Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Cross dyke on Bell Hill 610m east of Brooks Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Okeford Fitzpaine, Dorset

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Latitude: 50.881 / 50°52'51"N

Longitude: -2.2817 / 2°16'54"W

OS Eastings: 380275.410194

OS Northings: 109097.398392

OS Grid: ST802090

Mapcode National: GBR 0XL.RY3

Mapcode Global: FRA 663S.2WN

Entry Name: Cross dyke on Bell Hill 610m east of Brooks Farm

Scheduled Date: 18 July 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019363

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33543

County: Dorset

Civil Parish: Okeford Fitzpaine

Traditional County: Dorset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: Belchalwell St Aldheim

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument includes a later prehistoric cross dyke situated on Bell Hill. It
is aligned south west-north east across the spine of a spur which slopes down
to the north, and occupies a prominent position, but is situated below the
crest of the hill. It is one of four similar sites situated on the edge of the
plateau, possibly associated with the broadly contemporary settlement at
Ringmoor, 850m to the south east. The other sites are the subjects of separate
The cross dyke is 70m long and has a bank 8m wide and 1m high with a ditch on
its uphill, southern side, 5m wide and up to 1m deep. At both ends the dyke
runs out short of the shoulder of the spur and the eastern end is cut by the
ditch of a modern hedge. The dyke has been truncated near its centre by a
former track, now a public right of way.
All fence posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath
them 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 Bell Hill 610m east of Brooks Farm is a relatively well
preserved example of its class and will contain archaeological remains
providing information about later prehistoric land use and environment. This
is one of several similar cross dykes around a contemporary settlement which
provide an unusual and significant association.

Source: Historic England

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