Ancient Monuments

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Part of a prehistoric field system on Codford Down

A Scheduled Monument in Chitterne, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 51.1854 / 51°11'7"N

Longitude: -2.0313 / 2°1'52"W

OS Eastings: 397911.045919

OS Northings: 142905.372664

OS Grid: ST979429

Mapcode National: GBR 2WX.P7W

Mapcode Global: VHB56.RG0N

Entry Name: Part of a prehistoric field system on Codford Down

Scheduled Date: 12 April 1957

Last Amended: 16 July 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016559

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31668

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Chitterne

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: Codford St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument includes part of what was once an extensive area of later
prehistoric field of regular aggregate type, surviving in the form of three
lynchets, on the south facing slope of Codford Down descending into the valley
of the Chitterne Brook.
The lynchets run from east to west across a small plantation. The lower
lynchet is 250m long and 3m high. A break towards the centre is on the line of
a modern track. The middle lynchet which is confined to the area of
plantation, is 75m long and 4.5m high. At its west end it curves sharply to
the south to line up with a small bank running north to south for a length of
10m. The upper lynchet is 210m long and 2.5m high at the eastern end. Towards
the west the height of the lynchet decreases gradually until it is no longer
To the east of the plantation the lynchets have been reduced by cultivation
but remain visible as cropmarks. To the west the lower and higher lynchets
extend to form the northern and southern boundaries of a small field, the area
between having been levelled by cultivation.
To the south the extant and ploughed remains of this field system partly
enclose and respect a barrow cemetery of slightly earlier date which is the
subject of a separate scheduling.
All fenceposts and cattle troughs 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

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 lynchets on the southern slope of Codford Down survive well and represent
the only unploughed sections of an extensive field system once covering at
least 255ha and providing an important insight into agricultural practice and
the intensity of land use in the later prehistoric period. Their association
with a round barrow cemetery immediately to the south provides evidence for
the respect later prehistoric communities paid to monuments of earlier date.

Source: Historic England

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