Ancient Monuments

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Linear earthworks east of Callow Hill Roman villa forming part of the north Oxfordshire Grim's Ditch

A Scheduled Monument in Wootton, Oxfordshire

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Latitude: 51.869 / 51°52'8"N

Longitude: -1.3989 / 1°23'56"W

OS Eastings: 441480.6092

OS Northings: 219104.1459

OS Grid: SP414191

Mapcode National: GBR 7W2.TBC

Mapcode Global: VHBZQ.P9S2

Entry Name: Linear earthworks east of Callow Hill Roman villa forming part of the north Oxfordshire Grim's Ditch

Scheduled Date: 17 April 1936

Last Amended: 2 January 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014751

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28127

County: Oxfordshire

Civil Parish: Wootton

Traditional County: Oxfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Oxfordshire

Church of England Parish: Wootton, Glympton and Kiddington

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The monument includes three separate lengths of linear earthwork situated
east of Callow Hill Roman villa. The earthworks formed internal land divisions
within the north Oxfordshire Grim's Ditch system which was built in several
phases. Part excavation of the earthwork nearest to the villa has provided a
pre-Roman Iron Age date for its construction.
Two of the three earthworks run principally north-south while the third and
shortest length is aligned roughly NNE-SSW.
The westernmost of the two roughly parallel lengths originally ran south for a
total distance of c.860m from a point immediately west of Callow Hill Brake to
a point just north of Wootton Wood. The north end lies on the slope of a well
defined valley running east-west probably wooded in the Iron Age. At the south
end, the final 214m turns slightly south east. The earthwork was originally
continuous, today however a 60m long section has been levelled at Starveall
Farm, breaking the earthwork into two sections. This earthwork had deliberate
terminals marking both north and south ends. Although the monument has been
partly levelled as a result of cultivation, it remains visible at ground level
for much of its length as a low bank 8m wide and varying in height from 0.3m
in the south to nearly 1m in the north. To the east of the bank lies a ditch
which is largely infilled but which can clearly be seen on aerial photographs.
This ditch varies slightly in width but is 21m across at its widest point.
Although, at the southern end, 150m of the bank is no longer visible at ground
level, it is known from aerial photographs to survive as a partly levelled
feature buried below the present ploughsoil.
The eastern earthwork consists of a rampart bank which lies c.300m east of the
first, with its north end lying in Callow Hill Brake on the same valley slope.
It runs south in a gentle curve to the south west for a distance of 1,196m to
a point where it passes 8m south of the end of the first section, creating an
access gap between the areas divided by two earthworks.
The final section is only c.100m long and appears never to have been any more
extensive. It consists of a partly levelled rampart measuring 8m across and
now standing c.0.3m high. To the north west there is a 10m wide ditch which is
no longer visible at ground level but which survives buried below the modern
ground level as an-infilled feature clearly visible on aerial photographs.
All three sections lie close to the later Roman villa enclosure of Callow Hill
which is the subject of a separate scheduling.
Excluded from the scheduling are all post and wire fence boundaries which
cross the monument and the road surface although the land 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

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 three sections of the north Oxfordshire Grim's Ditch system, situated east
of Callow Hill Roman villa are known to survive well despite having been
partly levelled by cultivation. Evidence from aerial photographs and part
excavation show that they contain archaeological evidence relating to their
construction, function and the landscape in which they were built. In addition
they form the best known group of internal land boundary features within the
Grim's Ditch complex and as such will provide important evidence of land
division in the Iron Age period and subsequent changes associated with the
development of the nearby villa in the Roman period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Thomas, N, Hunter, A, 'Oxoniensia' in Notes and News 10, , Vol. XV 1950, (1952), 108
1226 Plot of A.P. evidence by O.S., C.A.O., EARTHWORKS VISIBLE FROM THE AIR, (1930)
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:10000 Series
Source Date: 1970
SP 41 NW
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:10000 Series
Source Date: 1970
SP 41 NW Quarter Sheet
Title: Sites and Monuments Overlay for Ordnance Survey 1:10,000
Source Date: 1994
Sheet SP 41 NW
Various entries, C.A.O., North Oxfordshire Grim's Ditch, (1989)
Various, CRAWFORD, O.G.S., Photographs, (1930)

Source: Historic England

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