Castle Ditches camp
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1005701
Date first listed: 18-Feb-1932
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference: ST 96370 28352
Large multivallate hillfort with a long barrow 435m north-east of Withyslade 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. Large multivallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of between 5ha and 85ha in area, located on hills and defined by two or more lines of concentric earthworks set at intervals of up to 15m. They date to the Iron Age period, most having been constructed and used between the sixth century BC and the mid-first century AD. They are generally regarded as centres of permanent occupation, defended in response to increasing warfare, a reflection of the power struggle between competing elites. Earthworks usually consist of a rampart and ditch, although some only have ramparts. Access to the interior is generally provided by two entrances although examples with one and more than two have been noted. These may comprise a single gap in the rampart, inturned or offset ramparts, oblique approaches, guardrooms or outworks. Internal features generally include evidence for intensive occupation, often in the form of oval or circular houses. These display variations in size and are often clustered, for example, along streets. Four- and six-post structures, interpreted as raised granaries, also occur widely while a few sites appear to contain evidence for temples. Other features associated with settlement include platforms, paved areas, pits, gullies, fence lines, hearths and ovens. Additional evidence, in the form of artefacts, suggests that industrial activity such as bronze- and iron-working as well as pottery manufacture occurred on many sites. Large multivallate hillforts are rare with around 50 examples recorded nationally. These occur mostly in two concentrations, in Wessex and the Welsh Marches, although scattered examples occur elsewhere. They are rare and important for understanding the nature of social organisation within the Iron Age period. Long barrows were constructed as earthen or drystone mounds with flanking ditches and acted as funerary monuments during the Early and Middle Neolithic periods (3400-2400 BC). They represent the burial places of Britain's early farming communities and, as such, are amongst the oldest field monuments surviving visibly in the present landscape. Where investigated, long barrows appear to have been used for collective burial, often with only parts of the body selected for internment. Certain sites provide evidence for several phases of funerary monument preceding the barrow and, consequently, it is probable that long barrows acted as important ritual sites for local communities over a considerable period of time. On Cranborne Chase, some long barrows occur in groups and some are also associated with other broadly contemporary monument types, such as the Dorset Cursus. Some long barrows within this area also appear to have acted as foci for later Bronze Age round barrow groups which are concentrated within the surrounding areas. Some 500 examples of long barrows and long cairns, their counterparts in the uplands, are recorded nationally. Long barrows are known to occur across Wessex, and the concentration on Cranborne Chase is particularly significant on account of the range of examples present and their archaeological associations. Long barrows, therefore, form an important feature of the Cranborne Chase landscape. As one of the few types of Neolithic structure to survive as earthworks, and due to their comparative rarity, their considerable age and their longevity as a monument type, all long barrows on the Chase are considered to be important. The large multivallate hillfort with a long barrow 435m north east of Withyslade Farm survives well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, development, maintenance, social organisation, territorial, political, strategic and economic significance, longevity, agricultural practices, industrial activity, trade, domestic arrangements, the relationship with the possible long barrow and its funerary and ritual practices and the overall landscape context of both types of monument.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 18 June 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. As such they do not yet have the full descriptions of their modernised counterparts available. Please contact us if you would like further information.
This monument includes a large multivallate hillfort and a long barrow situated on the summit of an extremely prominent and steeply sided hill with far reaching views across the valley of the River Nadder. The hillfort survives as a roughly triangular enclosure measuring 410m by 350m internally and enclosing approximately 9.7ha defined by three rampart banks up to a maximum of 10m high with two intervening ditches up to 1.5m deep and an outer berm of up to 3m wide. The hillfort is known locally as ‘Castle Ditches Camp’. There are two major entrances, one to the east is approached by a 10m wide and 1m deep hollow way and has an additional outwork with a bank and ditch and staggered access across the two inner ramparts. The western entrance has a narrow covered way of up to 290m long and 6m deep and approaches and crosses the ramparts obliquely. There are two further entrances one to the north east is slightly in-turned and a simple gap to the south but these may be later in date. Within the interior is a long barrow which survives as an elongated oval mound aligned north east to south west and measuring 60m long, 25m wide and 0.7m high with a slight flanking ditch of up to 8m wide visible on the south east side whilst the opposing ditch is entirely buried. A small archaeological excavation in 1989 examined a partial section across the inner ditch and outer bank and in the past chance finds of haematite-rich pottery have been made.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: WI 11
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
Wiltshire HER ST92NE200
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