Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Cross dyke 720m west of Cheesefoot Head

A Scheduled Monument in Chilcomb, Hampshire

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Latitude: 51.0477 / 51°2'51"N

Longitude: -1.2536 / 1°15'12"W

OS Eastings: 452419.149647

OS Northings: 127861.4452

OS Grid: SU524278

Mapcode National: GBR 97N.7WP

Mapcode Global: FRA 868B.TPP

Entry Name: Cross dyke 720m west of Cheesefoot Head

Scheduled Date: 11 December 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020320

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34143

County: Hampshire

Civil Parish: Chilcomb

Traditional County: Hampshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hampshire

Church of England Parish: Morestead

Church of England Diocese: Winchester


The monument includes a 170m length of a cross dyke of probable Middle to Late
Bronze Age date (1500-700 BC) situated on a high chalk ridge between
Telegraph Hill and Cheesefoot Head, overlooking St Catherine's Hill, the city
of Winchester and the Itchen Navigation to the west.
The cross dyke is located at a natural constriction in the ridge between two
steep-sided hollows, immediately east of which the broad chalk spur of Fawley
Down projects to the south. The northern part of the ridge has been heavily
ploughed and the monument survives only to the south of the South Downs Way.
Here it forms a substantial, north-south earthen bank, 6m-8m wide and 1m-1.5m
high, flanked to the east by a ditch, 5m-6m wide and up to 1m deep. In this
form it extends south for 30m onto Fawley Down where it continues for a
further 60m to the SSW along the western brow of the down. The monument then
doglegs sharply to the west, possibly skirting an earlier field system, before
continuing in a reduced form for a further 80m along the flank of the spur.
Both the bank and ditch become relatively slight until they are replaced by a
slightly hollowed terrace, 5m wide, which ends abruptly at a squared-off
At its northern end the monument would have effectively restricted access
along the main ridge and onto Fawley Down. Beyond the dogleg to the south,
the monument may have doubled as a field boundary associated with cropmark
evidence of contemporary field systems on the surrounding downs.
The fences and fence posts located on the monument 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 section of cross dyke 720m west of Cheesefoot Head survives well and can
be expected to retain archaeological deposits associated with the original
construction and use of the cross dyke and the associated field system,
including the original ground surface and environmental remains. Its strategic
obstruction of the South Downs ridgeway, and its close association with aerial
photographic evidence of contemporary field systems on the surrounding
downlands, demonstrates its potential importance for our understanding of how
community boundaries were constructed during the Bronze Age period.

Source: Historic England


Williams-Freeman, J P, The Williams-Freeman mss, unpublished ms at Winchester Museum

Source: Historic England

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