Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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A cross-ridge dyke on South Down 500m north east of Chase Barn

A Scheduled Monument in Ebbesborne Wake, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 50.9945 / 50°59'40"N

Longitude: -2.0155 / 2°0'55"W

OS Eastings: 399009.702207

OS Northings: 121677.463917

OS Grid: ST990216

Mapcode National: GBR 2Z8.F8R

Mapcode Global: FRA 66NH.4MF

Entry Name: A cross-ridge dyke on South Down 500m north east of Chase Barn

Scheduled Date: 30 June 1960

Last Amended: 15 July 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020958

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35387

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Ebbesborne Wake

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: Ebbesbourne Wake with Fifield Bavant and Alvediston St John the Baptist

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument includes the visible remains of a cross-ridge dyke on South
Down, 500m north east of Chase Barn. Originally extending north east-south
west across the top of the broad ridge. The southern part of the dyke has
now been largely levelled by ploughing and, as it is no longer visible,
has not been included in the scheduling. The earthwork was noted by Aubrey
in about 1697 and noted on Colt Hoare's map of the area published in 1812.
Heywood Sumner made a plan of it in 1911 and even at this time the
southern section was recorded only as a vague and intermittent ditch.
The section of the cross dyke included in the scheduling extends for about
184m from the northern edge of the ridge, with a ditch 4m wide between two
banks. The western bank is 5m wide, up to 0.5m high externally and 1.5m
above the base of the ditch, while the eastern bank is 3.5m wide and up to
0.4m high externally and 0.75m above the base of the ditch. The earthworks
are truncated in two places: by the Ox Drove running east-west along the
top of the ridge, and further north, by an old trackway.
All fence and gate posts, and the surface of the track 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 section of the cross-ridge dyke on South Down 500m north east of Chase
Barn, although surviving only partially, is one of several identified on
this ridgeway providing an unusual clustering. It is a well-preserved
example of its class and contains archaeological deposits which will
contribute to an understanding of agricultural and social activities and
the contemporary environment in the later prehistoric period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Colt Hoare, R, The Ancient History of Wiltshire: Volume I, (1812), 236-7
Sumner, H, The Ancient Earthworks of Cranborne Chase, (1913), 64-65

Source: Historic England

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