Ancient Monuments

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Section of the north Oxfordshire Grim's Ditch west of Common Farm

A Scheduled Monument in North Leigh, Oxfordshire

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Latitude: 51.8078 / 51°48'28"N

Longitude: -1.4498 / 1°26'59"W

OS Eastings: 438030.531422

OS Northings: 212274.979064

OS Grid: SP380122

Mapcode National: GBR 6VG.L8Z

Mapcode Global: VHBZW.TTFH

Entry Name: Section of the north Oxfordshire Grim's Ditch west of Common Farm

Scheduled Date: 18 December 1978

Last Amended: 4 October 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013236

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21845

County: Oxfordshire

Civil Parish: North Leigh

Built-Up Area: North Leigh

Traditional County: Oxfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Oxfordshire

Church of England Parish: North Leigh

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The monument, which falls into two areas, includes a 650m long section of the
north Oxfordshire Grim's Ditch running from east to west, commencing c.100m
south west of Common Farm. It is cut by a feeder water main from the North
Leigh Reservoir 150m west of its eastern end.
This section of Grim's Ditch has a rampart bank measuring c.6m wide,
originally standing up to 2m high although it presently stands no more than
0.5m above the modern ground level. To the south is a 4m wide berm which
separates the bank from a ditch which measures from 5m-10m wide at the
surface. This ditch has become infilled over the years and is difficult to see
at ground level. However, it is known from excavation to survive below ground
level to its original depth of 2m.
The section east of the main has been reduced by cultivation from the medieval
period onwards, but is clearly visible on aerial photographs which show it
ending in a terminal at its eastern end.
Excluded from the scheduling are the post and wire fences forming the field
boundaries, although the ground beneath all of these 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 section of Grim's Ditch west of Common Farm survives well, while limited
excavations have confirmed that it will contain archaeological and
environmental evidence relating to its construction and the landscape in which
it was built.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Crawford, O G S, 'Antiquity' in The North Oxfordshire Grim's Ditch, , Vol. IV No 15, (1930), 303
Fine, D, 'Oxoniensia' in An Excavation of the North Oxon Grim's Ditch at North Leigh, (), 12-16
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:10000 Series
Source Date: 1981
SP 31 NE

Source: Historic England

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