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The Warren field system

A Scheduled Monument in Chaldon Herring, Dorset

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Latitude: 50.6262 / 50°37'34"N

Longitude: -2.2881 / 2°17'17"W

OS Eastings: 379713.598701

OS Northings: 80758.76754

OS Grid: SY797807

Mapcode National: GBR 10P.QB8

Mapcode Global: FRA 673F.0D9

Entry Name: The Warren field system

Scheduled Date: 9 October 1981

Last Amended: 16 November 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018435

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29083

County: Dorset

Civil Parish: Chaldon Herring

Traditional County: Dorset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: The Lulworths, Winfrith Newburgh and Chaldon

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument includes the extant remains of an irregular aggregate field
system known as The Warren, situated along the coastal promontories and
associated dry valleys to the south of a prominent chalk ridge.
The remains of the field system, which now extend over an area 202.3ha, was
surveyed by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England in
1970 and also reviewed by Colin Tracy in 1987. The system may have been linked
with other blocks of fields situated to the north, but the intervening areas
have been subjected to intensive ploughing. The name `The Warren' reflects the
later use of the area as a rabbit warren during the post-medieval period.
The field system is focused around the three coombes known as Middle Bottom,
Vicarage Bottom and Scratchy Bottom, all situated to the south of Chaldon
Down. It also extends over the steep slopes of the intervening headlands and
incorporates a dispersed group of four earlier bowl barrows, representing
burial monuments of Bronze Age date. It is possible that the field system
developed to the south of a pre-existing trackway which ran along the
Within the field system ancient ploughing has produced a series of lynchets,
or terraces in the hillsides, which are generally 0.6m to 1.2m in height, but
which are upto 3.5m high in Middle Bottom. Within the terraces there are
individual fields defined by an interconnecting series of field banks and
scoops cut into the hillsides. Vicarage Bottom and Scratchy Bottom contain the
best preserved group of fields. There are over 60 examples within these areas,
which have an average size of about 0.8ha. In general, the size and shape of
the fields within the group relates directly to the associated topography.
There are a group of flint filled hollows, which are likely to represent flint
quarries, across Middle and Vicarage Bottoms. These quarries are of an
uncertain date, but could relate to the construction of the monument.
Although no settlements have yet been positively identified as associated with
the field system, a Romano-British site lies to the north east and could have
been occupied during the time the field system was in use.
Although no detailed palaeoenvironmental sampling has taken place within the
field system and it is therefore not yet possible to detail what crops were
grown here, the ancestry of the site is reflected by the presence of Iron Age
and Romano-British pottery recovered from Scratchy Bottom and Vicarage Bottom,
by the medieval strip lynchets on the eastern part of Newlands Warren, and by
traces of ploughing to the west and in Scratchy Bottom. When the post-medieval
rabbit warren was developed at the site, the Warren House was sited within the
north western area of the monument.
All fence posts and metalled surfaces are excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath them is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Irregular aggregate field systems are generally of later prehistoric and Roman
date and include collections of field plots which do not display conformity in
overall arrangement or orientation. Individual field plots can range in size
from 0.1ha to about 3ha and the irregular units can be rectilinear, polygonal
or sub-circular in plan. Such field systems are spread widely across England,
generally on south-facing slopes, sheltered from prevailing winds, and they
often survive on higher ground, where post-prehistoric land use has often been
of low intensity. Irregular aggregate field systems occur mostly on the chalk
downlands of Wessex, the south west, the Cotswolds, East Midlands, South
Yorkshire, Cumbria and Northumberland. The majority of dated examples fall
between the periods 1750 BC to around 450 AD. However, some examples are known
to date to the Neolithic period, while others from South West England and
often associated with circular enclosures, are known to date to between the
4th to 6th centuries AD. All well preserved examples are considered to be of
national importance.
The field system known as The Warren survives well and will contain
archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the
landscape in which it was constructed. It is an extensive survival, well
preserved and occupying an unusual topographic setting. The steep gradients
within the system will ensure that deposits survive around the lower slopes,
buried by hillwash. This will provide good conditions for the survival of both
palaeoenvironmental samples and evidence of occupation. The Warren also
incorporates earlier archaeological remains, notably bowl barrows, a series of
later fields and boundaries, and a rabbit warren and associated structures.
The use and development of the monument will, therefore, reflect the wide
range of pressures on land-use from the Iron Age to the post-medieval periods.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 628-9
Tracy, C, Historic Landscape of the Weld Estate, (1987), 19-21
Tracy, C, Historic Landscape of the Weld Estate, (1987), 94
Tracy, C, Historic Landscape of the Weld Estate, (1987), 96
Tracy, C, Historic Landscape of the Weld Estate, (1987), 16
Lynchets overlying celtic fields, RCHME, National Monuments Record,

Source: Historic England

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