Ancient Monuments

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Soldier's Ring

A Scheduled Monument in Martin, Hampshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.9575 / 50°57'27"N

Longitude: -1.8848 / 1°53'5"W

OS Eastings: 408184.814627

OS Northings: 117574.086172

OS Grid: SU081175

Mapcode National: GBR 414.Y0N

Mapcode Global: FRA 66YL.1JP

Entry Name: Soldier's Ring

Scheduled Date: 24 November 1951

Last Amended: 18 March 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017900

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31160

County: Hampshire

Civil Parish: Martin

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hampshire

Church of England Parish: Damerham St George

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury

Details

The monument includes Soldier's Ring, a large, polygonal or kite-shaped
earthwork enclosure, probably of Romano-British date, situated across the
shallow bottom of Blackheath Down. The regular earthworks completely enclose
an area of about 10.5ha of gently sloping and flat land, embracing two valleys
rising from the Allen River to the north east.
The earthworks survive around most of the perimeter as a pair of banks, 11m-
13m across, separated by a ditch and berm. They have been constructed in
straight sections joined at sharp angles. The inner bank stands 0.5m-0.9m
above the interior and 0.7m-1.1m above the ditch bottom while the outer bank
is generally constructed on higher, rising ground and stands 0.9m-1.2m above
the ditch bottom and 0.3m-0.5m above the exterior except where levelled by
ploughing on the west side. Both banks rise markedly towards the corners. The
berm forms a 1m-2m wide terrace between the ditch and outer bank except where
it is disturbed by a vehicle track which passes between the banks along most
of the north side and where a modern pond has been constructed between the
banks at the north west corner. Traces of an infilled outer ditch are visible
at the eastern end of the northeast side. A geophysical survey by the Royal
Commission on the Historical Monuments of England also indicates the presence
of an outer ditch on the south and south east sides.
An original entrance is probably situated at the lowest point of the site on
the north east side, now much widened by its use as a farm gate although
traces of the outer bank remain visible across much of its width. Early plans
of the enclosure indicate a narrow gap passing obliquely through the
earthworks. A number of other gaps around the perimeter of the enclosure are
the result of later use including the rumoured use of the site as a golf
course.
The interior of the site has been much disturbed by ploughing. A previously
recorded narrow enclosure, 65m by 18m, near the entrance has now been
levelled.
Earlier use of the interior of the monument is indicated by subrectangular
Celtic fields formed by lynchets standing to 1m high, some of which pass
beneath the perimeter earthworks to the south and south east and form part of
an extensive field system predating the enclosure.
Later use of the interior of the monument is indicated by the broad ridges of
medieval or post-medieval ploughing which are most substantial in the western
half of the enclosure.
All posts and associated fencing and gates, animal troughs and the modern well
located between the banks near the entrance are excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath these features 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

Soldier's Ring belongs to a class of rare and poorly understood monuments
known as large polygons or kite-shaped enclosures. Only a few examples are
known in South or Central Wessex, all of which are thought to belong to the
late Roman period, although they bear similarities to earlier Iron Age and
later medieval enclosures. Their size and form may vary considerably depending
on their particular function. Where situated in non-defensive locations, they
are usually constructed in order to enclose a valley head with water sources
and were probably used as stock pens or as protected areas for crop growing.
They provide evidence of land use and agricultural practices during the
Romano-British period and all surviving examples are considered worthy of
protection.
The enclosure and associated earthworks of Soldier's Ring can be expected to
retain archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to their
original construction and subsequent use as well as the earlier prehistoric
use of the landscape. A Bronze Age ring ditch lies 55m to the east and an Iron
Age and Romano-British settlement with associated hollow ways and trackways
lies 250m to the north east.
Much of the adjacent archaeological landscape of Blackheath Down and the
surrounding area, including Martin Down and Tidpit Common Down, is preserved
as earthworks or crop-marks of numerous classes of monument of Bronze Age and
later date. Their close association will provide a detailed understanding of
the nature and development of the early use of downland for ritual,
agricultural and settlement purposes.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Bowen, H C, Eagles, B N (ed), The archaeology of Bokerley Dyke, (1990), 52-57
Bowen, H C, Eagles, B N (ed), The archaeology of Bokerley Dyke, (1990), 57
Colt Hoare, R, The Ancient History of Wiltshire: Volume I, (1812), 234
Sumner, H, The Ancient Earthworks of Cranborne Chase, (1913), 39
Williams-Freeman, JP, Introduction to field archaeology as illustrated by Hampshire, (1915), 197 409
Other
Crawford, O G S and Keiller, A, Wessex from the Air, (1928)
Plate IX, Crawford, O.G.S., Air Survey and Archaeology, (1924)

Source: Historic England

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