Ancient Monuments

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Linear boundary earthwork on Amesbury Down west of Stock Bottom

A Scheduled Monument in Amesbury, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 51.1548 / 51°9'17"N

Longitude: -1.78 / 1°46'48"W

OS Eastings: 415479.3775

OS Northings: 139530.8564

OS Grid: SU154395

Mapcode National: GBR 509.DSY

Mapcode Global: VHB5K.37BK

Entry Name: Linear boundary earthwork on Amesbury Down west of Stock Bottom

Scheduled Date: 3 May 1955

Last Amended: 3 January 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015218

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28935

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Amesbury

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: Amesbury St Mary and St Melor

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument includes a section of linear boundary earthwork aligned broadly
north - south on a gentle south west facing slope of Amesbury Down, west of
Stock Bottom. The earthwork is the southernmost surviving section of a more
extensive linear boundary, traces of which are visible on aerial photographs
immediately to the north.
The overall form of the linear boundary varies within the monument. Its most
northerly section survives for a length of 120m as a ditch 3.5m wide and 0.5m
deep on either side of which a bank has previously been recorded. The overall
width of the boundary at this point was recorded as 12m. For a further 90m
south of this section the ditch of the boundary survives as a soilmark 4m wide
and traces of a bank are visible as a soilmark 4m wide on its eastern side.
The boundary here changes direction to run north west - south east. Part
excavation at this point in 1966 revealed three phases of construction and a
possible gate structure. From this point for a distance of 170m the boundary
survives as a ditch 6m wide and 0.5m deep flanked on its north east side by a
bank 6m wide and 0.9m high. There are no indications within this section of a
bank on the other side of the ditch. At the southern end of this section the
bank has been levelled by the Stock Bottom road, beneath which the ditch will
survive as a buried feature. To the south of the road the final 90m length of
the boundary was previously recorded as a ditch flanked on either side by a
bank and with an overall width of 10m. The banks have been levelled and the
ditch infilled by cultivation but the ditch will survive as a buried feature.
The linear boundary earthwork lies within an extensive ancient field system.
This has largely been levelled by cultivation and is not included within the
The modern road surface and all 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

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 as cropmarks on aerial photographs or as a combination of both. The
evidence of excavation and study of associated monuments demonstrate that
their construction spans the millennium from the Middle Bronze Age, although
they may have been re-used later.
The scale of many linear boundaries has been taken to indicate that they were
constructed by large social groups and were used to mark important boundaries
in the landscape; their impressive scale displaying the corporate prestige of
their builders. They would have been powerful symbols, often with religious
associations, used to define and order the territorial holdings of those
groups who constructed them. Linear earthworks 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 earthwork survives well in places and will provide
valuable information relating to the monument and the landscape in which it
was constructed.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
'Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine' in Excavation and Fieldwork in Wiltshire (add) 1966, , Vol. 63, (1968), 115

Source: Historic England

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