Ancient Monuments

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Cross dyke 480m and 690m NNW of Fontmell Hill House

A Scheduled Monument in Fontmell Magna, Dorset

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.9558 / 50°57'20"N

Longitude: -2.1602 / 2°9'36"W

OS Eastings: 388843.90418

OS Northings: 117386.875306

OS Grid: ST888173

Mapcode National: GBR 1Y4.STS

Mapcode Global: FRA 66CL.28P

Entry Name: Cross dyke 480m and 690m NNW of Fontmell Hill House

Scheduled Date: 12 July 1961

Last Amended: 24 September 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019028

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31068

County: Dorset

Civil Parish: Fontmell Magna

Traditional County: Dorset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: Fontmell Magna St Andrew

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury

Details

The monument includes, in two separate areas, a cross dyke, known as Tennerley
Ditch, extending north west-south east across a ridge, 480m and 690m NNW of
Fontmell Hill House. It is one of five similar monuments at the end of the
escarpment, the remainder of which are the subject of separate schedulings.
The earthworks are located to the east and the west of the Shaftesbury to
Blandford Road. In his book `The ancient earthworks of Cranborne Chase',
published in 1913, Heywood Sumner notes that Thomas Aldwell suggested in 1618
that this earthwork was reused to mark the inner boundary of The Chase at this
point.
The eastern section of the cross dyke extends for about 320m from the brow of
the ridge down an eastward facing slope, and has a bank up to 6m wide and 0.7m
high with a ditch on its northern side, 2.5m wide and 0.5m deep. It has been
truncated in places by woodland tracks and banks. The western section,
extending for approximately 190m from the brow of the hill and fading out on a
steep slope, has a bank, up to 8m wide and 1m high, with a ditch on the
northern side, up to 3.5m wide and 1m high, and has been truncated by a track.
It is not clear if the cross dyke originally extended fully across the ridge
between the two sections of surviving earthwork as this area has been partly
disturbed by the main road. Limited excavation in 1995 by the side of the
road, on the extrapolated line of the cross dyke, showed no evidence for its
presence in this area, perhaps suggesting an original gap. Due to later
disturbance and the uncertainty about the existence of a buried earthwork in
this area, the central section has not been included in the scheduling.
All fence and gate posts 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

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 480m and 690m NNW of Fontmell Hill House is a well preserved
example of its class and will contain archaeological remains providing
information about later prehistoric land use and environment. The reuse of the
monument as a boundary of Cranborne Chase is also notable. This is one of five
cross dykes in close proximity at the end of the escarpment, providing an
unusual and significant association.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Sumner, H, The Ancient Earthworks of Cranborne Chase, (1988), 67
Other
Manuscript report, Valentin, J , C13 improvement & Melbury Abbas bypass Environmental Statement, (1995)

Source: Historic England

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