Thornham Down prehistoric and medieval landscapes


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010219

Date first listed: 12-Mar-1990


Ordnance survey map of Thornham Down prehistoric and medieval landscapes
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Charlton

District: Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Enford

District: Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Rushall

District: Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Upavon

District: Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Wilsford

National Grid Reference: SU 09729 51961


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

Reasons for Designation

The most complete and extensive survival of chalk downland archaeological remains in central southern England occurs on Salisbury Plain, particularly in those areas lying within the Salisbury Plain Training Area. These remains represent one of the few extant archaeological "landscapes" in Britain and are considered to be of special significance because they differ in character from those in other areas with comparable levels of preservation. Individual sites on Salisbury Plain are seen as being additionally important because the evidence of their direct association with each other survives so well.

Well preserved, extensive prehistoric and Romano-British field systems are rare nationally, as are contemporary settlements and enclosures surviving in the form of earthworks. Within the Thornham Down monument several prehistoric and Romano-British settlement sites and enclosures have been recorded within one of the largest areas of continuous extant cultivation earthworks in Southern Britain. The significance of the monument is considerably enhanced by the demonstrable relationship between the field systems and several major boundary earthworks and by the inclusion of several prehistoric funerary monuments considered to be nationally important in their own right.


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


A substantial area of downland with a large number of extant monuments. The area is an exceptionally well preserved and important example of an extensive prehistoric and medieval landscape. 1 - A settlement site. Various Romano-British finds are listed as coming from this site. 2 - Strip fields on the west of Thornham Down. 3 - A fairly well preserved series of lynchets opposite the western area of Thornham Down. 4 - A field system to the south-west of Thornham Down. 5 - "Church ditches", earthwork enclosure with no visible entrance. Mid to late Iron age pottery has been recovered. 6 - A good example of a "Celtic" cultivation system. 7 - A bowl barrow known as "Slay barrow" originally c.24m diameter. 8 - A combe lynchet system. 9 - A well defined series of strip lynchets, c.2m high and 100m long. 10 - A boundary earthwork running along the south of Thornham Down. This ditch/bank/ditch feature averages 12m to 15m wide overall. 11 - A complex area of field systems in the centre of Thornham Down. Celtic fields are overlain by strip cultivation. The lynchets have a maximum height of c.1.2m and field banks are up to 0.8m high. 12 - An extensive, Iron Age/Romano-British field system, to the south-east of Thornham Down. It consists of banks and terraces and is especially well preserved on the valley sides where the lynchets are up to 2m high. 13 - A field system to the south-east of Thornham Down. 14 - A system of lynchets to the south-east of Thornham Down. The lynchets on the north side of the system are very well preserved and c.2m high. On the south side there is one good lynchet. 15 - An area of well preserved medieval type strip lynchets up to 3m high and extending for over a mile across the valley sides. They are best preserved in the east and west. 16 - An area of earthworks and ground disturbance. Some faint house platforms have been identified, and sherds of Romano-British pottery discovered in the area confirm that there is a settlement site. 17 - A rectangular enclosure possibly a stock pen. The north and west sides exist as lynchets and the east side has a well preserved bank and ditch about 0.5m high. 18 - Two trackways running north/south and converging in the south, which are also joined by one leading from the west. 19 - An enclosure possibly a stock pen that shows slightly on the ground as an earthwork feature. 20 - Strip fields in good condition with banks a maximum height of 1m. 21 - Settlement, originally recorded as surrounded by a bank and ditch with entrances in the east and north sides. 22 - A linear earthwork to the south of Rushall Down. In the west it is evident as a distinct "shelf" on the hillslope, further east, however, it manifests itself as a triple bank system with intermediate ditches. 23 - An area of well preserved lynchets on a south facing slope below "Long Ditch". 24 - A boundary bank and ditch, known as "Long Ditch". The whole monument runs for c.3.5 miles. The eastern section is c.1200m long and visible as either a scarp or ditch with a counterscarp bank. 25 - A large sub-square enclosure c.220m maximum north/south by c.215m maximum east/west. 26 - An Iron Age/Romano-British settlement site, extensively excavated in the 19th century. 27 - An earthen mound of barrow-like appearance 18.5m diameter, with no sign of a ditch. 28 - A settlement site located mainly from finds in the area. It is probably of Iron Age/Romano-British date. 29 - A barrow identified in antiquity at this grid reference. Nothing can now be seen on the ground and the area has been damaged by the military. (SU110516)

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


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

Legacy System number: 10035

Legacy System: RSM


Trust for Wessex Archaeology, (1987)
Wiltshire Library & Museum Service, (1987)

End of official listing