Ancient Monuments

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Buckinghamshire Grim's Ditch: 176m long section south west of White House Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Lacey Green, Buckinghamshire

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Latitude: 51.6963 / 51°41'46"N

Longitude: -0.8062 / 0°48'22"W

OS Eastings: 482603.275411

OS Northings: 200400.060586

OS Grid: SP826004

Mapcode National: GBR D49.M04

Mapcode Global: VHDVQ.ZM4H

Entry Name: Buckinghamshire Grim's Ditch: 176m long section south west of White House Farm

Scheduled Date: 18 August 1936

Last Amended: 9 September 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020885

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35333

County: Buckinghamshire

Civil Parish: Lacey Green

Built-Up Area: Lacey Green

Traditional County: Buckinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Buckinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Lacey Green

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The monument includes a 176m long section of a prehistoric boundary known as
the Buckinghamshire Grim's Ditch running broadly south west to north east,
situated to the south and east of Kiln Lane.
This section of the Grim's Ditch, to the south east of White House Farm,
survives as a clearly visible bank and ditch along the majority of its length.
The earthern bank measures up to 9m in width and stands up to 0.8m high in
some places. To the east of the bank lies a parallel ditch, approximately 8m
wide and up to 0.7m in depth. Excavations along other sections of Grim's
Ditch, carried out in 1973 and 1991, produced evidence of a level area, on a
berm, separating the bank and ditch. Evidence for a palisade trench, which
would have supported a wooden fence was also found along the outer edge of
the ditch. These components may also survive as buried features along this
section of Grim's Ditch.
All fences, gates, telegraph poles, sheds and modern surfaces 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

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 re-used 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 those
groups who constructed them. Linear earthworks are of considerable importance
for the analysis of settlement and land use in the Bronze Age; all well
preserved examples will normally merit statutory protection.

The feature known as the Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire Grim's Ditch
includes a series of three prehistoric linear earthworks aligned along the
scarp face of the Chiltern Hills between Bradenham and Berkhamstead, together
spanning a distance of some 18km. It does not appear that these principal
sections were ever joined to form a continuous boundary. Current evidence
suggests that the sometimes quite sizeable gaps represent areas which were
formerly forested or in which natural features served to perpetuate a division
of the land. The same pattern has been discerned along the North Oxfordshire
Grim's Ditch, a separate monument to the west of the River Thames. A further
comparable linear boundary, the Moel Ditch, extends to the east across parts
of neighbouring Bedfordshire.
For the most part the visible sections of Grim's Ditch in the Chilterns
include a wide single ditch flanked on the south side by a bank of upcast
earth overlying a turf core. Excavations carried out in 1973 and 1991 in the
parishes of Tring and Northchurch in Hertfordshire identified a berm between
the bank and ditch, over which the bank later spread. In one excavation a
narrow trench, possibly dug to support a fence or palisade, was discovered
along the edge of the ditch furthest from the bank.
The Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire Grim's Ditch is thought to have served
as a territorial boundary separating, and perhaps enclosing, organised parcels
of land and settlement. It may also have been used as an agricultural
boundary, denoting grazing areas and impeding the movement (or theft) of
stock. Excavations to date have provided only limited dating evidence. Pottery
recovered from the fill of the ditch indicates that it was in existence
in the Iron Age, although it may have had a considerably earlier origin. As
such the boundary provides important evidence for the management of the
landscape in the centuries preceding the Roman Conquest in AD 43. It remained
a notable feature in later centuries, acquiring its present name (a variation
on the name of the god, Odin) at some point in the early medieval period,
perhaps during the period of pagan Saxon settlement in the 5th and 6th
centuries. The earliest recorded use of the term `Grim's Ditch' occurs in a
charter granted by Edward, Earl of Cornwall in 1291.
All sections of the Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire Grim's Ditch which
survive in visible form or as well-preserved buried remains (identified by
aerial photographs or ground survey) are considered integral to a general
understanding of the monument and will normally merit statutory protection.
The 176m section of Grim's Ditch south west of White House Farm survives
well as a visible earthwork along most of its length and provides a valuable
insight into the nature of territorial land division in the Chiltern Hills.
It will contain archaeological evidence for the manner of its construction as
well as environmental evidence for the appearance of the landscape in which
it was built. The archaeological evidence may also include either artefacts
or scientific dating material from which to determine the period of its
construction and the duration of its maintenance as an active boundary.

Source: Historic England


Network Archaeology Ltd, Highwood, Kiln Lane, Lacey Green, Bucks: Arch. Watching Brief, 1999, Report 218
SP829002, Bucks SMR, CAS 4398,
Title: Plan of estate belonging to RH Lord George Henry Cavendish
Source Date: 1818
copy in ownership of Mrs West
Title: Princes Risborough Inclosure Map
Source Date: 1823
BRO: IR/87/Q

Source: Historic England

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