Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Cross dyke on Mere Down, east of White Sheet Hill hillfort

A Scheduled Monument in Mere, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 51.1112 / 51°6'40"N

Longitude: -2.2723 / 2°16'20"W

OS Eastings: 381033.39829

OS Northings: 134693.238231

OS Grid: ST810346

Mapcode National: GBR 0TX.8B8

Mapcode Global: VH980.KBLH

Entry Name: Cross dyke on Mere Down, east of White Sheet Hill hillfort

Scheduled Date: 17 September 1955

Last Amended: 19 March 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017710

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26865

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Mere

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: Mere St Michael the Archangel

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument includes an extensive cross dyke, aligned north-south, which lies
on Mere Down 430m east of White Sheet Hill hillfort. The dyke extends over a
distance of 620m, its northern end terminating abruptly at a point on the west
facing side of a dry valley, 300m north of the Mere Down track. At its
southern extremity, the earthworks of the dyke terminate more gradually on the
steep slope which leads south, down into Great Bottom. The overall profile of
the dyke varies considerably according to topography, with the section which
lies on level ground to the south of the Mere Down track exhibiting the
greatest complexity. Here the main ditch, about 5m wide, is flanked by banks
on either side with two additional, but slighter, ditches and an additional
low bank on its eastern side. The overall maximum width of this complex
earthwork is 17.5m with a maximum height difference between the base of the
main ditch and the top of the adjacent bank being 1.8m. In contrast, the best
preserved section of the dyke to the north of the Mere Down track includes a
3m wide ditch and a low bank, approximately 8m wide, on its western downslope
Small scale excavation carried out in 1990 at a point immediately north of the
Mere Down track showed the ditch, which at this point survived as a buried
feature, to be 3.1m wide and 1.05m deep.
All fence posts are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath
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 Mere Down 430m east of White Sheet Hill hillfort is a well
preserved example of its class and forms an integral part of the formalised
later prehistoric landscape centred on White Sheet Hill hillfort. In addition
the dyke will contain archaeological remains providing evidence of prehistoric
landuse and environment.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Rawlings, M, 'Wiltshire Arch Magazine - forthcoming' in Excavation and Survey at Whitesheet Hill, Wiltshire 1989-90, (), TBA

Source: Historic England

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