Length of deer park bank and ditch at Alderholt
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1002394
Date first listed: 20-Aug-1976
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This copy shows the entry on 21-Mar-2019 at 22:33:37.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: East Dorset (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: SU 11425 12783
Length of deer park bank and ditch at Alderholt.
Reasons for Designation
Deer parks were areas of land, usually enclosed, set aside and equipped for the management and hunting of deer and other animals. They were generally located in open countryside on marginal land or adjacent to a manor house, castle or palace. They varied in size between 3ha and 1600ha and usually comprised a combination of woodland and grassland which provided a mixture of cover and grazing for deer. Parks could contain a number of features, including hunting lodges (often moated), a park-keeper's house, rabbit warrens, fishponds and enclosures for game, and were usually surrounded by a park pale, a massive fenced or hedged bank often with an internal ditch. Although a small number of parks may have been established in the Anglo-Saxon period, it was the Norman aristocracy's taste for hunting that led to the majority being constructed. The peak period for the laying-out of parks, between AD 1200 and 1350, coincided with a time of considerable prosperity amongst the nobility. From the 15th century onwards few parks were constructed and by the end of the 17th century the deer park in its original form had largely disappeared. The original number of deer parks nationally is unknown. Despite incorporation into later field boundaries the length of deer park bank and ditch at Alderholt survives comparatively well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, maintenance, longevity, social, economic and political significance, adaptive re-use and overall landscape context.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 18 February 2016. This 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.
This monument includes the southern boundary pale of a Royal deer park situated on a gentle east facing slope of Birch Hill on the southern side of Alderholt Park. The bank survives differentially throughout its length but stands up to 6.4m wide and 1.2m high with a ditch to the north (i.e. internally to the deer park) of up to 0.6m deep. This is the best preserved boundary of a deer park first documented in 1315 when it was held by the Earl of Gloucester and Hertford from the king. Some sources claim it was disparked during the reign of Henry VIII although documents exist to say it was still a park but had no deer in 1583.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: DO 812
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
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