Section of the north Oxfordshire Grim's Ditch west of Common Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1013236

Date first listed: 18-Dec-1978

Date of most recent amendment: 04-Oct-1995


Ordnance survey map of Section of the north Oxfordshire Grim's Ditch west of Common Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Oxfordshire

District: West Oxfordshire (District Authority)

Parish: Hailey

County: Oxfordshire

District: West Oxfordshire (District Authority)

Parish: North Leigh

National Grid Reference: SP 37964 12274, SP 38275 12272


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

Reasons for Designation

The north Oxfordshire Grim's Ditch is a series of discrete linear earthworks of Iron Age date which together make up at least one segmented circuit, situated between the valleys of the Rivers Evenlode, Glyme and Windrush in an area of the eastern Cotswolds. In recent years evidence for an outer concentric circuit has come to light, largely from the study of cropmarks visible on aerial photographs. The area enclosed by the inner circuit is 12 sq km and the outer circuit encloses between 60 and 70 sq km. The earthworks which define this area were only built in open country leaving apparent gaps in the areas previously forested. Where visible, the Grim's Ditch always includes a rampart of dumped earth and stone, a berm and outer ditch and, in places, a narrow palisade trench beyond. It is believed that, together, these components served to enclose and divide an area of land and provide control over access through the open country which existed between heavily forested areas. The ditch is Iron Age in date and provides evidence of how the landscape was managed and divided in the period immediately prior to the Roman Conquest. The high concentration of sites representing Iron Age ritual and agricultural activity which occur within the area defined by the ditch confirms the view that it served to define an area which was of particular significance to its builders. All sections surviving as visible earthworks, and sections identified by aerial photography which are integral to a general understanding of the nature and extent of Grim's Ditch, will normally merit statutory protection.

The section of Grim's Ditch west of Common Farm survives well, while limited excavations have confirmed that it will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction and the landscape in which it was built.


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


The monument, which falls into two areas, includes a 650m long section of the north Oxfordshire Grim's Ditch running from east to west, commencing c.100m south west of Common Farm. It is cut by a feeder water main from the North Leigh Reservoir 150m west of its eastern end. This section of Grim's Ditch has a rampart bank measuring c.6m wide, originally standing up to 2m high although it presently stands no more than 0.5m above the modern ground level. To the south is a 4m wide berm which separates the bank from a ditch which measures from 5m-10m wide at the surface. This ditch has become infilled over the years and is difficult to see at ground level. However, it is known from excavation to survive below ground level to its original depth of 2m. The section east of the main has been reduced by cultivation from the medieval period onwards, but is clearly visible on aerial photographs which show it ending in a terminal at its eastern end. Excluded from the scheduling are the post and wire fences forming the field boundaries, although the ground beneath all of these 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: 21845

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Crawford, O G S, 'Antiquity' in The North Oxfordshire Grim's Ditch, , Vol. IV No 15, (1930), 303
Fine, D, 'Oxoniensia' in An Excavation of the North Oxon Grim's Ditch at North Leigh, (), 12-16
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:10000 Series Source Date: 1981 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: SP 31 NE

End of official listing