Ancient Monuments

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Field system and earthwork enclosure on Burderop Down

A Scheduled Monument in Wroughton, Swindon

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Latitude: 51.4867 / 51°29'12"N

Longitude: -1.7704 / 1°46'13"W

OS Eastings: 416037.455825

OS Northings: 176443.572495

OS Grid: SU160764

Mapcode National: GBR 4W7.P7F

Mapcode Global: VHB3T.8WDN

Entry Name: Field system and earthwork enclosure on Burderop Down

Scheduled Date: 12 September 1956

Last Amended: 29 January 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016383

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28961

County: Swindon

Civil Parish: Wroughton

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire


The monument includes a field system and earthwork enclosure located north
east of Upper Herdswick Farm on the northern edge of the Marlborough Downs.
The field system extends for approximately 600m across the north-facing slopes
of Burderop Down and follows a north east to south west alignment, orientated
diagonal to the slope. Individual fields vary in shape and include both long,
narrow and smaller square examples. The enclosing field boundaries are formed
by well preserved banks up to 1.5m high and 10m wide which define units of
land ranging in size from 2ha to 3ha.
An earthwork enclosure overlies the field system. It is sub-rectangular in
plan, 120m wide, 96m long and formed by a bank up to 0.6m high with an
external ditch 5m wide and 0.4m deep. The original function of the enclosure
is uncertain. It has been interpreted as a post-medieval sheepfold and a map
of 1888 shows it enclosing a tree plantation.
The memorial stone situated near the south western perimeter of the monument,
together with all cattle feeders, water troughs and 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.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Regular aggregate field systems date from the Bronze Age (2000-700 BC) to the
end of the fifth century AD. They usually cover areas of up to 100ha and
comprise a discrete block of fields orientated in roughly the same direction,
with the field boundaries laid out along two axes set at right angles to one
another. Individual fields generally fall within the 0.1ha-3.2ha range and can
be square, rectangular, long and narrow, triangular or polygonal in shape. The
field boundaries can take various forms (including drystone walls or reaves,
orthostats, earth and rubble banks, pit alignments, ditches, fences and
lynchets) and follow straight or sinuous courses. Component features common to
most systems include entrances and trackways, and the settlements or
farmsteads from which people utilised the fields over the years have been
identified in some cases. These are usually situated close to or within the
field system.
The development of field systems is seen as a response to the competition for
land which began during the later prehistoric period. The majority are thought
to have been used mainly for crop production, evidenced by the common
occurrence of lynchets resulting from frequent ploughing, although rotation
may also have been practised in a mixed farming economy. Regular aggregate
field systems occur widely and have been recorded in south western and south
eastern England, East Anglia, Cheshire, Cumbria, Nottinghamshire, North and
South Yorkshire and Durham. They represent a coherent economic unit often
utilised for long periods of time and can thus provide important information
about developments in agricultural practices in a particular location and
broader patterns of social, cultural and environmental change over several
centuries. Those which survive well and/or which can be positively linked to
associated settlements are considered to merit protection.

The field system on the northern slope of Burderop Down survives well and is a
fine example of its class.
Although the precise date and function of the earthwork enclosure located
within the field system is unclear, it is well preserved and has the potential
to provide valuable information relating to the monument and the landsape in
which it was constructed.

Source: Historic England

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