Two linear earthworks in Vernditch Chase


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010763

Date first listed: 16-Oct-1964

Date of most recent amendment: 05-Feb-1996


Ordnance survey map of Two linear earthworks in Vernditch Chase
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Broad Chalke

County: Hampshire

District: New Forest (District Authority)

Parish: Martin

National Grid Reference: SU 03808 21060


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

Reasons for Designation

Linear boundaries are substantial earthwork features comprising single or multiple ditches and banks which may extend over distances varying between less than 1km to over 10km. They survive as earthworks or as linear features visible as cropmarks on aerial photographs or as a combination of both. The evidence of excavation and study of associated monuments demonstrate that their construction spans the millennium from the Middle Bronze Age, although they may have been re-used later. The scale of many linear boundaries has been taken to indicate that they were constructed by large social groups and were used to mark important boundaries in the landscape; their impressive scale displaying the corporate prestige of their builders. They would have been powerful symbols, often with religious associations, used to define and order the territorial holdings of those groups who constructed them. Linear earthworks are of considerable importance for the analysis of settlement and land use in the Bronze Age; all well preserved examples will normally merit statutory protection.

Much of the archaeological landscape of Martin Down and the surrounding area is preserved as earthworks or crop-marks which together will provide a detailed understanding of the nature of early land division, agriculture and settlement. The section of Grim's Ditch and the adjoining earthwork in Vernditch Chase survive well and are two of the numerous monuments of Bronze Age date constructed in the area. These were recently the subject of a survey by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. The earthworks will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the construction and use of the monument.


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


The monument includes sections of two associated linear earthworks of Bronze Age date in Vernditch Chase, the longer of which forms part of Grim's Ditch, an extensive series of prehistoric boundaries lying mainly east of Bokerley Dyke. The section of Grim's Ditch runs broadly eastward from the Hampshire/Dorset county boundary for c.1.91km, crossing part of the Martin Down National Nature Reserve before entering Vernditch Chase. Two right-angled corners accommodate a central section running from north to south. The earthwork has been levelled and infilled shortly before the county boundary and to its west, and has been quarried away at the eastern end, north of the Roman road between Sorviodunum (Old Sarum) and Vindocladia (Badbury). The second earthwork runs from the southern corner of Grim's Ditch to the Roman road. SM25608 abuts SM24328 (the Roman road) but for the purposes of clarity these monuments have been defined as separate schedulings. Grim's Ditch crosses slightly undulating, generally south east-sloping ground; the western end traverses the head of a shallow dry valley. The eastern section of the earthwork runs for c.555m on a gentle south east to west curve before turning sharply to the south. The earthwork is here visible principally as a ditch, which at the eastern end is c.11m wide and up to 1.25m deep. There is little sign of a bank or banks alongside the eastern part of the ditch, but further to the west low banks, up to 0.3m high and 3m wide, give the earthwork an overall width of c.17m. The north to south section is c.430m long, straight except for a slight westward deviation near the southern end. This earthwork has a maximum overall width of c.16m, with banks flanking both sides of the ditch. The western part of the earthwork is c.940m in length. Running slightly south of west for most of its length, the feature turns due west at the western end. The earthwork is at its most substantial shortly after the southern corner, here having an overall width of c.18m. The northern bank rises up to 1.7m above the base of the 8m-9m wide ditch, but the southern bank is lower, reaching a maximum height of 0.9m. Further west, the feature diminishes slightly to c.16m wide overall, but retains banks at both sides for almost its whole length. The earthwork is levelled and infilled c.8m east of the county boundary and to its west. The second earthwork, c.225m in length, runs from the southern corner of Grim's Ditch south towards the Roman road. Intermittent low banks, c.3m wide and not more than 0.4m high, flank both sides of the ditch which is c.5m wide and has a maximum depth of 0.5m. The earthwork has been disturbed immediately north of the Roman road, but continues to its south as the subject of a separate scheduling. All metalled forestry tracks, fencing, gates and associated posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath 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: 25608

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Bowen, H C, Eagles, B N (ed), The archaeology of Bokerley Dyke, (1990), 104-5
Bowen, H C, Eagles, B N (ed), The archaeology of Bokerley Dyke, (1990), 12

End of official listing