Ancient Monuments

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Two cross ridge dykes 710m and 790m east of Wellhead Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Westbury, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 51.2452 / 51°14'42"N

Longitude: -2.177 / 2°10'37"W

OS Eastings: 387738.8625

OS Northings: 149569.5461

OS Grid: ST877495

Mapcode National: GBR 1TM.VT1

Mapcode Global: VH979.6YYV

Entry Name: Two cross ridge dykes 710m and 790m east of Wellhead Farm

Scheduled Date: 15 October 1976

Last Amended: 24 November 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020372

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33526

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Westbury

Built-Up Area: Westbury

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: Westbury

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument, which falls into two areas of protection, includes two cross
ridge dykes, situated 710m and 790m east of Wellhead Farm on the eastern edge
of Upton Cow Down, an area of elevated chalk downland forming the western edge
of Salisbury Plain. The earthworks cross a spur of Middle Chalk which
protrudes slightly from the scarp above a small wood known as White Scar
Hanging. From this location there are impressive views over the West Wiltshire
clay vale. The shorter of the two earthworks comprises a bank flanked to the
west by a ditch running approximately NNE-SSW across a narrow section of the
spur. The ditch is 0.9m deep and 5.6m wide and the bank is 0.7m high and 11.9m
wide. The entire length of the earthwork is 40m. To the north east it ends at
a small hollow way running down the scarp to the west while to the south it
ends at the top of the steep south facing scarp.
The larger earthwork crosses a wider section of the spur 70m to the east,
curving slightly to the west but with the same general orientation. It is in
two sections with a break towards the northern end. The southern section which
is 96m long comprises a ditch which is 1.4m deep and up to 8.4m wide flanked
on either side by a bank. The larger bank, to the west is up to 0.8m high and
6.1m wide. The bank to the east is 3m wide and up to 0.3m high, but absent in
places. This section runs across the slope. The northern section runs down the
slope for a length of 40m and terminates at a hollow way to the north. Here
the ditch is 0.3m deep and the bank to the west is 0.2m high.
The earthworks were visited and recorded by the antiquarian, Sir Richard Colt-
Hoare in the early 19th century.

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 two cross ridge dykes 710m and 790m east of Wellhead Farm on the eastern
spur of Upton Cow Down are well-preserved, almost complete examples which
provide an important insight into the division of land in the late prehistoric
period and in particular, the farming activities of prehistoric communities on
the high chalk downland. The earthworks will contain archaeological and
environmental information which relates to the people who built them and the
landscape in which they lived.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Colt Hoare, R, The Ancient History of Wiltshire: Volume I, (1812), 50

Source: Historic England

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