Settlement on Smacam Down


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1002848

Date first listed: 30-Sep-1960


Ordnance survey map of Settlement on Smacam Down
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 21-Mar-2019 at 21:59:11.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Dorset

District: West Dorset (District Authority)

Parish: Cerne Abbas

National Grid Reference: SY 65712 99377


Part of a multi-period landscape 590m west of Lower Barton Farm.

Reasons for Designation

Long barrows were constructed as earthen or drystone mounds with flanking ditches and acted as funerary monuments during the Early and Middle Neolithic periods (3400-2400 BC). They represent the burial places of Britain's early farming communities and, as such, are amongst the oldest field monuments surviving visibly in the present landscape. Where investigated, long barrows appear to have been used for communal burial, often with only parts of the human remains having been selected for interment. Certain sites provide evidence for several phases of funerary monument preceding the barrow and, consequently, it is probable that long barrows acted as important ritual sites for local communities over a considerable period of time. Some 500 examples of long barrows and long cairns, their counterparts in the uplands, are recorded nationally. They represent one of the few types of Neolithic structure to survive as earthworks are comparative rare and of considerable age and longevity. Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. Often superficially similar, although differing widely in size, they exhibit regional variations in form and a diversity of burial practices. They are a major historic element in the modern landscape and their considerable variation of form and longevity as a monument type provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisations amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period. Iron Age farmsteads are generally represented by curvilinear enclosures containing evidence of a small group of circular domestic buildings and associated agricultural structures. Regular aggregate field systems date from the Bronze Age (2000-700 BC) to the end of the fifth century AD. They usually cover areas of up to 100ha and comprise a discrete block of fields orientated in roughly the same direction, with the field boundaries laid out along two axes set at right angles to one another. Individual fields generally fall within the 0.1ha-3.2ha range and can be square, rectangular, long and narrow, triangular or polygonal in shape. The field boundaries can take various forms (including drystone walls, orthostats, earth and rubble banks, pit alignments, ditches, fences and lynchets) and follow straight or sinuous courses. Component features common to most systems include entrances and trackways, and the settlements or farmsteads from which people utilised the fields over the years have been identified in some cases. These are usually situated close to or within the field system. The development of field systems is seen as a response to the competition for land which began during the later prehistoric period. The majority are thought to have been used mainly for crop production, evidenced by the common occurrence of lynchets resulting from frequent ploughing, although rotation may also have been practised in a mixed farming economy. They represent a coherent economic unit often utilised for long periods of time and can thus provide important information about developments in agricultural practices in a particular location and broader patterns of social, cultural and environmental change over several centuries. The part of a multi period landscape 590m west of Lower Barton Farm survives comparatively well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to territorial significance, ritual, funerary and agricultural practices, the development of the field system, domestic arrangements, interrelationships between different dates and classes of monuments and their overall landscape context.


See Details.


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 26 January 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 part of a multi period landscape situated on the summit of the prominent and steeply sloping ridge of Smacam Down overlooking the dry valley of Higher Hill Bottom and the valley of the River Cerne. The multi period landscape includes a long barrow, a bowl barrow, an enclosed Iron Age farmstead and part of its associated regular aggregate field system which all survive as earthworks. The long barrow survives as a rectangular mound aligned north to south and measuring approximately 30m long, 16m wide and up to 1.7m high with a visible U-shaped ditch at the southern end of up to 4m wide and 0.5m deep. There is an early excavation hollow in the centre of the mound. To the north east is a bowl barrow which survives as a circular mound measuring up to 13m in diameter and 0.9m high surrounded by a largely buried quarry ditch of up to 2.4m wide and 0.1m deep from which the construction material was derived. Between the two barrows is a rectangular enclosure defined by a bank of up to 6m wide and 0.5m high and outer ditch. Centrally positioned within the enclosure is a hut circle with a 7m internal diameter defined by a bank standing up to 4.5m wide and 0.5m high with a south facing entrance. Extending from this enclosure and surrounding both barrows is part of a regular aggregate field system defined by field banks and lynchets. One of the field banks is particularly prominent standing up to 7.5m wide and 1.1m high with an accompanying a ditch of 2m wide and 0.8m deep. This has in the past been identified as a possible cross ridge dyke or the edge of a prominent track.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: DO 454

Legacy System: RSM - OCN


PastScape Monument No:-452847, 452888 and 452865

End of official listing