Part of Ackling Dyke (Roman road), including Roman road on Oakley 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)
Gussage All Saints
Dorset (Unitary Authority)
Gussage St. Michael
Dorset (Unitary Authority)
Sixpenny Handley and Pentridge
Dorset (Unitary Authority)
Wimborne St. Giles
National Grid Reference:
ST 99833 12372, SU 00505 13990, SU 00923 14905, SU 01350 15825, SU 01663 16510, SU 02023 17287


Part of the Ackling Dyke Roman road 900m east of Down 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. Roman roads were artificially made-up routes introduced to Britain by the Roman army from c. AD 43. They facilitated both the conquest of the province and its subsequent administration. Their main purpose was to serve the Cursus Publicus, or Imperial mail service. Express messengers could travel up to 150 miles (241km) per day on the network of Roman roads throughout Britain and Europe, changing horses at wayside `mutationes' (posting stations set every 8 miles (12.87km) on major roads) and stopping overnight at `mansiones' (rest houses located every 20-25 miles (32km-40km). In addition, throughout the Roman period and later, Roman roads acted as commercial routes and became foci for settlement and industry. Mausolea were sometimes built flanking roads during the Roman period while, in the Anglian and medieval periods, Roman roads often served as property boundaries. Although a number of roads fell out of use soon after the withdrawal of Rome from the province in the fifth century AD, many have continued in use down to the present day and are consequently sealed beneath modern roads. On the basis of construction technique, two main types of Roman road are distinguishable. The first has widely spaced boundary ditches and a broad elaborate agger comprising several layers of graded materials. The second usually has drainage ditches and a narrow simple agger of two or three successive layers. In addition to ditches and construction pits flanking the sides of the road, features of Roman roads can include central stone ribs, kerbs and culverts, not all of which will necessarily be contemporary with the original construction of the road. With the exception of the extreme south-west of the country, Roman roads are widely distributed throughout England and extend into Wales and lowland Scotland.

They are highly representative of the period of Roman administration and provide important evidence of Roman civil engineering skills as well as the pattern of Roman conquest and settlement. The part of the Ackling Dyke Roman road 900m east of Down Farm survives well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, political, commercial and military significance, interrelationships with surrounding archaeological remains and overall landscape context


See Details.


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 6 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, which falls into six areas, includes part of the Ackling Dyke Roman road which originally ran from Old Sarum (Sorviodunum) to the hillfort of Badbury Rings (Vindocladia) a total distance of approximately 22 miles (35km). This part of the road is situated between the settlements of Gussage All Saints and Gussage St Michael to the south west and ends close to the settlement of Pentridge in the north east and en route it crosses Harley Down, Wyke Down, Bottlebush Down, Handley Down and Oakley Down. The Roman road survives differentially as an earthwork through this length of approximately 7450m and is cut by three modern roads. The agger varies between 1.2m up to 2.5m high and is up to 13m wide. In certain areas the western ditch is also well defined. In places it has been cut by later quarrying, or by tracks and this has revealed the interior composed of layers of fine chalk, gravel and earth overlying a spread of flints. The road itself cuts through a number of earlier monuments including barrows, the Dorset Cursus and field systems along its course, which some believe to have been a deliberate act on the part of the builders. As a result, it is closely associated with numerous other scheduled monuments. Other sections of the road are scheduled separately.


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

Legacy System number:
DO 311
Legacy System:


PastScape Monument No:-1047606


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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