Enclosure S of Pimperne Down


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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

Dorset (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
ST 89088 09744


Part of an enclosed Iron Age farmstead 805m north east of West Pimperne Farm.

Reasons for Designation

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 simplest 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 Most early examples are characterised by a curvilinear enclosure with round buildings, although these are sometimes superseded by rectilinear or triangular shaped enclosures with rectilinear buildings.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.

Although much is already known about the part of an enclosed Iron Age farmstead 805m north east of West Pimperne Farm it will contain further archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, longevity, development, agricultural practices, domestic arrangements and overall landscape context.


See Details.


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 28 January 2016. 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 part of an enclosed Iron Age farmstead situated on the upper south east facing slopes of a chalk ridge on the southern side of Pimperne Down on the northern side of a road. This part of the enclosed farmstead survives as a semi circular enclosure bank containing evidence for internal settlement preserved as entirely buried structures, features and deposits visible as soil marks on aerial photographs. Partial excavations in 1960-63 by IM Blake and DW Harding showed the outer enclosure to have been surrounded by a V-shaped profile ditch with bank. At least three constructional phases were represented in the ditch along with deliberate back fillings which included part of a horse, the skull of an ox and two rectangular chalk lamps whilst to the north a human femur and the right half of a skull were sealed with closely packed flint. To the south a midden deposit also included some human bones. Excavation confirmed the enclosure had southern and eastern entrances the latter having inturned terminals. The interior contained a substantial timber built round house defined by double concentric rings of postholes with a south east facing entrance. Occupation of this house was in two clear phases and it was suggested the house had been completely rebuilt. Within the house was a clay hearth and post holes for domestic equipment such as looms or drying racks. Finds included a bronze finger ring, iron arrowheads, fragments of shale bracelets, and pottery. Radiocarbon dates suggest circa 800 – 400 BC occupation. A reconstruction of the house was built at Butser Ancient Farm. Excavations also revealed the interior of the enclosure had been re-used during the Second World War as the site of a light anti-aircraft battery with entrenchments and mounds preserved as earthworks and including finds notably a ‘well stratified army cape’ relating to this period.

Further archaeological remains survive in the vicinity but are not included in the scheduling because they have not been formally assessed.


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

Legacy System number:
DO 482
Legacy System:


PastScape Monument Nos:-205413 and 1310697


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

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