Section of the north Oxfordshire Grim's Ditch and a section of Akeman Street Roman road immediately south east of North Lodge in Blenheim Great Park


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009425

Date first listed: 10-Apr-1951

Date of most recent amendment: 18-Oct-1994


Ordnance survey map of Section of the north Oxfordshire Grim's Ditch and a section of Akeman Street Roman road immediately south east of North Lodge in Blenheim Great Park
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Oxfordshire

District: West Oxfordshire (District Authority)

Parish: Blenheim

National Grid Reference: SP 42728 18265


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

The north Oxfordshire Grim's Ditch is a series of discrete linear earthworks of Iron Age date which together make up at least one segmented circuit, situated between the valleys of the Rivers Evenlode, Glyme and Windrush in an area of the eastern Cotswolds. In recent years evidence for an outer concentric circuit has come to light, largely from the study of cropmarks visible on aerial photographs. The area enclosed by the inner circuit is 12 sq km and the outer circuit encloses between 60 and 70 sq km. The earthworks which define this area were only built in open country leaving apparent gaps in the areas previously forested. Where visible, the Grim's Ditch always includes a rampart of dumped earth and stone, a berm and outer ditch and, in places, a narrow palisade trench beyond. It is believed that, together, these components served to enclose and divide an area of land and provide control over access through the open country which existed between heavily forested areas. The ditch is Iron Age in date and provides evidence of how the landscape was managed and divided in the period immediately prior to the Roman Conquest. The high concentration of sites representing Iron Age ritual and agricultural activity which occur within the area defined by the ditch confirms the view that it served to define an area which was of particular significance to its builders. All sections surviving as visible earthworks, and sections identified by aerial photography which are integral to a general understanding of the nature and extent of Grim's Ditch, will normally merit statutory protection.

The sections of Grim's Ditch and Akeman Street south east of North Lodge both survive well and are known from aerial photographs and partial excavation to contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to their construction and the landscape in which they were built. This is the one area where a visible overlap occurs between the ditch system and the later road. As such, this point is critical for providing a full understanding of their chronological and spatial relationship.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes a section of the north Oxfordshire Grim's Ditch and a section of Akeman Street Roman road at their intersection, immediately south east of North Lodge, in Blenheim Great Park. This section of the north Oxfordshire Grim's Ditch includes two lengths of rampart and associated ditches, set at an angle, and separated by a 4m wide strip representing an entrance. The ditch sections run from the north west to the south east for 150m to meet Akeman Street and then run roughly west to east for 370m south of the Roman road. The ramparts were originally 6m wide and up to 2m high. This section has been partially levelled by the construction of the drive from the column to Ditchley Gate but survives as a visible earthwork from 0.2m to 2m high. The ditch lies north of the rampart and measures up to 10m wide and up to 1.5m deep. A 60m long section, east of the intersection of Akeman Street, has been infilled to allow the passage of vehicles along the drive but is visible on air photographs, suggesting its survival as a buried feature. Akeman Street runs east to west along the line of an older prehistoric trackway, using a pre-existing entrance through the Grim's Ditch. The carriageway is known from excavations in 1898 to consist of a layer of vertically laid stones covered with a c.0.2m thick layer of gravel and fine stones. This surface measures up to 4m across and is flanked by two drainage ditches 2m wide. Although the line of the carriageway remains visible above ground as a slight raised earthwork, c.5m wide, the ditches have become infilled over the years and survive as buried features. Excluded from the scheduling are the tarmac surface of the road leading to Ditchley Gate from Blenheim Palace, gate and fences which run east to west along the north side of Akeman Street, and the post and wire fence running north to south along the rampart north of Akeman Street, although the land beneath all of these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 21837

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
'OXONENSIA' in BLENHEIM PALACE 1936, , Vol. II, (1936)
Excavation reports, OXONENSIA, BLENHEIM PARK 1936, Proceedings, (1936)
FIELDWORK SURVEY, Copeland, T, The North Oxfordshire Grim's Ditch System,
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:10000 Series Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: SP 41 NW
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:10000 Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Sheet SP 41 NW

End of official listing