Middle Chase Farm ditch
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1003730
Date first listed: 24-Apr-1956
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
Parish: Bower Chalke
National Grid Reference: SU 00292 20956
Part of a linear boundary 350m north west of Middle Chase 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. Linear boundaries are substantial earthwork features comprising single or multiple ditches and banks which may extend over varying distances of less than 1km to over 10km. They survive as earthworks or as linear features visible as cropmarks on aerial photographs, or as a combination of both. The evidence of excavation and study of associated monuments demonstrate that their construction spans the millennium from the Middle Bronze Age, although they may have been reused later. The scale of many linear boundaries has been taken to indicate that they were constructed by large social groups and were used to mark important boundaries in the landscape, their impressive scale displaying the corporate prestige of their builders. They would have been powerful symbols, often with religious associations, used to define and order the territorial holdings of the groups responsible for their construction. Linear earthworks occur quite widely across parts of Cranborne Chase and together, these are of considerable importance for the analysis of settlement and land use in the Bronze Age. The part of a linear boundary 350m north west of Middle Chase Farm survives well and will contain further archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, function, maintenance, social organisation of the builders, territorial and strategic significance and overall landscape context.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 24 September 2015. 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 linear boundary situated on a south facing slope overlooking a dry valley. The linear boundary survives as a bank measuring up to 260m long, 10m wide and 0.5m high with an accompanying ditch of up to 9m wide and 1m deep aligned roughly NNW to SSE. Partial excavations by Rahtz in 1959 indicated that the boundary work was built in the 1st century AD and appeared to be immediately associated with vast quantities of Iron Age occupation debris including pottery, burnt daub, quern fragments, a stone mortar, a brooch and some iron objects. The pottery indicated the settlement probably continued until the 3rd or 4th centuries. Rahtz concluded the boundary works were defences for a large settlement but other similar extensive boundary works nearby including Grim’s Ditch suggest a very extensive system of prehistoric boundary works were in operation.
Other parts of this boundary system are scheduled separately but other sections are not included because they have not been formally assessed.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: WI 483
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
PastScape 214271; Wiltshire HER SU02SW202
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