Cross dyke 480m east of Great Kimble church

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1013934

Date first listed: 27-Nov-1995

Map

Ordnance survey map of Cross dyke 480m east of Great Kimble church
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Location

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

County: Buckinghamshire

District: Wycombe (District Authority)

Parish: Great and Little Kimble

National Grid Reference: SP 83034 06001

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 480m east of Great Kimble church survives in very good condition. The form and composition of the bank will provide evidence for the method of construction, which may include traces of timber palisades erected along the top. The earlier landsurface buried beneath the bank is a valuable resource capable of providing information about prehistoric soil conditions and land use. This environmental evidence, together with that contained in the primary silts within the ditch, may indicate the nature of the landscape in which the monument was set. The bank material and ditch fills may also contain artefacts from which the period of use can be determined and the function of the monument assessed.

The association of the cross dyke with a second dyke near the tip of the spur is considered to be of great interest, providing insights into the division of land and the nature of prehistoric settlement in the Chiltern Hills.

History

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

Details

The monument includes a prehistoric multivallate cross dyke transecting the neck of a narrow wooded spur extending westwards from the Chiltern escarpment between Happy Valley and The Coombes, at the foot of which lies the village of Great Kimble.

The dyke is orientated north east to south west and extends for c.140m between the upper slopes of the steep natural scarps on either side of the spur. The main eastern ditch averages 5m in width and 1.2m in depth, and is flanked on the western side by an earthen bank which varies between 4m and 7m across and reaches a maximum height of 0.7m. The dyke is breached in two places. A hollow way, some 2m in depth, which is thought to have originated in the medieval period, ascends the spur along its northern side and truncates the dyke at a point some 30m from the northern end. A causeway located some 40m further to the south, carries a modern estate road which runs parallel to the hollow way. The second, western ditch is visible between the hollow way and road, divided from the longer ditch by the accompanying bank. This feature measures c.4m in width and 0.9m deep and, in common with the eastern ditch, has a flat base containing deep deposits of humic soil.

The earthworks are less clearly defined immediately to either side of the road, probably as a result of soil dumping during its construction. On the southern side of the road the bank is surmounted by a slight embankment which is believed to be a woodland boundary dating from the medieval or post-medieval period.

A second cross dyke runs parallel to this example, traversing the end of the spur some 250m to the west. Fragments of Early Iron Age pottery have been collected from the vicinity of this second dyke, which is the subject of a separate scheduling.

The surface of the road and all fences and fence 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.

Legacy

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

Legacy System number: 27130

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

Books and journals
Dyer, J, Discovering Regional Archaeology: Eastern England, (1969), 9
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, , An Inventory of Historic Monuments in Buckinghamshire, (1912), 164
Other
Ordnance Survey record card, ASP, SU 80 NW 7, (1972)
Quotes S. Frere's opinion on the site, Gowling, C N, 0932: Correspondance with Ordnance Survey, (1964)
Record of reported finds, 0932,
Title: Southern Britain in the Iron Age Source Date: 1962 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing