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Bronze Age enclosure and linear boundary earthwork on Boscombe Down East

A Scheduled Monument in Idmiston, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 51.1339 / 51°8'2"N

Longitude: -1.6694 / 1°40'9"W

OS Eastings: 423226.212733

OS Northings: 137231.156324

OS Grid: SU232372

Mapcode National: GBR 61Y.YK4

Mapcode Global: VHC32.0RSM

Entry Name: Bronze Age enclosure and linear boundary earthwork on Boscombe Down East

Scheduled Date: 14 March 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017273

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26789

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Idmiston

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: Allington with Boscombe St John the Baptist

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument includes a rectangular earthwork enclosure lying at the base of a
north west facing slope on Boscombe Down East together with a 110m length of
linear boundary ditch which post dates the enclosure. The enclosure was
partly excavated by JFS Stone in 1935 and surveyed by the Royal Commission
on Historical Monuments of England in 1991.
The ditched enclosure, which was originally open on its south western side,
measures a maximum of 45m (north west-south east) by 39m and encloses an area
of approximately 0.13ha. The ditch now appears as a shallow depression
but was shown by excavation to be 2m wide and 1.3m deep with steep sides and a
flat bottom. A single original gap 1m wide can be seen on the south eastern
side and Stone's excavations showed further, wider entrances on the north east
(3.2m) and west (6m) sides. A post-built gate structure was identified on the
inside of the north east entrance confirming that originally there was an
internal bank, slight traces of which can be identified in the south west
corner, but which has elsewhere been reduced in height by cultivation. Around
the north west corner of the enclosure there is a broad external bank 2m wide
and 0.6m high but this may possibly be the spoil heap from Stone's
excavations. The excavations demonstrated that the enclosure dates to the
Middle Bronze Age and may post date an area of unenclosed settlement which
extends for an undefined distance beyond the south westerly limits of the
enclosure. Two pits containing Beaker pottery were found about 75m from the
south western corner of the enclosure.
The linear ditch, part of an extensive north west-south east boundary
earthwork which may extend for a total distance of over 1300m, intersects the
enclosure ditch near its southern corner, effectively forming its south
western side.
Excavation has shown this linear ditch to be very steep-sided in profile
with a flat base, 3m wide at the top and 1m wide at the bottom, and
1.2m deep. The length of ditch included within the scheduling is a 110m long
section which extends 30m south east of the enclosure and 35m to the north
west. Within this section it is visible as a shallow depression 0.35m deep
marked by differential vegetation growth and increased animal burrowing.
Beyond this, its position, indicated on aerial photographs, cannot easily be
verified on the ground and is not included in the scheduling.
All archaeological site markers 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

Since 1916 the Porton Down Range has been used for military purposes. As on
the Salisbury Plain Training Area, this has meant that it has not been subject
to the intensive arable farming seen elsewhere on the Wessex chalk. Porton, as
a result, is one of very few surviving areas of uncultivated chalk downland in
England and contains a range of well preserved archaeological sites, many of
Neolithic or Bronze Age date. These include long and round barrows, flint
mines, and evidence for settlement, land division and agriculture.
Of the settlements, small enclosed examples 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 and
crop marks. All examples with visible earthworks, and those in buried form
which retain significant surviving remains, are considered to be of national
The Bronze Age enclosure on Boscombe Down East is a well preserved
example of its class in which the enclosure earthworks can be seen to be
integrated with a later linear boundary earthwork. In addition, buried
deposits within the earthwork and its interior will contain information about
Middle Bronze Age economy and environment.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
McOmish, D, An Enclosure on Boscombe Down East, (1991)
McOmish, D, An Enclosure on Boscombe Down East, (1991)
Stone, J F S, 'Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine' in An Enclosure on Boscombe Down East, (1937), 466-489
Stone, J F S, 'Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine' in An Enclosure on Boscombe Down East, (1937), 466-89

Source: Historic England

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