Three adjoining linear earthworks and three bowl barrows north of Bokerley Dyke on Martin Down


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011006

Date first listed: 01-Aug-1995


Ordnance survey map of Three adjoining linear earthworks and three bowl barrows north of Bokerley Dyke on Martin Down
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Hampshire

District: New Forest (District Authority)

Parish: Martin

National Grid Reference: SU 04250 20719, SU 04576 19855


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.

Adjacent to the southern earthwork, not far from Bokerley Dyke, are the three bowl barrows. These, 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 2400-1500BC. 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 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. There are over 10,000 surviving bowl barrows recorded nationally (many have already been destroyed), occurring across lowland Britain. 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 and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of 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 and development of early downland land division, agriculture and settlement. The three associated earthworks and three Bronze Age bowl barrows on Martin Down survive well and the group forms part of the wider distribution of monuments of Bronze Age and later date constructed on the down. These were recently the subject of a detailed survey by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. All 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, which falls into two areas, includes three adjoining linear earthworks and three Bronze Age bowl barrows on Martin Down. The three linear earthworks are aligned broadly from north to south and include: at the south, an earthwork c.570m long; a second earthwork, c.1.81km long, running west and then NNW from the southern earthwork; an `L'-shaped earthwork c.300m long adjoining the northern end of the second earthwork. The three bowl barrows are situated at the eastern side of the southern earthwork, not far from its junction with Bokerley Dyke, and are aligned from north to south. The monument lies within the Martin Down National Nature Reserve. This monument, SM25605, abuts SM24328 (a Roman road) and SM25610 (Bokerley Dyke), but for purposes of clarity these monuments have been defined as separate schedulings.

The southern earthwork runs as an upstanding feature for c.260m NNE from Bokerley Dyke to the bottom of a dry valley. Thereafter it is much reduced or wholly infilled and levelled. The reduced earthwork has been incorporated into an existing field boundary for at least 130m up the north slope of the dry valley, but their paths gradually diverge. The earthwork continues in the field to the east as a levelled double ditch, its course recorded as crop marks and soil marks on aerial photographs, to and beyond the junction with the second earthwork. Its course beyond this junction is not included in this scheduling. Where upstanding, the earthwork consists of a ditch with a single bank to its east and has an overall width of 10m. The bank is c.4m wide and rises up to 1.4m above the base of the ditch and c.0.3m above the general ground level. The feature's association with the second earthwork suggests that it is of Bronze Age date. The second earthwork is almost wholly levelled but can be traced on the ground through variation in grass growth and is also known from aerial photographs. From the southern earthwork it runs west for c.150m before turning sharply to the north west and continuing for c.1.7km, as far as the Sorviodunum (Old Sarum) to Vindocladia (Badbury) Roman road, the subject of a separate scheduling, SM24328. The earthwork continues north of the Roman road to join Grim's Ditch in Verditch Chase. This section of the earthwork, SM25608, is the subject of a separate scheduling. Near its south eastern end the earthwork survives as a shallow depression up to 3m wide and 0.2m deep. A section recorded during the construction of a gas pipeline showed the ditch to be 1.45m wide and 0.75m deep. Pottery of Middle Bronze Age date was recovered from a stretch of the ditch excavated by General Pitt Rivers.

Adjoining the northern linear earthwork c.65m south of the Roman road, the now levelled third earthwork runs south east for c.175m before turning through a right-angle and continuing for c.140m to an existing field boundary. There is no known evidence that the feature extended further to the north east.

The three closely spaced bowl barrows, aligned from north to south, lie alongside the bank of the southern earthwork c.110m north of its junction with Bokerley Dyke. All three barrow mounds are irregular, probably as a result of antiquarian excavation, of which there are no known records. The southern barrow has a mound c.13m in diameter and up to 1.5m high. A ditch, from which material was quarried during the construction of the mound is largely infilled, but survives as a depression up to 3.5m wide and 0.3m deep at the north and west sides of the mound. The ditches of this barrow and the central one are contiguous.

The mound of the central barrow is also up to 1.5m high and c.10.5m in diameter but is very irregular, stepped and possibly spread. The partly infilled quarry ditch survives as a 3m wide, 0.5m deep depression around the west side of the mound. The ditch appears to cut both the tail of the bank of the linear earthwork and the ditch of the northern barrow, although in the case of the latter this may be the result of later disturbance. The northern barrow has a mound c.8m in diameter and up to 0.7m high. The quarry ditch, 2m wide, is here also largely infilled and is again visible only at the west side of the mound.

All fencing and associated posts are excluded from the scheduling but 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: 25605

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Bowen, H C, Eagles, B N (ed), The archaeology of Bokerley Dyke, (1990), 109-11
Bowen, H C, Eagles, B N (ed), The archaeology of Bokerley Dyke, (1990), 109
Catherall, P D et al , The Southern Feeder: the archaeology of a gas pipeline, (1984), 187
Pitt Rivers, A, Excavations in Cranborne Chase, (1898), 190
Sumner, H, The Ancient Earthworks of Cranborne Chase, (1913)
Grinsell, L V, 'Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club' in Hampshire Barrows, (1938), 356
Grinsell, L V, 'Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club' in Hampshire Barrows, (1938), 356
Eagles, B, (1994)
OS, Hants LIVaNE, (1925)
RCHME, Archeological records for the parish of Martin, Hants, (1976)

End of official listing