Ancient Monuments

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Cross dyke 480m east of Great Kimble church

A Scheduled Monument in Great and Little Kimble, Buckinghamshire

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Latitude: 51.7464 / 51°44'47"N

Longitude: -0.7988 / 0°47'55"W

OS Eastings: 483027.482458

OS Northings: 205984.810949

OS Grid: SP830059

Mapcode National: GBR D3Q.GVR

Mapcode Global: VHDVK.3CLJ

Entry Name: Cross dyke 480m east of Great Kimble church

Scheduled Date: 27 November 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013934

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27130

County: Buckinghamshire

Civil Parish: Great and Little Kimble

Built-Up Area: Great Kimble

Traditional County: Buckinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Buckinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Kimble

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The monument includes a prehistoric multivallate cross dyke transecting the
neck of a narrow wooded spur extending westwards from the Chiltern escarpment
between Happy Valley and The Coombes, at the foot of which lies the village of
Great Kimble.

The dyke is orientated north east to south west and extends for c.140m between
the upper slopes of the steep natural scarps on either side of the spur. The
main eastern ditch averages 5m in width and 1.2m in depth, and is flanked on
the western side by an earthen bank which varies between 4m and 7m across and
reaches a maximum height of 0.7m. The dyke is breached in two places. A hollow
way, some 2m in depth, which is thought to have originated in the medieval
period, ascends the spur along its northern side and truncates the dyke at a
point some 30m from the northern end. A causeway located some 40m further to
the south, carries a modern estate road which runs parallel to the hollow way.
The second, western ditch is visible between the hollow way and road, divided
from the longer ditch by the accompanying bank. This feature measures c.4m in
width and 0.9m deep and, in common with the eastern ditch, has a flat base
containing deep deposits of humic soil.

The earthworks are less clearly defined immediately to either side of the
road, probably as a result of soil dumping during its construction. On the
southern side of the road the bank is surmounted by a slight embankment which
is believed to be a woodland boundary dating from the medieval or
post-medieval period.

A second cross dyke runs parallel to this example, traversing the end of the
spur some 250m to the west. Fragments of Early Iron Age pottery have been
collected from the vicinity of this second dyke, which is the subject of a
separate scheduling.

The surface of the road and all fences and fence 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

Cross dykes are substantial linear earthworks typically between 0.2km and 1km
long and comprising one or more ditches arranged beside and parallel to one or
more banks. They generally occur in upland situations, running across ridges
and spurs. They are recognised as earthworks or as cropmarks on aerial
photographs, or as combinations of both. The evidence of excavation and
analogy with associated monuments demonstrates that their construction spans
the millennium from the Middle Bronze Age, although they may have been re-used
later. Current information favours the view that they were used as territorial
boundary markers, probably demarcating land allotment within communities,
although they may also have been used as trackways, cattle droveways or
defensive earthworks. Cross dykes are one of the few monument types which
illustrate how land was divided up in the prehistoric period. They are of
considerable importance for any analysis of settlement and land use in the
Bronze Age. Very few have survived to the present day and hence all well-
preserved examples are considered to be of national importance.

The cross dyke 480m east of Great Kimble church survives in very good
condition. The form and composition of the bank will provide evidence for the
method of construction, which may include traces of timber palisades erected
along the top. The earlier landsurface buried beneath the bank is a valuable
resource capable of providing information about prehistoric soil conditions
and land use. This environmental evidence, together with that contained in the
primary silts within the ditch, may indicate the nature of the landscape in
which the monument was set. The bank material and ditch fills may also contain
artefacts from which the period of use can be determined and the function of
the monument assessed.

The association of the cross dyke with a second dyke near the tip of the spur
is considered to be of great interest, providing insights into the division of
land and the nature of prehistoric settlement in the Chiltern Hills.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Dyer, J, Discovering Regional Archaeology: Eastern England, (1969), 9
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, , An Inventory of Historic Monuments in Buckinghamshire, (1912), 164
Ordnance Survey record card, ASP, SU 80 NW 7, (1972)
Quotes S. Frere's opinion on the site, Gowling, C N, 0932: Correspondance with Ordnance Survey, (1964)
Record of reported finds, 0932,
Title: Southern Britain in the Iron Age
Source Date: 1962

Source: Historic England

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