Ancient Monuments

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The Lower Short Ditch

A Scheduled Monument in Kerry (Ceri), Powys

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Latitude: 52.4853 / 52°29'7"N

Longitude: -3.146 / 3°8'45"W

OS Eastings: 322277.324856

OS Northings: 288102.204862

OS Grid: SO222881

Mapcode National: GBR B0.JG42

Mapcode Global: VH68D.FS6N

Entry Name: The Lower Short Ditch

Scheduled Date: 19 June 1972

Last Amended: 24 April 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020563

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33871

County: Powys

Community: Kerry (Ceri)

Traditional County: Shropshire


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a linear
boundary or dyke, known as the Lower Short Ditch. It has been linked with
the Upper Short Ditch which lies 3.5km to the west of this boundary, in
Wales, and seems to have been designed to bar access into territory to the
east via an important early trackway known as the Kerry Ridgeway. The
Lower Short Ditch straddles the English/Welsh border. This monument
includes only the English section. The section within Wales is protected
separately. Both dykes have also been linked to Offa's Dyke, the 8th
century Anglo-Saxon defensive earthwork, which is crossed by the Ridgeway
at a point 4.5km to the east of the Lower Short Ditch. If the two Short
Ditches were designed to prevent British (Welsh) incursions into the
territory of the Anglo-Saxons, then the earthwork defenses may pre-date
the construction of Offa's Dyke.

The Ditch includes an earthwork bank, on average 1.4m high and 12m wide at
the base, with a ditch immediately to the west, 5m wide and about 1.2m
deep. On the east side is a smaller ditch, up to 3m wide and 0.3m deep. It
runs for 710m from north to south, linking two steep sided natural
declivities which plunge down off the crest of the Kerry Ridge. At either
end there is a clear terminal to the bank, with the western ditch
continuing down the steep slopes for several metres. This would have
effectively sealed off any traffic from west to east at this point. The
current boundary between England and Wales runs along the course of the
Kerry Ridgeway and has cut the Ditch at the north end, leaving 40m of the
defensive earthwork in Wales.

Within the recent past a metalled roadway has been constructed along the
top of the bank for the northern two thirds of the monument, linking the
track which cuts the Ditch at the south eastern corner of Square
Plantation to the Kerry Ridgeway.

The metalled surfaces of the roadway and the Kerry Ridgeway and the track
which cuts the Ditch at the south eastern corner of the Square Plantation
are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these
features 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 earthwork bank and ditches of the Lower Short Ditch are generally
regarded as dating to the early medieval period, forming a reinforcement
of the defensive function of Offa's Dyke which runs down the border
between England and Wales about 2km to the east. The remains are in good
condition and well-defined even at the terminals where they would be
subject to erosion by livestock and landslip. The Dyke is accessable to
the public and highly visible in open moorland and so will provide a
source for education and recreational enjoyment for the community. The
soils beneath the bank and in the infill of the ditches will preserve
evidence for the landscape at the time of the construction of the
earthworks and their abandonment.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Noble, F, Offa's Dyke, (1983), 79-83

Source: Historic England

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