Great Ditch banks
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1003733
Date first listed: 12-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 01661 21167
Part of a linear boundary called Great Ditch Banks 240m west of East 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 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 called Great Ditch Banks 240m west of East Chase Farm survives well and will contain further archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, development, maintenance, function, social organisation of the builders, territorial and strategic significance, agricultural practices, settlement 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 of Harleycombe Hill overlooking two dry valleys. The linear boundary survives as the largely buried remains of a sinuous bank and ditch with the slightest of visible earthworks of up to a maximum height of 0.3m and depth of 0.2m respectively. Excavated by Rahtz in 1959 the boundary work was found to have been constructed in the 1st century AD and associated with a nearby settlement represented by occupation debris including pottery, daub and quern fragments. It is believed to be part of an extensive group of similar boundary works, some of which are scheduled separately but others have not been 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 486
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
PastScape 214312; Wiltshire HER SU02SW201
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