Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Harepit Way linear boundary

A Scheduled Monument in Bishops Cannings, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 51.418 / 51°25'4"N

Longitude: -1.8893 / 1°53'21"W

OS Eastings: 407795.735158

OS Northings: 168786.525601

OS Grid: SU077687

Mapcode National: GBR 3VQ.34L

Mapcode Global: VHB44.6MK9

Entry Name: Harepit Way linear boundary

Scheduled Date: 20 May 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014559

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28113

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Bishops Cannings

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire


The monument includes a 346m long section of a linear boundary, marking
prehistoric land division. It runs from NNW-SSE across a south facing slope on
West Down.
The monument appears as a pair of parallel banks with a central ditch. The
ditch is 5m wide and up to 1.5m deep. Although this has become partly infilled
in places it can clearly be seen as an open feature along the whole of this
section. To either side of the ditch the two banks are c.3m wide and 0.3m
high. They have been reduced by cultivation and may originally have stood 0.5m
or more in height.
The earthwork would originally have formed part of a Bronze Age ranch
boundary, as part of a wider system of land division including other ditches
which survive in places on the Downs. This section was later used as a
medieval trackway and it has been known by the name of Harepit Way for at
least 250 years.

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 small number of areas in southern England appear to have acted as foci for
ceremonial and ritual activity during the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age
periods. Two of the best known and earliest recognised, with references in the
17th century, are around Avebury and Stonehenge, now jointly designated as a
World Heritage Site. In the Avebury area, the henge monument itself, the West
Kennet Avenue, the Sanctuary, West Kennet long barrow, Windmill Hill
causewayed enclosure and the enigmatic Silbury Hill are well-known. Whilst the
other Neolithic long barrows, the many Bronze Age round barrows and other
associated sites are less well-known, together they define one of the richest
and most varied areas of Neolithic and Bronze Age ceremonial and ritual
monuments in the country.

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 on aerial photographs or as a combination of both. The evidence of
excavation and study of associated monuments demonstrate that their
construction spans the millenium from the Middle Bronze Age, although they may
have been reused later. They 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.
The linear boundary known as the Harepit Way survives as a highly visible
landscape feature and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence
relating to its construction and the landscape in which it was built.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Grinsell, LV, 'A History of Wiltshire' in A History of Wiltshire, , Vol. 1,1, (1957), 251
SU 06 NE 134, R.C.H.M.(E), Harepit Way, (1973)
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:10000 Series
Source Date: 1982
SU 06 NE

Source: Historic England

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