Ancient Monuments

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Linear boundary and section of Roman road, 550m south east of Ashmore Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Ashmore, Dorset

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Latitude: 50.9527 / 50°57'9"N

Longitude: -2.1117 / 2°6'42"W

OS Eastings: 392246.502551

OS Northings: 117039.213178

OS Grid: ST922170

Mapcode National: GBR 2ZQ.0YL

Mapcode Global: FRA 66GL.H3G

Entry Name: Linear boundary and section of Roman road, 550m south east of Ashmore Farm

Scheduled Date: 13 July 1961

Last Amended: 23 April 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020728

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33566

County: Dorset

Civil Parish: Ashmore

Traditional County: Dorset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: Ashmore St Nicholas

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument includes a linear boundary extending from south west to north
east for about 700m across a spur and dry valley on Cranborne Chase. The
linear boundary is truncated by the Roman road from Badbury to Bath which
survives as an earthwork, aligned north west by south east.
The boundary earthwork has a ditch visible as a depression 6m wide and up
to 0.5m deep, with a bank 9m wide and up to 0.8m high, on its south
eastern side. It is well-preserved in woodland at the south western and
north eastern ends but has been in part eroded by ploughing in the central
area. It has been truncated by a trackway following the county boundary
between Dorset and Wiltshire at the bottom of a dry valley near the
eastern end of the monument. The Ordnance Survey recorded in 1954 that the
earthwork may have continued for about 100m beyond the edge of the
scheduling to the south west, although in fragmentary and mutilated form;
this area is disturbed by a track and the earthwork is no longer visible
on the ground. Similarly the earthwork may extend beyond the north
eastern end of the scheduling but this cannot be confirmed at present
because of dense vegetation. Neither of these two areas has been included
in the scheduling. Sections of a similar linear boundary earthwork 1.05km
to the south east are thought to be part of the same feature and are the
subject of separate scheduling. In the intervening area the linear
boundary has not been positively identified either on the ground or on
aerial photographs.
Halfway along its length the boundary earthwork has been truncated by the
Roman road which extends for 120m as a visible earthwork to the south
east. It has an agger, 8m wide and 0.6m high, and is flanked by a ditch on
each side of it, visible as depressions in places, 3m wide and 0.3m deep.
Ploughing over the years has exposed the stoney structure of the agger.
Other sections of the road, 300m to the north west and 1.4km to the south
east, are the subect of separate schedulings.
All fence posts 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.

Roman roads were artificially made-up routes introduced to Britain by the
Roman army from AD 43. They facilitated both the conquest of the province
and its subsequent administration. Their main purpose was to serve the
Cursus Publicus, or Imperial mail service. Express messengers could travel
up to 150 miles per day on the network of Roman roads throughout Britain
and Europe, changing horses at wayside `mutationes' (posting stations set
every 8 miles on major roads) and stopping overnight at `mansiones' (rest
houses located every 20-25 miles). In addition, throughtout the Roman
period and later, Roman roads acted as commercial routes and became foci
for settlement and industry. Mausolea were sometimes built flanking roads
during the Roman period while, in the Anglian and medieval periods, Roman
roads often served as property boundaries. Although a number of roads fell
out of use soon after the withdrawal of Rome from the province in the
fifth century AD, many have continued in use down to the present day and
are consequently sealed beneath modern roads.
On the basis of construction technique, two main types of Roman road are
distinguishable. The first has widely spaced boundary ditches and a broad
elaborate agger comprising several layers of graded materials. The second
usually has drainage ditches and a narrow simple agger of two or three
successive layers. In addition to ditches and construction pits flanking
the sides of the road, features of Roman roads can include central stone
ribs, kerbs and culverts, not all of which will necessarily be
contemporary with the original construction of the road. With the
exception of the extreme south west of the country, Roman roads can
include central stone ribs, kerbs and culverts, not all of which will
necessarily be contemporary with the original construction of the road.
With the exception of the extreme south-west of the country, Roman roads
are widely distributed throughout England and extend into Wales and
lowland Scotland. They are highly representative of the period of Roman
administration and provide important evidence of Roman civil engineering
skills as well as the pattern of Roman conquest and settlement. A high
proportion of examples exhibiting good survival are considered to be
worthy of protection.
The linear boundary and the section of Roman road 550m south east of
Ashmore Farm are well-preserved examples of their class. The linear
boundary is one of two sections which may be part of the same boundary
extending over a distance of about 2.2km. It will contain archaeological
deposits providing information relating to later prehistoric land use and
environment. The section of Roman road cutting through the linear boundary
is one of few well-preserved stretches of the road from Badbury to Bath.
It will contain archaeological deposits providing information about Roman
road construction, settlement patterns and the contemporary environment.
The intersection between the boundary and the road provides important
dating evidence.

Source: Historic England

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