Ancient Monuments

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Group of six pillow mounds 470m north west of Barnston Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Church Knowle, Dorset

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Latitude: 50.6376 / 50°38'15"N

Longitude: -2.1014 / 2°6'4"W

OS Eastings: 392928.145947

OS Northings: 81990.032251

OS Grid: SY929819

Mapcode National: GBR 33D.X4T

Mapcode Global: FRA 67HD.169

Entry Name: Group of six pillow mounds 470m north west of Barnston Farm

Scheduled Date: 16 January 1968

Last Amended: 18 November 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015353

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28341

County: Dorset

Civil Parish: Church Knowle

Traditional County: Dorset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: Church Knowle St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument includes a group of six pillow mounds, aligned north east by
south west, and situated on an upper terrace of a south-facing slope
overlooking the Corfe Valley.
Each pillow mound has a mound composed of earth, chalk and flint, with maximum
dimensions of between 13m-16m in length, 6m-10m in width and c.0.5m-c.0.75 in
height. Three of the mounds are aligned north east by south west, set at right
angles to the hillside, and three are aligned north west by south east,
running along the slope of the hillside. The two alignments are interspaced
within the group. The mounds are associated with ditches from which material
was quarried during their construction. The ditches were recorded as slight
earthworks in 1952, when dimensions of between 1.8m-2.2m in width and c.0.1m-
c.0.3m in depth were recorded. The ditches have since become infilled, but
will survive as buried features.
The pillow mounds are situated to the north of a medieval manorial settlement
at Barnston, with which they are likely to have been associated. This group of
pillow mounds can be compared with similar features associated with a medieval
settlement at Eastington, near to Worth Matravers c.7km to the south east.

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 warren is an area of land set aside for the breeding and management of
rabbits or hares in order to provide a constant supply of fresh meat and
skins. Although the hare is an indigenous species, the tradition of warren
construction and use dates from the 12th century, following the introduction
of rabbits into England from the continent. Warrens usually contain a number
of purpose-built breeding places known as pillow mounds or rabbit buries,
which were intended to centralise the colony and make catching the animals
easier, whether using nets, ferrets or dogs. The mounds vary in design
although rarely exceeding 0.7m in height. Earlier monuments such as burial
mounds, boundary features and mottes were sometimes reused as breeding places.
The mounds are usually surrounded by ditches and contain underlying channels
or are situated on sloping ground to facilitate drainage. The interior of the
mound may also contain nesting places constructed of stone slabs or cut into
the underlying subsoil or bedrock.
A typical warren may contain between one and forty pillow mounds or rabbit
buries and occupy an area up to c.600ha. Many warrens were enclosed by a bank,
hedge or wall intended to contain and protect the stock. Other features
associated with the warren include vermin traps (usually a dead-fall mechanism
within a small tunnel), and more rarely traps for the warren stock (known in
Yorkshire as `types') which could contain the animals unharmed and allow for
selective culling. Larger warrens might include living quarters for the
warrener who kept charge of the site, sometimes surrounded by an enclosed
garden and outbuildings.
Early warrens were mostly associated with the higher levels of society;
however, they gradually spread in popularity so that by the 16th and 17th
centuries they were a common feature on most manors and estates throughout the
country. Warrens continued in use until fairly recent times, finally declining
in the face of 19th and 20th century changes in agricultural practice, and the
onset of myxomatosis. Warrens are found in all parts of England, the earliest
examples lying in the southern part of the country. Approximately 1,000 -
2,000 examples are known nationally with concentrations in upland areas, on
heathland and in coastal zones. The profits from a successfully managed warren
could, however, be considerable and many areas in lowland England were set
aside for warrens at the expense of agricultural land. Although relatively
common, warrens are important for their associations with other classes of
monument, including various forms of settlement, deer parks, field systems and
fishponds. They may also provide evidence of the economy of both secular and
ecclesiastical estates. All well preserved medieval examples are considered
worthy of protection. A sample of well preserved sites of later date will also
merit protection.

The pillow mounds 470m north west of Barnston Farm survive well and will
contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the monument and
the landscape in which it was constructed.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 48
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 48
Mention quarry ditches, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Mention survey by OS in 1929, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
RCHME, National Monuments Record,
RCHME, National Monuments Record,
RCHME, National Monuments Record,
RCHME, National Monuments Record,

Source: Historic England

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