Ancient Monuments

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Linear boundary earthwork and associated field system on Cherhill Down

A Scheduled Monument in Cherhill, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 51.4247 / 51°25'28"N

Longitude: -1.9067 / 1°54'24"W

OS Eastings: 406580.9095

OS Northings: 169523.0994

OS Grid: SU065695

Mapcode National: GBR 3VH.QR8

Mapcode Global: VHB43.WGV6

Entry Name: Linear boundary earthwork and associated field system on Cherhill Down

Scheduled Date: 7 July 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018431

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31654

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Cherhill

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: Cherhill St James the Great

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument, which falls into two areas, includes a length of linear boundary
earthwork situated on Cherhill Down, a northern promontory of the Marlborough
Downs to the west of Avebury.
The monument runs approximately east-west for a length of 2.3km and appears as
a ditch up to 1.6m deep and 6m wide flanked to the south by a bank up to 1m
high and 6m wide. The shorter western section of the boundary, which
terminates north east of Oldbury Camp hillfort, survives in a small
plantation. The boundary runs for 135m down an east facing slope into the head
of a dry valley, where it has been reduced by ploughing and is visible only as
a soilmark. The largest section to the east of this runs along the valley on
its south facing slope. It is cut in two places by tracks running down the
slope into the valley, although at both locations the buried remains of the
ditch will survive. This section terminates at its eastern end at a small rise
where there is a further break in the earthwork. A section to the east of this
is the subject of a separate scheduling.
Toward the middle of the earthwork, a small field system abuts the linear
boundary on its southern side, defined by lynchets 5m wide. The fields which
are interpreted as a Late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age field system run
parallel to the earthwork for a length of 600m.
A circular feature which crosses the earthwork is interpreted as a tree
plantation ring and is not included in the scheduling in its own right, beyond
the extent of the linear earthwork.
The section between the two areas of protection has been reduced by ploughing
and is no longer visible at ground level. It is not included in the
All fence posts 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

Linear boundaries are substantial earthwork features comprising single or
multiple ditches and banks which may extend over distances varying between
less than 1km to over 10km. They survive as earthworks or as linear features
visible as cropmarks on aerial photographs or as a combination of both. The
evidence of excavation and study of associated monuments demonstrate that
their construction spans the millennium from the Middle Bronze Age, although
they may have been re-used later.
The scale of many linear boundaries has been taken to indicate that they were
constructed by large social groups and were used to mark important boundaries
in the landscape; their impressive scale displaying the corporate prestige of
their builders. They would have been powerful symbols, often with religious
associations, used to define and order the territorial holdings of those
groups who constructed them. Linear earthworks are of considerable importance
for the analysis of settlement and land use in the Bronze Age; all well
preserved examples will normally merit statutory protection.

The linear boundary earthwork survives well and is a good example of Late
Bronze Age or Early Iron Age land division. It is one of a series of linear
earthworks recorded on the downs to the west of Avebury. The surviving extent
of the field system is a remnant of a once common feature of the Wessex
landscape; its association with the linear boundary will provide evidence for
the development of land division and agricultural practices in the later
prehistoric period.

Source: Historic England


Crawford, O G S and Keiller, A, Wessex from the Air, (1928)

Source: Historic England

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