Ancient Monuments

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Cross ridge dyke on Charlton Down, 1250m and 1350m south west of Higher Berry Court Cottages

A Scheduled Monument in Donhead St. Mary, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 50.9816 / 50°58'53"N

Longitude: -2.1177 / 2°7'3"W

OS Eastings: 391831.739756

OS Northings: 120251.604276

OS Grid: ST918202

Mapcode National: GBR 1XZ.CF4

Mapcode Global: FRA 66GJ.0SZ

Entry Name: Cross ridge dyke on Charlton Down, 1250m and 1350m south west of Higher Berry Court Cottages

Scheduled Date: 15 July 1955

Last Amended: 24 July 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020632

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33573

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Donhead St. Mary

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: Donhead St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument, which falls into two separate areas of protection, includes
a cross ridge dyke on Charlton Down 1250m and 1350m south west of Higher
Berry Court Cottages, running north west-south east across a slight dip on
a narrow ridge between the heads of two deep coombes. It is one of three
similar monuments in close proximity which together definine an area of
the ridge. One of the other two cross ridge dykes forms the subject of a
separate scheduling, and all three lie within the remnants of a
prehistoric field system. The cross ridge dyke extends for about 365m,
and includes a steep-sided ditch, 6.5m wide and up to 2.5m deep flanked by
a bank on either side. The bank on the south western side is 8m wide and
up to 1.4m high and that on the north western side is 5m wide and up to 1m
high. The earthwork is more substantial on the top of the ridge, becoming
slighter at each end, where the ditch extends for a short distance beyond
the the banks. The cross dyke is truncated in two places. On the crest of
the ridge, a 40m gap is now occupied by a modern tarmac road and a track,
but previously the ox droves which ran along the ridgeway and the Roman
road from Hamworthy to Bath passed through here.
Further south, the banks have been levelled, creating a 15m gap through
which a track passes. The buried ditch will survive in this area however.
A rectangular depression, 6m by 4m, in the middle of the south western
bank near the southern end of the earthwork may indicate a former
excavation. The northern part of the cross ridge dyke lies within a
prehistoric field system which has been disturbed and is not clearly
defined, although two lynchets, about 45m apart, running north east-south
west are visible joining the south western bank. The field system itself
is not included in the scheduling, although parts of the two lynchets are
included where they join the western side of the cross ridge dyke.
All fence posts 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

Cranborne Chase is an area of chalkland well known for its high number,
density and diversity of archaeological remains. These include a rare
combination of Neolithic and Early Bronze Age sites, comprising one of the
largest concentrations of burial monuments in England, the largest known
cursus (a linear ritual monument) and a significant number and range of
henge monuments (Late Neolithic ceremonial centres). Other important
remains include a variety of enclosures, settlements, field systems and
linear boundaries which date throughout prehistory and into the
Romano-British and medieval periods. This high level of survival of
archaeological remains is due largely to the later history of the Chase.
Cranborne Chase formed a Royal Hunting Ground from at least Norman times,
and much of the archaeological survival within the area resulted from
associated laws controlling land-use which applied until 1830. The unique
archaeological character of the Chase has attracted much attention over
the years, notably during the later 19th century, by the pioneering work
on the Chase of General Pitt-Rivers, Sir Richard Colt Hoare and Edward
Cunnington, often regarded as the fathers of British archaeology.
Archaeological investigations have continued throughout the 20th century
and to the present day.
Cross ridge dykes are substantial linear earthworks typically between
0.2km long and 1km long 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 a combination 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
ridge dykes occur across Cranborne Chase and 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 examples have survived to the present
day nationally and all well-preserved examples are considered to be of
national importance. The number of well-preserved examples within
Cranborne Chase is particularly notable.

The cross ridge dyke on Charlton Down 1250m and 1350m south west of Higher
Berry Court Cottages is one of several similar monuments surviving in the
vicinity, providing an unusual association. Despite relatively recent
disturbance, it represents a well-preserved example of its class and will
preserve archaeological remains providing information about later
prehistoric land use and environment.

Source: Historic England

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