Four earthwork enclosures on All Cannings Down
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1005706
Date first listed: 26-Jun-1924
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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: SU 09055 65220, SU 09792 65177
Animal pound, enclosed Iron Age farmstead, two conjoined bowl barrows and a bell barrow 2645m north-east of Cannings Cross Farm.
Reasons for Designation
The term animal pound is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word `pund' meaning enclosure, and is used to describe stock-proof areas for confining stray or illegally pastured stock and legally-kept animals rounded up at certain times of the year from areas of common grazing. The earliest documentary references to pounds date from the 12th century and they continued to be constructed and used throughout the medieval and post-medieval periods. Most surviving examples are likely to be less than three centuries old, and most will have fallen into disuse in the late 19th or early 20th century. Animal pounds are usually located in villages or towns though some lie in more open locations, particularly on the edge of old woodlands and commons. Construction methods vary according to the availability of building materials: stone, brick, fencing, iron railings and earthworks being used to enclose areas ranging from 4m by 6m to over 0.5ha. The walls are normally about 1.5m high, although greater heights are not uncommon as attempts to prevent poundbreach. In addition to stock control, animals were sometimes taken as a `distress' (seizure of property in lieu of debt or to enforce payment) and kept under the care of the pinder or hayward until redeemed. Pounds are usually unroofed and have a single entrance, although some have additional low entrances to allow the passage of sheep and pigs while retaining larger stock. Other features include rudimentary shelters for the pound-keeper, laid floors, drainage channels, troughs and internal partitions to separate the beasts. Animal pounds are widely distributed throughout England, with particular concentrations in the west and Midlands. About 250 examples are known to survive in fair condition, with perhaps another 150 examples recorded either as remains, or from documentary evidence alone. Pounds illustrate a specialised aspect of past social organisation and animal husbandry, and reflect the use and former appearance of the surrounding landscape. Most early examples of Iron Age farmsteads are characterised by a curvilinear enclosure with circular domestic buildings and associated agricultural structures. Where excavated, these sites are also found to contain pits or rectangular post- built structures for the storage of grain and other produce, evidence of an organised and efficient farming system. The surrounding enclosures would have provided protection against cattle rustling and tribal raiding. The simple farmsteads are sometimes superseded by rectilinear or triangular shaped enclosures with rectilinear buildings and many examples were occupied over an extended period and some grew in size and complexity. In central and southern England, most enclosed Iron Age farmsteads are situated in areas which are now under intensive arable cultivation. As a result, although some examples survive with upstanding earthworks, the majority have been recorded as crop- and soil-marks appearing on aerial photographs. Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often acted as a focus for burials in later periods. Often superficially similar, although differing widely in size, they exhibit regional variations in form and a diversity of burial practices. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape and their considerable variation of form and longevity as a monument type provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisations amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period. Bell barrows, the most visually impressive form of round barrow, are similarly funerary monuments dating to the Early and Middle Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 1500-1100 BC. They occur either in isolation or in round barrow cemeteries and were constructed as single or multiple mounds covering burials, often in pits, and surrounded by an enclosure ditch. The burials are frequently accompanied by weapons, personal ornaments and pottery and appear to be those of aristocratic individuals, usually men. Bell barrows (particularly multiple barrows) are rare nationally, with less than 250 known examples, most of which are in Wessex. Their richness in terms of grave goods provides evidence for chronological and cultural links amongst early prehistoric communities over most of southern and eastern England as well as providing an insight into their beliefs and social organisation. They are a particularly rare form of round barrow. Despite reduction in the heights of the earthworks through past cultivation the animal pound, enclosed Iron Age farmstead, two conjoined bowl barrows and a bell barrow 2645m north east of Cannings Cross Farm survive comparatively well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to their construction, development, function, date, agricultural practices, burial and funerary practices and inter relationships through time thus indicating the continued importance of this area and reflecting its overall landscape context.
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, which falls into two areas, includes an animal pound situated in the base of a dry valley and overlooked by the enclosed Iron Age farmstead, two conjoined bowl barrows and bell barrow which are situated on the upper slopes of a spur forming part of All Cannings Down. To the west the animal pound survives as a rectangular enclosure measuring approximately 83m long by 60m wide internally defined by a bank of up to 0.8m high with an outer ditch of up to 3m wide and 0.6m deep. Aerial photographs indicate an internal cut feature which measures close to 20m long by 10m wide. Some Romano-British pottery and animal bone has been retrieved from the interior although it appears to be a medieval animal pound. This sheep fold is thought to have belonged to the Abbey of St Mary in Winchester. To the east the enclosed Iron Age farmstead includes three conjoined roughly rectangular fields defined by banks standing up to 0.4m high with outer ditches of up to 0.2m deep which survive differentially. The three enclosures measure approximately 40m long by 36m wide, 50m long by 40m wide and 70m long by 40m wide and each contains circular depressions which have been identified as probable buildings. Immediately to the north west and partly incorporated into the enclosure boundaries are a pair of conjoined bowl barrows and a bell barrow. The bowl barrows survive as two conjoined circular mounds surrounded by buried quarry ditches from which the construction material was derived. The western mound is 14m in diameter and 0.8m high and the south eastern is 12m in diameter and 0.9m high. The bell barrow to the south east survives as a circular mound with an amorphous berm measuring in total approximately 20m in diameter and 1.7m high which is surrounded by a ditch of up to 4m wide and 0.3m deep. The barrows were the subject of partial excavation in 1849.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: WI 21
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
PastScape 215523, 215778 and 215508
Wiltshire HER SU06NE788, SU06NE716, SU06718 and SU06NE793
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