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Iron Age and Romano-British settlement remains on Rotherley Down

A Scheduled Monument in Berwick St. John, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 50.9751 / 50°58'30"N

Longitude: -2.0734 / 2°4'24"W

OS Eastings: 394943.578869

OS Northings: 119518.469899

OS Grid: ST949195

Mapcode National: GBR 2ZC.YCQ

Mapcode Global: FRA 66KJ.L2N

Entry Name: Iron Age and Romano-British settlement remains on Rotherley Down

Scheduled Date: 10 April 1957

Last Amended: 15 July 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020963

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35381

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 includes settlement remains of later Iron Age and
Romano-British date on the brow of a hill at Rotherley Down within
Cranborne Chase. The settlement site, which covers an area of about 2ha,
comprises a series of enclosures and lies within a field system,
approached by a trackway from the south east. Excavations carried out by
General Pitt-Rivers from 1885-86 indicated that occupation continued
without break from the first century BC until the third century AD. At the
centre of the site lies a large circular enclosure, defined by a bank and
a ditch, containing storage pits and four-post granary structures.
Surrounding this are further banks and ditches, defining fields and
enclosures, storage pits, the remains of two or three houses, and several
inhumation burials. During the period of Roman occupation, several
features were added. These include a corn drying oven, working hollows, a
large rectangular building, a variety of pits, a stock enclosure situated
outside the main enclosure and a number of burials likely to belong to
this period. Evidence of earlier occupation of the hilltop includes
Neolithic and Bronze Age stone and flint implements and a Bronze Age
burial which contained a crouched skeleton with a Beaker pot at its feet.
Pitt-Rivers partly reconstructed the earthworks which are visible today.
These reflect the excavated features and an inscribed stone plinth at the
centre of the site was erected by the General to record his discoveries.
This is included in the scheduling.
All fence posts, gate posts and water troughs 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.
Later Iron Age and Romano-British occupation occurred widely across
Cranborne Chase and included a range of settlement types. The surviving
remains comprise farmsteads, hamlets, villages and hillforts, which
together demonstrate an important sequence of settlement. The
non-defensive enclosed farm or homestead represents the smallest and most
simple of these types. There are over 50 recorded examples within the area
which are thought to date to this later Iron Age and Romano-British
period. Most early examples are characterised by a curvilinear enclosure
with round buildings, although these are sometimes superseded by
rectilinear or triangular shaped enclosures with rectilinear buildings. On
Cranborne Chase, many examples were occupied over an extended period and
some grew in size and complexity.

The settlement remains on Rotherley Down survive as a series of
well-preserved earthworks, as excavated and restored by General
Pitt-Rivers. The settlement offers a well-understood sequence with
well-preserved archaeological and environmental remains. These demonstrate
a significant sequence of development throughout the later prehistoric and
Romano-British periods and will contribute to an understanding of the
economic and social activities within the area during the period of

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Pitt-Rivers, LG, Excavations in Cranborne Chase, (1888), 50, 56
Pitt-Rivers, LG, Excavations in Cranborne Chase, (1888), 51-231

Source: Historic England

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