates from the 12th century, following the introduction
of rabbits into England from the continent. Warrens usually contain a number
of purpose-built breeding places known as pillow mounds or rabbit buries,
which were intended to centralise the colony and make catching the animals
easier, whether using nets, ferrets or dogs. The mounds vary in design
although rarely exceeding 0.7m in height. Earlier monuments such as burial
mounds, boundary features and mottes were sometimes reused as breeding places.
The mounds are usually surrounded by ditches and contain underlying channels
or are situated on sloping ground to facilitate drainage. The interior of the
mound may also contain nesting places constructed of stone slabs or cut into
the underlying subsoil or bedrock.
A typical warren may contain between one and forty pillow mounds or rabbit
buries and occupy an area up to c.600ha. Many warrens were enclosed by a bank,
hedge or wall intended to contain and protect the stock. Other features
associated with the warren include vermin traps (usually a dead-fall mechanism
within a small tunnel), and more rarely traps for the warren stock (known in
Yorkshire as `types') which could contain the animals unharmed and allow for
selective culling. Larger warrens might include living quarters for the
warrener who kept charge of the site, sometimes surrounded by an enclosed
garden and outbuildings.
Early warrens were mostly associated with the higher levels of society;
however, they gradually spread in popularity so that by the 16th and 17th
centuries they were a common feature on most manors and estates throughout the
country. Warrens continued in use until fairly recent times, finally declining
in the face of 19th and 20th century changes in agricultural practice, and the
onset of myxomatosis. Warrens are found in all parts of England, the earliest
examples lying in the southern part of the country. Approximately 1,000 -
2,000 examples are known nationally with concentrations in upland areas, on
heathland and in coastal zones. The profits from a successfully managed warren
could, however, be considerable and many areas in lowland England were set
aside for warrens at the expense of agricultural land. Although relatively
common, warrens are important for their associations with other classes of
monument, including various forms of settlement, deer parks, field systems and
fishponds. They may also provide evidence of the economy of both secular and
ecclesiastical estates. All well preserved medieval examples are considered
worthy of protection. A sample of well preserved sites of later date will also
merit protection.

Despite one of the mounds having been partially excavated, the two pillow
mounds 400m ENE of the sea mark are integral to the understanding of land use
on Ashey Down in the medieval period and will contain archaeological remains
and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which
it was constructed.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Barrow, B, 'Journal of the British Archaeological Association' in Journal of the British Archaeological Association, , Vol. 10, (1854), 164
Drewett, P L, 'Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club' in Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club, (1970), 56
Drewett, P L, 'Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club' in Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club, (1970), 55-56

Source: Historic England

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