Ancient Monuments

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Hertfordshire Grim's Ditch: 1350m long section between Kiln Road and Chesham Road

A Scheduled Monument in Tring, Hertfordshire

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Latitude: 51.7744 / 51°46'27"N

Longitude: -0.6488 / 0°38'55"W

OS Eastings: 493320.405843

OS Northings: 209274.625972

OS Grid: SP933092

Mapcode National: GBR F4V.QRR

Mapcode Global: VHFRW.PNVM

Entry Name: Hertfordshire Grim's Ditch: 1350m long section between Kiln Road and Chesham Road

Scheduled Date: 26 November 1928

Last Amended: 24 February 2004

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021204

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35346

County: Hertfordshire

Civil Parish: Tring

Traditional County: Hertfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hertfordshire

Church of England Parish: Tring

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans


The monument includes a 1350m length of a prehistoric boundary known as
the Hertfordshire Grim's Ditch, running west to east from Kiln Road south
of Wick Wood, to Chesham Road, Wigginton Bottom.
This section of the Hertfordshire Grim's Ditch is marked by a substantial
bank and ditch along most of its course eastwards from Kiln Road. For a
distance of nearly one kilometre the bank measures up to 1.4m high and 13m
wide. The accompanying ditch, parallel and to the south, measures some 11m
across and, although partly infilled, averages 0.9m in depth. At Wick
Spring, approximately in the centre of this section, the earthwork has
been disturbed by a large extraction pit of uncertain date which is
included in the scheduling. To the east, over the last 400m length
approaching Chesham Road, the boundary earthwork has been considerably
reduced by cultivation; but its course remains clearly visible to within
95m of the road and is still detectable across this final length.
In 1973 excavations on a nearby section of Grim's Ditch produced evidence
of a level area, or berm, separating the bank and ditch and a trench which
would have supported a fence or palisade along the outer edge of the
ditch. Similar components may also survive as buried features along this
section of the boundary.
Further sections of Grim's Ditch exist to the west, north of High Scrubs
and some 700m to the east, east of Crawleys Lane. These sections and
others along the entire known route of the boundary are the subject of
separate schedulings.
All fences, gates and stiles 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 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 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 boundary known as the Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire Grim's Ditch
includes numerous surviving sections from within three main linear
earthworks aligned along the Chiltern Hills between Bradenham and
Berkhamsted, and spanning a total 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, to the west of the
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 by a bank of upcast earth, which is
always upslope of the ditch. Other features, discovered by limited
excavations include a turf core within the bank, a berm separating bank
and ditch (concealed over time by the spread of bank material) and a
trench for a fence or palisade along the outer rim of the ditch.
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. As such the boundary provides important
evidence for the management of the landscape in the centuries proceding
the Roman Conquest in AD43, although it may have a considerably earlier
origin. 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 photography or ground survey), are considered integral to a
general understanding of the monument and will normally merit statutory
protection. This section of Grim's Ditch between Kiln Road and Chesham
Road survives well as a visible earthwork along most of its length and
provides a fascinating insight into the nature of early 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. This section forms
part of a larger stretch of the Grim's Ditch which extends from Wendover
to Berkhamsted following an arc across the high ground above the Aylesbury
Vale and Bulbourne Valley following a similar course to the modern
Ridgeway path less than one kilometre to the north, which is itself a
reflection of a prehistoric route along the line of the Chiltern Hills.
Prehistoric hillforts are located close by on Boddington Hill, 5km to the
SSW and Cholesbury Hillfort 2km to the south.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Network Archaeology, , Grim's Ditch: Archaeological and Management Survey Phase III, (1999)

Source: Historic England

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