A cross dyke and bowl barrow on the northern spur of Beacon Hill

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1012033

Date first listed: 27-Oct-1970

Date of most recent amendment: 26-Sep-1995

Map

Ordnance survey map of A cross dyke and bowl barrow on the northern spur of Beacon Hill
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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Location

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Hampshire

District: Basingstoke and Deane (District Authority)

Parish: Burghclere

National Grid Reference: SU 45593 57624

Summary

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

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 droveways 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 and hence all well- preserved examples are considered to be of national importance.

The cross dyke on the northern spur of Beacon Hill is well preserved despite some damage to the western end and will contain archaeological and environmental information relating to its construction and use. It lies in close proximity to the nearby hillfort on the summit of Beacon Hill. The bowl barrow lies close to the cross dyke at its uphill, southern, side. Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of barrow, are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. 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 as 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 most of 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 organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection. Despite evidence for partial excavation, the barrow south of the cross dyke on Beacon Hill is well preserved and will contain archaeological and environmental information relating to the construction and use of the monument.

History

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

Details

The monument includes a section of a cross dyke of Iron Age date and a Bronze Age bowl barrow on the northern spur of Beacon Hill, a ridge of Upper Chalk south of the Kennet valley. The cross dyke is probably associated with the large univallate hillfort on the summit of Beacon Hill, a little over 200m to the south. The bowl barrow lies above and c.5m south of the cross dyke, which runs across the spur from WNW to ESE. The cross dyke, consisting of a ditch with a single bank at its lower side, has an overall length of c.145m. The ditch is up to 6m wide; the bank has a maximum width of 4m and is up to 0.5m high, but diminishes and is absent altogether towards the western end of the cross dyke where the ditch only survives. The barrow has a mound c.22m in diameter and up to 2.25m high. Surrounding the mound is a ditch from which material was quarried during the construction of the monument. This has become partly infilled over the years but survives as a depression up to 1m deep and 5m wide. Irregularities in the surface of the mound are probably the result of antiquarian excavation. All fencing and fence 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.

Legacy

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

Legacy System number: 25611

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

Books and journals
Grinsell, L V, 'Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club' in Hampshire Barrows, , Vol. 14 (3), (1938), 347

End of official listing