Two pillow mounds 400m ENE of sea mark on Ashey Down


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1012755

Date first listed: 13-Nov-1995


Ordnance survey map of Two pillow mounds 400m ENE of sea mark on Ashey Down
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Isle of Wight (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Havenstreet and Ashey

National Grid Reference: SZ 57858 87651


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

Reasons for Designation

A warren is an area of land set aside for the breeding and management of rabbits or hares in order to provide a constant supply of fresh meat and skins. Although the hare is an indigenous species, the tradition of warren construction and use dates from the 12th century, following the introduction of rabbits into England from the continent. Warrens usually contain a number of purpose-built breeding places known as pillow mounds or rabbit buries, which were intended to centralise the colony and make catching the animals easier, whether using nets, ferrets or dogs. The mounds vary in design although rarely exceeding 0.7m in height. Earlier monuments such as burial mounds, boundary features and mottes were sometimes reused as breeding places. The mounds are usually surrounded by ditches and contain underlying channels or are situated on sloping ground to facilitate drainage. The interior of the mound may also contain nesting places constructed of stone slabs or cut into the underlying subsoil or bedrock. A typical warren may contain between one and forty pillow mounds or rabbit buries and occupy an area up to c.600ha. Many warrens were enclosed by a bank, hedge or wall intended to contain and protect the stock. Other features associated with the warren include vermin traps (usually a dead-fall mechanism within a small tunnel), and more rarely traps for the warren stock (known in Yorkshire as `types') which could contain the animals unharmed and allow for selective culling. Larger warrens might include living quarters for the warrener who kept charge of the site, sometimes surrounded by an enclosed garden and outbuildings. Early warrens were mostly associated with the higher levels of society; however, they gradually spread in popularity so that by the 16th and 17th centuries they were a common feature on most manors and estates throughout the country. Warrens continued in use until fairly recent times, finally declining in the face of 19th and 20th century changes in agricultural practice, and the onset of myxomatosis. Warrens are found in all parts of England, the earliest examples lying in the southern part of the country. Approximately 1,000 - 2,000 examples are known nationally with concentrations in upland areas, on heathland and in coastal zones. The profits from a successfully managed warren could, however, be considerable and many areas in lowland England were set aside for warrens at the expense of agricultural land. Although relatively common, warrens are important for their associations with other classes of monument, including various forms of settlement, deer parks, field systems and fishponds. They may also provide evidence of the economy of both secular and ecclesiastical estates. All well preserved medieval examples are considered worthy of protection. A sample of well preserved sites of later date will also merit protection.

Despite one of the mounds having been partially excavated, the two pillow mounds 400m ENE of the sea mark are integral to the understanding of land use on Ashey Down in the medieval period and will contain archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed.


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


The monument includes two of a group of five pillow mounds on the mid-slope of an east facing hillside on the central upper chalk ridge of the Isle of Wight. The pillow mounds in this scheduling are aligned NNE-SSW and have mounds which measure 7.5m and 20m long and are 6m and 7m wide. Each mound is 0.6m high, and has a ditch on its north west side from which material was quarried during its construction. These ditches have become largely infilled over the years. The ditch of the northern mound can no longer be seen at ground level, but survives as a buried feature; the ditch of the southern mound can be seen. Both are 1m wide. One of the mounds was partially excavated by B Barrow in 1853. Drewett identified a medieval enclosure in 1969 in the south east corner of Ashey Down which encompassed the five pillow mounds. Near the centre of the enclosure was a small copse in which were the remains of a post-medieval farm building. The bricks and tiles indicated a 17th-18th century structure. This was demolished in 1769. Pottery finds suggest that this site may have had medieval origins.

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: 22057

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Barrow, B, 'Journal of the British Archaeological Association' in Journal of the British Archaeological Association, , Vol. 10, (1854), 164
Drewett, P L, 'Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club' in Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club, (1970), 56
Drewett, P L, 'Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club' in Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club, (1970), 55-56

End of official listing