Alresford Drive earthworks, Avington
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1001910
Date first listed: 18-Mar-1949
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This copy shows the entry on 12-Dec-2018 at 12:48:48.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Winchester (District Authority)
Parish: Itchen Valley
National Park: SOUTH DOWNS
National Grid Reference: SU 52323 31417, SU 52358 31835, SU 52696 30869, SU 53002 30432
Linear earthworks at Avington, 1.4km ENE of Harfield Farm
Reasons for Designation
The linear earthworks at Avington are considered to be the remains of a medieval boundary work, although this may have utilised an earlier earthwork. Medieval earthworks comprising single or multiple banks and ditches were often constructed to enclose woods and parks, or to mark boundaries not otherwise defined by local topographical features. Deer parks were areas of land, usually enclosed, set aside and equipped for the management and hunting of deer and other animals in the early medieval or medieval period. They were generally located in open countryside on marginal land or adjacent to a manor house, castle or palace. They usually comprised a combination of woodland and grassland which provided a mixture of cover and grazing for deer. Medieval parks were usually surrounded by a park pale, a massive fenced or hedged bank often with an internal ditch.
Medieval boundary earthworks which survive as upstanding features and which have documented associations with particular settlements or land holders, such as monasteries, preserve valuable information relating to the history of land use. Despite some damage by cultivation, tree planting and a First World War camp, the linear earthworks at Avington survive well and form a visible feature in the landscape. The earthworks will contain archaeological and environmental information relating to their construction and use as well as the landscape in which they were built.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 18 June 2014. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.
The monument includes linear earthworks in four separate areas of protection situated on western slopes of a valley south of the River Itchen near Avington. The earthworks are visible as a bank, approximately 1.2m high and between 9m and 12m wide. A ditch has been observed in one location, at the copse on Harley Hill, on the outer side of the bank and will survive as a buried feature. The earthworks are no longer a single linear course, if they previously existed as such, but now survive in several separate lengths. The three southernmost scheduled lengths are orientated NNW to SSE but that to the north on Beech Hill is orientated NNE to SSW.
The origins of the earthworks are uncertain and have been the subject of speculation. However it is considered most likely to represent remains of a medieval boundary work. Land at Avington, afterwards known as St Swithin's Priory, was given in AD 961 to the monasteries of St Peter and St Paul at Winchester. The Prior of St Swithin’s was granted a licence to empark Hampage Wood in AD 1306. The bank most probably represents this 14th century boundary, although it may have followed an earlier earthwork which included a ditch.
There are further earthworks to the north-east, which are likely to be associated with the monument. However these are not included because they have not been formally assessed. One of these unscheduled lengths was partially excavated in 1989 revealing a ditch 6m wide at the top and 1.4m deep with a flat bottom. Molluscan analysis of the lower silt layer indicated a date ‘in or after’ the late Roman or early Saxon period. The upper fill of the ditch was medieval.
The monument is partly within the bounds of a Grade II* Registered park known as Avington Park.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: HA 169
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
Hampshire HER: 18039,
OS Maps (1:2500): 1893, 1896, 1909,
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing