Berwick Coombe ditch
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1005587
Date first listed: 18-Jul-1955
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This copy shows the entry on 20-Mar-2019 at 13:39:47.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
Parish: Berwick St. John
District: Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
Parish: Donhead St. Andrew
National Grid Reference: ST 93763 23508
Cross ridge dyke 825m east of Arundell 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. Cross ridge dykes are substantial linear earthworks typically between 0.2km long and 1km long, comprising one or more ditches arranged beside and parallel to one or more banks. They generally occur in upland situations, running across ridges and spurs. They are recognised as earthworks or as cropmarks on aerial photographs, or as a combination of both. The evidence of excavation and analogy with associated monuments demonstrates that their construction spans the millennium from the Middle Bronze Age, although they may have been reused later. Current information favours the view that they were used as territorial boundary markers, probably demarcating land allotment within communities, although they may also have been used as trackways, cattle droveways or defensive earthworks. Cross ridge dykes occur across Cranborne Chase and are one of the few monument types which illustrate how land was divided up in the prehistoric period. They are of considerable importance for any analysis of settlement and land use in the Bronze Age. Very few examples have survived to the present day nationally and all well-preserved examples are particularly rare. The number of well-preserved examples within Cranborne Chase is particularly notable. The cross ridge dyke 825m east of Arundell Farm survives well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, function, maintenance, social organisation of the builders, territorial and strategic significance, agricultural practices and overall landscape context.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 22 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 cross ridge dyke situated across the southern summit of the steeply sloping and narrow ridge called White Sheet Hill overlooking the dry valley of Berwick Coombe and the more distant Ferne Brook. The cross ridge dyke survives as an east to west aligned bank measuring up to 318m long, 5m wide and 0.5m high with a ditch to the north of 4m wide and 0.8m deep to the north of which is the slightest trace of a counterscarp bank. This cross ridge dyke is reputedly mentioned in a charter of 958 AD as being ‘Bridinghe Dich’ or ‘dyke of the Bridings’ a boundary mark.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: WI 472
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
PastScape 210689; Wiltshire HER ST92SW615
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