Ancient Monuments

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The Carrion Tree Rack:a linear boundary in Rushmore Park, south west, south and north east of Park Cottage

A Scheduled Monument in Berwick St. John, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 50.9719 / 50°58'18"N

Longitude: -2.058 / 2°3'28"W

OS Eastings: 396021.1502

OS Northings: 119170.3694

OS Grid: ST960191

Mapcode National: GBR 2ZD.VYL

Mapcode Global: FRA 66LJ.S21

Entry Name: The Carrion Tree Rack:a linear boundary in Rushmore Park, south west, south and north east of Park Cottage

Scheduled Date: 10 April 1957

Last Amended: 23 April 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020727

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33565

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Berwick St. John

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: Berwick St John St John

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument, which falls into three separate areas of protection,
includes three sections of a linear boundary known as the Carrion Tree
Rack. The monument lies to the south west, south and north east of Park
Cottage on Cranborne Chase and extends from the Cuttice Bottom in the
west, up a steep slope, and diagonally across the level top of the ridge.
At its eastern end, the earthwork turns a right angle to the north along
the contour above the break in slope.
Between 1882 and 1884 Pitt-Rivers excavated three sections through the
earthwork, immediately to the south of Park Cottage and at the eastern end
in Shiftway Coppice. His plan of the eastern end shows a gap of about 10m,
with a further length (30m) of bank and ditch beyond this which is now
covered in dense vegetation and is no longer clearly visible. The linear
boundary has a ditch 3m wide and up to 0.5m deep, with a bank, 6m wide and
0.5m high, on its southern or eastern side. On the steep slope at the
western end there are two banks flanking the ditch, both 6m wide and 0.5m
high. The 19th century excavation produced sherds of Romano-British
pottery in the primary ditch fill and beneath the bank.
To the east of Park Cottage, in an area just beyond the end of the visible
earthworks, three pits were found on the line of the bank and ditch
suggesting that the linear boundary may have been aligned on existing
features. There was no evidence found for the ditch continuing, which
could suggest that the earthwork was originally discontinuous. The pits
were found to be Iron Age storage pits and one contained an inhumation
burial. Both Pitt-Rivers and Grinsell, writing in the Victoria County
History in 1957, thought that the linear earthwork was at least partly
defensive, but its general location suggests that it may be part of a
trackway and an extensive boundary ditch. There are low, poorly-defined
earthworks on the northern side of the central section of the ditch which
may be part of a field system or settlement site; their relationship to
the linear feature is not clear and, as their date and character cannot be
determined on present evidence, they are not included in the scheduling.
All fence posts and track surfaces 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

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.
Linear boundaries are substantial earthwork features comprising single or
multiple ditches and banks which may extend over distances varying between
less than 1km to over 10km. They survive as earthworks or as linear
features visible as cropmarks on aerial photographs, or as a combination
of both. The evidence of excavation and study of associated monuments
demonstrate that their construction spans the millennium from the Middle
Bronze Age, although they may have been reused later. The scale of many
linear boundaries has been taken to indicate that they were constructed by
large social groups and were used to mark important boundaries in the
landscape, their impressive scale displaying the corporate prestige of
their builders. They would have been powerful symbols, often with
religious associations, used to define and order the territorial holdings
of the groups responsible for their construction. Linear earthworks occur
quite widely across parts of Cranborne Chase and together, these are of
considerable importance for the analysis of settlement and land use in the
Bronze Age. All well-preserved examples are, therefore, considered to be
of national importance and will merit statutory protection.

The linear boundary known as Carrion Tree Rack, in Rushmore Park, south
west, south and north east of Park Cottage lies within Cranborne Chase and
is a well-preserved example of its class. It is known to contain
archaeological deposits providing information relating to later
prehistoric and Romano-British land use and environment.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Fox Pitt Rivers, A H L, Excavations in Cranborne Chase, (1887), 25
Grinsell, L V, The Victoria History of the County of Wiltshire, (1957), 39-40

Source: Historic England

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