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Chiselbury Camp hillfort, cross dykes and site of turnpike toll house

A Scheduled Monument in Fovant, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 51.0523 / 51°3'8"N

Longitude: -1.9754 / 1°58'31"W

OS Eastings: 401816.950031

OS Northings: 128102.418218

OS Grid: SU018281

Mapcode National: GBR 2YJ.Z8R

Mapcode Global: FRA 66RB.N6Q

Entry Name: Chiselbury Camp hillfort, cross dykes and site of turnpike toll house

Scheduled Date: 19 August 1924

Last Amended: 11 February 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020262

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33966

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Fovant

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: Fovant St George

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument includes a large univallate hillfort known as Chiselbury Camp,
two cross dykes and the earthwork remains of an adjacent toll house which are
situated astride a prominent chalk ridge overlooking the Nadder valley to the
north and the Ebble valley to the south.
The hillfort is sub-circular in plan, encloses an area of approximately 3.4ha
and is defined by an earthen rampart up to 3.6m in height and an external
ditch which is a maximum of 1.6m in depth. A gap in the south eastern side of
the rampart and a corresponding causeway across the ditch may represent the
original entrance and are associated with a small `D'-shaped embanked
enclosure which was clearly visible on aerial photographs taken in the 1920s.
Although the enclosure has subsequently been degraded by ploughing it is still
apparent as a series of low earthworks.
Limited archaeological investigation of the interior of the hillfort in the
early 20th century failed to find any traces of occupation, although Iron Age
pottery and a lead spindle whorl were found immediately outside it and two
Roman coins, one of which dated to the reign of Emperor Constantine I, were
said to have been found within the central area. An Iron Age sword and
scabbard were also found on the nearby trackway which runs along the ridge
The hillfort was abutted on both its northern and southern sides by embanked
ditches or cross dykes. Their precise function is unknown but the manner in
which they cut the ridge suggests that they were intended to prevent movement
along it. The northern cross dyke, 90m in length, ran from the ditch of the
hillfort across the top of the ridge before continuing part way down its
northern slopes. Although visible in 1928, the section between the hillfort
and the edge of the ridge has subsequently been infilled by ploughing but
survives as a buried feature. The southern cross dyke, which survives as a
discontinuous series of banks and ditches, sections of which are filled in but
survive as buried features, was a total of 180m in length and ran SSE from the
`D'-shaped enclosure down the southern slope of the ridge into the base of a
An aerial photograph dated to 1928 clearly shows the southern cross dyke
continuing as a buried feature beneath a trackway which runs along the ridge
top, indicating that the trackway came into use after the cross dyke was
constructed. An Anglo-Saxon charter also mentions `the ridgeway' suggesting
that the trackway was in use by at least the early medieval period. Referred
to as the `Ten Mile Course' by Dr Stukeley in 1776, in the medieval and post-
medieval periods the trackway was the main route from Wilton to Shaftesbury.
By the 18th century it had become a turnpike road and a map dated to 1773
depicts a toll house immediately south of it. The remains of this structure
are visible today as a series of earthworks representing a building platform
with a small enclosure immediately to its east.
All fences, gates, signboards and stiles 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

Large univallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying
shape, ranging in size between 1ha and 10ha, located on hilltops and
surrounded by a single boundary comprising earthworks of massive proportions.
They date to the Iron Age period, most having been constructed and used
between the fourth century BC and the first century AD, although evidence for
earlier use is present at most sites. The size of the earthworks reflects the
ability of certain social groups to mobilise the labour necessary for works on
such a monumental scale, and their function may have had as much to do with
display as defence. Large univallate hillforts are also seen as centres of
redistribution, both for subsistence products and items produced by craftsmen.
The ramparts are of massive proportions except in locations where steepness of
slope precludes easy access. They can vary between 6m and 20m wide and may
survive to a height of 6m. The ditches can measure between 6m and 13m wide and
between 3m and 5m deep. Access to the interior is generally provided by one or
two entrances which often take the form of long passages formed by inturned
ramparts and originally closed by a gate located towards the inner end of the
passageway. The entrance may be flanked by guardrooms and/or accompanied by
outworks. Internal features included timber or stone round houses; large
storage pits and hearths; scattered postholes, stakeholes and gullies; and
square or rectangular buildings supported by four to six posts, often
represented by postholes, and interpreted as raised granaries. Large
univallate hillforts are rare with between 50 and 100 examples recorded
nationally. Most are located within southern England where they occur on the
chalklands of Wessex, Sussex and Kent. The western edge of the distribution is
marked by scattered examples in north Somerset and east Devon, while further
examples occur in central and western England and outliers further north.
Within this distribution considerable regional variation is apparent, both in
their size, rampart structure and the presence or absence of individual
components. In view of the rarity of large univallate hillforts and their
importance in understanding the organisation and regional structure of Iron
Age society, all examples with surviving archaeological remains are believed
to be of national importance.

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 reused
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
later prehistoric period. Few have survived to the present day and hence all
well-preserved examples are considered to be of national importance.

Turnpikes, roads kept up by contributions or tolls collected from users, began
in 1663 and by 1800 there were some 1100 turnpike trusts controlling 23,000
miles of roads. However, during the 19th century turnpikes were eclipsed by
canals and railways as the principal arterial routes, and the last trust was
dissolved in 1895. Toll houses were constructed at points adjacent to the road
which enjoyed good views in either direction, enabling the tollkeeper to see
traffic coming and open the gate adjoining the house, for which a fee was
charged. In 1840 there were about 8000 toll houses in England, with many
subsequently being adapted or reused as dwellings or commercial properties or
their sites obscured by later development. The earthwork remains of the toll
house adjacent to Chiselbury Camp, which appear to have remained undisturbed
since their abandonment, therefore represent an unusually rare and complete
The hillfort, cross dykes and the remains of the site of the toll house all
survive well as either substantial earthworks or buried features. The old land
surface beneath the hillfort ramparts and the fills of both the hillfort ditch
and the cross dykes will preserve environmental deposits relating to the
landscape in which the monument was constructed and used.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Colt Hoare, R, The Ancient History of Wiltshire: Volume I, (1812), 217,249
Sumner, H, The Ancient Earthworks of Cranborne Chase, (1913), 25
Fowler, P J, 'Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine' in Cross-Dykes of the Ebble-Nadder Ridge, (1964), 46-57
Fowler, P J, 'Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine' in Cross-Dykes of the Ebble-Nadder Ridge, (1964), 46-57
Crawford, O G S and Keiller, A, Wessex from the Air, (1928)
Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, SU 02 NW 2,
Title: Andrews and Dury's Map of Wiltshire
Source Date: 1773

Wiltshire County Council, SU 02 NW 202,
Wiltshire County Council, SU 02 NW 621,
Wiltshire County Council, SU 02 NW 636,

Source: Historic England

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