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Enclosure on Sheep Down 930m south east of Heart Clump

A Scheduled Monument in Littlebredy, Dorset

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.691 / 50°41'27"N

Longitude: -2.563 / 2°33'46"W

OS Eastings: 360330.075608

OS Northings: 88080.702012

OS Grid: SY603880

Mapcode National: GBR PV.B3WW

Mapcode Global: FRA 57J7.TKR

Entry Name: Enclosure on Sheep Down 930m south east of Heart Clump

Scheduled Date: 8 August 1957

Last Amended: 13 October 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016912

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29097

County: Dorset

Civil Parish: Littlebredy

Traditional County: Dorset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: The Winterbournes

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury

Details

The monument includes a late prehistoric enclosure situated on the gently
sloping north face slope of Sheep Down, overlooking the South Winterborne
Valley.
The enclosure, which is sub-rectangular in plan, has a slightly raised
interior with dimensions of 45m by 25m, enclosed by a bank 3.5m wide and
about 0.45m high, with an outer ditch 4m wide and about 0.5m deep. There are
indications of an outer bank 3m wide and 0.2m high along the northern and
southern sides. A single entrance situated in the centre of the eastern side
includes a gap in the bank 5m wide and a ramp across the ditch 3m wide.
Partial excavations conducted by W Putnam in 1970 found the banks to be
constructed of turf with a gravel core derived from the ditch. The ditch was
`V'-shaped in section, with dimensions of 4m wide at the top and 2m wide at
the base. The entrance was associated with a pair of post holes which may mark
the position of a pair of gates. The enclosure has rounded corners and,
following the excavation, Putnam suggested that the site represented a Roman
military fort built around the period of the Roman conquest and which may
have served a signalling function. However, the enclosure is not of a typical
Roman form and there are traces of internal subdivisions which are unlikely to
be consistent with those of a Roman fort. No structural foundations were
identified, although finds included a range of pottery dating from the Late
Bronze Age to the later Romano-British period. This wide range of pottery from
the site and the form of the enclosure would suggest a prehistoric origin
(most probably during the later Bronze Age), with its use continuing over many
centuries. It is likely that the enclosure was associated with the field
system situated on the steep slopes of the valley to the south west. This is
the subject of a separate scheduling.
All fence posts relating to modern field boundaries are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath is included.

MAP EXTRACT
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

Small enclosed settlements dating from the Middle Bronze Age are often
associated with earlier field systems and are known on some sites to have
replaced earlier unenclosed settlements. Enclosures of both sub-rectangular
and curvilinear plan are known; the sites are wholly or partly surrounded by a
ditch, bank or palisade, or by a combination or succession of all three. Where
excavated, sites have usually been found to contain a small group of domestic
buildings sufficient for a single or extended family group, although a few
larger enclosures are known. Evidence of a succession of buildings has been
found on some sites. The buildings are usually circular in plan but occasional
rectangular structures are known. Both types of building would have provided a
combination of living accommodation and storage or working areas. Storage pits
have been recorded inside buildings on some sites but are generally rarely
present. In addition to pottery and worked flint, large quantities of burnt
stone and metal working debris have been found in some enclosures.
Although the precise figure is not known, many small enclosed settlements are
located on the chalk downland of southern England. As a class they are
integral to understanding Bronze Age settlement and land use strategies, while
their often close proximity to the numerous burial monuments in the area will
provide insights into the relationship between secular and ceremonial activity
during the Middle Bronze Age.
A small number of small enclosed settlements survive on downland as visible
earthworks; the majority, however, occur in areas of more intensive
cultivation and survive in buried form, visible only from the air as soil
marks and crop marks. All examples with visible earthworks, and those in
buried form which retain significant surviving remains, are considered to be
of national importance.

The enclosure on Sheep Down 930m south east of Heart Clump survives well and
is known from partial excavation to contain archaeological and environmental
evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was
constructed. The enclosure is likely to have a Late Bronze Age origin and
partial excavation suggests that it continued in use over an extended period.
The enclosure is likely to have been closely associated with the field system
situated to the south west. A second smaller enclosure (which has since been
destroyed), lay to the south east and may have performed a complementary role.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 508
Putnam, W G, 'Proc Dorset Nat Hist Arch Soc' in Interim report on Excavations at Black Down, , Vol. 92, (1970), 140-141

Source: Historic England

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