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Park pale in Rampisham park

A Scheduled Monument in Rampisham, Dorset

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Latitude: 50.8144 / 50°48'51"N

Longitude: -2.6411 / 2°38'28"W

OS Eastings: 354925.9755

OS Northings: 101842.5781

OS Grid: ST549018

Mapcode National: GBR MN.Y4NX

Mapcode Global: FRA 56CY.6VR

Entry Name: Park pale in Rampisham park

Scheduled Date: 20 February 1975

Last Amended: 11 February 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020184

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33552

County: Dorset

Civil Parish: Rampisham

Traditional County: Dorset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: Rampisham St Michael and All Angels

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument, which falls into three separate areas of protection, includes
three surviving stretches of the park pale or boundary bank and ditch of the
medieval deer park at Rampishanm. The deer park enclosed an area of about
101ha and occupies the northern slopes of a chalk ridge and two valleys.
The earliest documentary reference to the deer park dates to 1299 when it
was in private ownership, although by 1437 it had passed to the Crown. Various
documentary references dating to 1317, 1319, 1485 and 1486 relate to the deer
park. The last known documentary reference to it dates to 1530. A list of
Dorset parks compiled in 1583 does not mention the site and it is thought to
have been `disparked' prior to this time. A documentary review and ground
survey of the deer park was conducted by Cantor and Wilson prior to 1963.
The park pale now survives as a discontinuous earthwork. This includes a
bank up to 1.3m high and 6m wide with an internal ditch 2m wide and 0.5m deep
along the western and north eastern sides of the deer park. To the south west
the boundary is marked by a scarp 1.2m high, with slight traces of an internal
ditch. Its course is further reflected in the pattern of later features such
as field boundaries and the course of the boundary bank which divides the
parishes of Rampisham and Wraxall. The park pale does not survive as an
upstanding feature within the south west, north west and mid-eastern areas of
the deer park. To the north west, the boundary is likely to have run along the
course of a stream; a slight bank recorded here in 1963 is no longer visible.
A possible enclosure was suggested by Cantor and Wilson within the area to
the east of the deer park. This was identified largely from the pattern of
field boundaries, but does not survive as an earthwork. The character and date
of this possible enclosure are uncertain and its relationship with the deer
park unproven; it is not, therefore included within the scheduling.
Within the eastern area of the park, a group of earthworks were identified
in 1963 which could have represented settlement remains, or activity relating
to deer husbandry, although these have since been reduced and are not included
within the scheduling.
Excluded from the scheduling are all gates and fence posts relating to the
modern field boundaries, all cattle troughs and the collection chambers which
serve the land drains, 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 park pale in Rampisham Park survives as a well-preserved earthwork around
parts of the original circuit and will contain archaeological and
environmental information relating to the monument and the landscape in
which it was constructed.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Cantor, L M, Wilson, J M, 'Proceedings of the Dorset Nat Hist and Archaeology Soc' in Medieval Deer Parks of Dorset lll, , Vol. 85, (1963), 148-151

Source: Historic England

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