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1100m section of the north Oxfordshire Grim's Ditch at Model Farm on the Ditchley Park Estate

A Scheduled Monument in Spelsbury, Oxfordshire

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Latitude: 51.8851 / 51°53'6"N

Longitude: -1.4468 / 1°26'48"W

OS Eastings: 438173.493

OS Northings: 220872.5107

OS Grid: SP381208

Mapcode National: GBR 6TH.M25

Mapcode Global: VHBZH.WW07

Entry Name: 1100m section of the north Oxfordshire Grim's Ditch at Model Farm on the Ditchley Park Estate

Scheduled Date: 9 April 1951

Last Amended: 4 October 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014708

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21846

County: Oxfordshire

Civil Parish: Spelsbury

Traditional County: Oxfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Oxfordshire

Church of England Parish: Spelsbury

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The monument includes a 1100m long section of the north Oxfordshire Grim's
Ditch running broadly east to west through Model Farm on the Ditchley Park
The monument survives as a clearly visible bank and ditch along the majority
of this length although its western end and some of the other sections have
been levelled by cultivation over the years. However, it is known from partial
excavation and aerial photographs that these sections survive buried below the
modern ground surface.
This stretch of Grim's Ditch includes a large linear stone and earthen rampart
6.5m wide and standing up to 1.5m high in some places, with an average height
of 1m. This rampart would have been topped by a wooded palisade fence c.1m
high. Beyond the rampart, to the north, a 1.5m wide berm separates it from a
6.5m wide and 1.4m deep ditch. This has become infilled in places but is
visible to the east of Model Farm where it has a depth of c.1m. Beyond the
outer edge of the ditch at a distance of 3.75m is a 0.5m wide palisade trench
0.25m deep. This would have contained a wooden fence similar to that on the
top of the bank. Although this would have had a defensive function, it was
probably more useful in preventing cattle and other stock from getting into
the ditch.
Excluded from the scheduling are the large barn and its concrete floor pad,
all lean-to structures, sheds, post and wire fences and other boundary
features, although the ground beneath all of the above and the unmetalled
track surfaces are included in the scheduling.

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 at Model Farm on the Ditchley Park Estate survives
well as a visible earthwork along most of its length. Limited excavations of
some levelled sections have confirmed the survival of archaeological and
environmental remains. This is one of the longest recorded sections of Grim's
Ditch. As such it provides information pertaining to the laying out of the
ditch and the system of land division of which it was a part.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Harden, D B, 'Oxoniensia' in Excavations On The North Oxfordshire Grim's Ditch 1935-6, (1939), 79 etc
PRN 8910 and supporting files, C.A.O., North Oxfordshire Grim's Ditch, (1989)
Title: 1st Edition Ordnance Survey
Source Date: 1833
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:10000 Series
Source Date: 1980
SP 32 SE

Source: Historic England

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