Cross dyke called Ponter’s Ball.
Reasons for Designation
Cross dykes are substantial linear earthworks typically between 0.2km and 1km long and 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 combinations 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 re-used 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 drove-ways or defensive earthworks. Cross dykes 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 have survived to the present day. The cross dyke called Ponter’s Ball survives well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, function, date, longevity, development, social, political, territorial and ritual significance and overall landscape context.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 20 August 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, which falls into two areas, includes a cross dyke situated on a ridge of higher ground between Hearty Moor and Kennard Moor, which were historically marshy areas. The cross dyke survives as a substantial linear bank measuring approximately 1095m long with a partially buried ditch to the east. Although preserved differentially the bank stands up to 4m high and decreases at either end. To both the northern and southern ends the earthwork apparently ends at the 32ft contour. It is bisected by a current road but at this point the banks splay suggesting this was an original entrance. There are several theories regarding its purpose and origin, Radford suggested it was part of a great Celtic sanctuary from the 3rd century BC, others suggest it might be early medieval and connected with the occupation of Glastonbury Tor. Generally, it is seen as possibly of territorial, political, agricultural or even religious significance. Partial excavations by Bulleid in 1909 showed the bank was constructed of layers of yellow and grey clay and was up to 2.7m above the original ground surface, the ditch was up to 3.6m deep and cut through a hard blue marl. Pottery recovered beneath the bank was believed to be Bronze Age. Trial trenches in 1970 by Poyntz Wright showed clay layers in the bank overlay a buried soil which contained both prehistoric and 12th century pottery suggesting at least at this point the bank post dated both.