Ancient Monuments

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Medieval estate boundary earthwork on Shute Shelve Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Winscombe and Sandford, North Somerset

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Latitude: 51.3009 / 51°18'3"N

Longitude: -2.8243 / 2°49'27"W

OS Eastings: 342627.1002

OS Northings: 156071.03

OS Grid: ST426560

Mapcode National: GBR JF.Y69C

Mapcode Global: VH7CV.0K7M

Entry Name: Medieval estate boundary earthwork on Shute Shelve Hill

Scheduled Date: 2 November 1976

Last Amended: 31 January 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015495

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29034

County: North Somerset

Civil Parish: Winscombe and Sandford

Built-Up Area: Winscombe

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


The monument includes a medieval boundary earthwork on the northern end
of Shute Shelve Hill. The boundary consists of a shallow bank and ditch, the
bank being on the north side. From earliest records the feature is also
described as a road or trackway, and its line remains used as a trackway
today, the track being immediately to the south, and is a parish boundary.
The earthwork consists of a bank up to 0.5m high and 3.5m wide, and a
hollow or ditch of similar depth and width on its south side. In places there
are other hollows and banks of similar appearance, related to its use as a
This section of earthwork begins in the west above a meeting of trackways. It
runs uphill with a drystone wall alongside it, which follows it onto open
ground on the top of the hill, where it ends at the start of Callow Drove, a
medieval droveway across the hill which has been enclosed by later stone
The lower section runs in a virtually straight line up the hill, with the
modern trackway running immediately alongside it to the south. Lengths of
parallel slight hollow and bank are present in places beside the later wall.
East of this section the land opens out onto an area of heathland, again with
the boundary work and accompanying drystone wall on its north edge. At this
point, however, the ground steepens, and the feature wanders in a series of
curves up the hill. There are a number of hollow ways diverging from the
earthwork here, short-cutting the lower curve and taking alternative nearby
routes up the hill, again evidencing the use of the feature as a routeway.
To the west, the boundary continued further downhill to the present A38 main
road, but although there are a number of earthworks here in an area disturbed
by old quarrying, the actual route of the boundary earthwork is not clear.
The western end of the boundary is described in a Saxon charter of 1067, as
part of the Compton Bishop estate boundary. The charter describes the `path
uphill' and the `Rode' up Callow. The eastern stretches appear in boundary
perambulations of what had become the Royal Forest of Mendip, between 1219 and
1300, where the boundary is described as `Trenchiata' or `la Rudyngge'
(notable ditch or riding/road). Part of the boundary is also described as the
`Ridingewaye' in the boundaries of the Borough Liberties of Axbridge, copied
in 1599 from an earlier, now lost, document. The boundary remains the parish
boundary between Winscombe and Sandford and Axbridge.
At the eastern end of the earthwork, less than 100m to its south, is a
large natural boulder identified as the medieval boundary marker called the
`Donstone' in the boundaries of the Borough Liberties of Axbridge. This stone
is not included in the scheduling.
Excluded from the scheduling are modern fence posts, though the ground beneath
them is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Early medieval and medieval land and estate boundaries took a number of forms,
varying from natural markers (stones or even trees) on open ground, to massive
earthworks of a defensive nature between disputed territories. Estate
boundaries were non-defensive features demarcating the land of an estate from
its neighbours, and included ditches, banks and hedges or a combination of
these. They formed an integral part of the shaping of the landscape in early
medieval times, often becoming later parish boundaries, some of which survive
into modern times. As a monument type they provide a valuable insight into
early medieval society and land organisation, often relating to contemporary
documents, and the development of the English landscape, and any examples with
upstanding earthworks are likely to be considered of national importance. The
example on Shute Shelve Hill survives well, with a documentary history running
from the 13th century.

Source: Historic England


In SMR site 10061, Neale, F, (1975)
OSAD Record Card ST45NW 40, (1978)
Source Date:
Ordnance Survey Map used for previous sched. docs

Source: Historic England

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