Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Cross dyke on Okeford Hill 880m south east of Hartcliff Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Okeford Fitzpaine, Dorset

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Latitude: 50.8865 / 50°53'11"N

Longitude: -2.2696 / 2°16'10"W

OS Eastings: 381133.141726

OS Northings: 109706.373423

OS Grid: ST811097

Mapcode National: GBR 0XM.90T

Mapcode Global: FRA 664R.MMW

Entry Name: Cross dyke on Okeford Hill 880m south east of Hartcliff Farm

Scheduled Date: 22 March 1934

Last Amended: 7 July 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016690

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31067

County: Dorset

Civil Parish: Okeford Fitzpaine

Traditional County: Dorset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: Okeford Fitzpaine St Andrew

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument includes a cross dyke on Okeford Hill 880m south east of
Hartcliffe Farm, crossing a north facing spur from WSW to ENE. It is one of
four dykes on the edge of the plateau, possibly associated with the broadly
contemporary settlement and fields at Ringmoor 1.5km to the south. These other
sites are the subject of separate schedulings.
The cross dyke runs from close to the edge of the coombe in the east to a
hollow way, marking a previous track, just below the crest of the spur in the
west. It has been reduced in height by past ploughing and is visible as a low
earthwork at its eastern end. Further west it is no longer visible on the
surface except at the field boundaries where it can be seen in profile. It has
a bank up to 8m wide and 0.5m high, with, on its southern side, a ditch,
visible as a slight depression up to 4m wide and 0.3m deep. Celtic fields have
been identified on both sides of the cross dyke but, as they are no longer
clearly visible on the surface in the vicinity of the monument, they are not
included in the scheduling.
All fence posts and the road surface 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

Cross dykes are substantial linear earthworks typically between 0.2km and 1km
long and comprising one or more ditches arranged beside and parallel to one or
more banks. They generally occur in upland situations, running across ridges
and spurs. They are recognised as earthworks or as cropmarks on aerial
photographs, or as combinations of both. The evidence of excavation and
analogy with associated monuments demonstrates that their construction spans
the millennium from the Middle Bronze Age, although they may have been re-used
later. Current information favours the view that they were used as territorial
boundary markers, probably demarcating land allotment within communities,
although they may also have been used as trackways, cattle droveways or
defensive earthworks. Cross dykes are one of the few monument types which
illustrate how land was divided up in the prehistoric period. They are of
considerable importance for any analysis of settlement and land use in the
Bronze Age. Very few have survived to the present day and hence all well-
preserved examples are considered to be of national importance.

The cross dyke on Okeford Hill 880m south east of Hartcliff Farm will contain
archaeological remains providing information about later prehistoric land use
and environment. This is one of several cross dykes around a contemporary
settlement providing an unusual and significant association.

Source: Historic England

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