Romano-British aggregate village 1420m north-west 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. 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 Most early examples are characterised by a curvilinear enclosure with round buildings, although these are sometimes superseded by rectilinear or triangular shaped enclosures with rectilinear buildings.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. Romano-British aggregate villages are nucleated settlements formed by groups subsistence level farmsteads enclosed either individually or collectively, or with no formal boundary. Most enclosures, where they occur, are formed by curvilinear walls or banks, sometimes surrounded by ditches, and the dwellings are usually associated with pits, stock enclosures, cultivation plots and field systems, indicating a mixed farming economy. In use throughout the Roman period (c.43-450 AD), they often occupied sites of earlier agricultural settlements. Romano-British aggregate villages are a very rare monument type with examples recorded in the north of England and on the chalk down lands of Wessex and Sussex. Their degree of survival will depend upon the intensity of subsequent land use. They are very rare and subsequently important for understanding the prolonged development history of largely agrarian areas. Despite partial early excavations the Romano-British aggregate village 1420m north west of Down Farm survives well and will contain further archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, development, longevity, the social organisation of the builders, the territorial, strategic, economic and political significance of the village, agricultural practices, domestic arrangements and its 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 a Romano-British aggregate village situated on the summit of a ridge in Stockton Wood between several steeply sided dry valleys. The village survives as a complex series of earthworks which include two discrete and individually enclosed settlements one to the west and one to the east, with an unenclosed settlement of several huts in the area between them which have all been further enclosed within a much greater outer enclosure defined by a single bank and ditch on all except the south side where it is a double bank and ditch. The outer enclosure banks are from 0.4m up to 1.8m high and the ditch is from 0.9m up to 1.2m deep. The western settlement covers approximately 9.5ha and contains hollow ways, small plots defined by banks and circular and rectangular scoops of from 0.2m up to 0.5m deep indicating houses and ancillary buildings. The eastern settlement covers approximately 3ha and contains similar features to the larger settlement although it has been crossed by a track cut during the Second World War. In the area between the two discreet settlements are further scoops thought to represent an open or unenclosed settlement. Several excavations have been made in this area dating back to those carried out by Colt Hoare. These have produced many finds indicating an occupation range of the 1st to 4th centuries AD.
Further archaeological remains survive in the vicinity but not all are included in the scheduling because they have not been formally assessed.