Ancient Monuments

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Harbin's Park, a medieval deer park pale

A Scheduled Monument in Tarrant Gunville, Dorset

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Latitude: 50.9165 / 50°54'59"N

Longitude: -2.1424 / 2°8'32"W

OS Eastings: 390086.441505

OS Northings: 113009.744033

OS Grid: ST900130

Mapcode National: GBR 1YQ.K4T

Mapcode Global: FRA 66DP.95W

Entry Name: Harbin's Park, a medieval deer park pale

Scheduled Date: 10 March 1975

Last Amended: 11 December 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020029

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33557

County: Dorset

Civil Parish: Tarrant Gunville

Traditional County: Dorset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: Tarrant Gunville St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument includes the bank and ditch which defines part of the boundary of
a medieval deer park, known as Harbin's Park, on the southern edge of
Cranborne Chase, west of Harbin's Park Farm. The deer park was known as
Tarrant Gunville Park until about the 19th century, when the name was changed
to include the name of the owner at the time. The earliest documentary
reference to the park dates to 1279 and the latest occurs in 1398. However in
1649, a dispute between Harbin and Pitt, lord of Cranborne Chase and owner of
the adjacent estate, concerning deer from the chase, might suggest that the
deer park continued in use into the 17th century. The park, lying on the
eastern slope of a dry valley, encloses a rectangular area of about 55ha.
It has probably altered little in appearance since the medieval period, lying
in old woodland with several clearings referred to as `laundes' in medieval
documents. The bank and ditch are generally well-preserved except on the
northern side where the earthworks have been levelled by ploughing. A short
section of the ditch at the north west corner is visible as a vegetation mark
in an arable field. Early Ordnance Survey maps show the north eastern corner
of the deer park as an earthwork with two sharply angled corners, but this is
no longer visible on the ground. The ditch may survive as a buried feature but
as the exact location cannot be verified on the ground this section of the
boundary has not been included in the scheduling.
The bank, which is 5m wide, is steep in profile, up to 0.8m high externally
and up to 2m above the silted inner ditch which measures up to 5m wide. A 15m
gap in the bank and the ditch at the south western corner may be the original
entrance while several other truncations through the earthworks have been
created in the past to provide access to the interior.
The deer park may overlie an earlier field system, parts of which survive as
earthwork banks in the interior. However, their extent and nature are poorly
understood and on present evidence they have not been included in the
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

Deer parks were areas of land, usually enclosed, set aside and equipped for
the management and hunting of deer and other animals. They were generally
located in open countryside on marginal land or adjacent to a manor house,
castle or palace. They varied in size between 3ha and 1600ha and usually
comprised a combination of woodland and grassland which provided a mixture of
cover and grazing for deer. Parks could contain a number of features,
including hunting lodges (often moated), a park-keeper's house, rabbit
warrens, fishponds and enclosures for game, and were usually surrounded by a
park pale, a massive fenced or hedged bank often with an internal ditch.
Although a small number of parks may have been established in the Anglo-Saxon
period, it was the Norman aristocracy's taste for hunting that led to the
majority being constructed. The peak period for the laying-out of parks,
between AD 1200 and 1350, coincided with a time of considerable prosperity
amongst the nobility. From the 15th century onwards few parks were constructed
and by the end of the 17th century the deer park in its original form had
largely disappeared. The original number of deer parks nationally is unknown
but probably exceeded 3000. Many of these survive today, although often
altered to a greater or lesser degree. They were established in virtually
every county in England, but are most numerous in the West Midlands and Home
Counties. Deer parks were a long-lived and widespread monument type. Today
they serve to illustrate an important aspect of the activities of medieval
nobility and still exert a powerful influence on the pattern of the modern
landscape. Where a deer park survives well and is well-documented or
associated with other significant remains, its principal features are normally
identified as nationally important.

The deer park known as Harbin's Park lies within Cranborne Chase, an area of
chalkland well known for its high number, density and diversity of
archaeological remains. These include a rare combination of Neolithic and
Early Bronze Age sites, comprising one of the largest concentrations of burial
monuments in England, the largest known cursus (a linear ritual monument) and
a significant number and range of henge monuments (Late Nelolithic ceremonial
centres). Other important remains include a variety of enclosures,
settlements, field systems and linear boundaries which date throughout
prehistory and into the Romano-British and medieval periods. This high level
of survival of archaeological remains is due largely to the later history of
the Chase. Cranborne Chase fromed a Royal Hunting Ground from at least Norman
times, and much of the archaeological survival within the area resulted from
associated laws controlling land-use which applied until 1830. The unique
archaeological character of the Chase has attracted much attention over the
years, notable during the later 19th centruy, by the pioneering work on the
Chase of General Pitt-Rivers, Sir Richard Colt Hoare and Edward Cunnington,
often regarded as the fathers of British archaeology. Archaeological
investigations have continued throughout the 20th century and to the present
Harbin's Park medieval deer park pale is a well-preserved example of its class
surviving as a visible earthwork along most of its boundary. It will contain
archaeological and environmental remains providing information about medieval
deer husbandry,the economy and the contemporary environment.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hawkins, D, Cranborne Chase, (1993), 51
Cantor, L M, Wilson, J D, 'Proceedings of the Dorset Natural Hist and Archaeology Society' in Medieval deer parks of Dorset IV, , Vol. 86, (1964), 170-172

Source: Historic England

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