1100m section of the north Oxfordshire Grim's Ditch at Model Farm on the Ditchley Park Estate


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014708

Date first listed: 09-Apr-1951

Date of most recent amendment: 04-Oct-1995


Ordnance survey map of 1100m section of the north Oxfordshire Grim's Ditch at Model Farm on the Ditchley Park Estate
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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: Charlbury

County: Oxfordshire

District: West Oxfordshire (District Authority)

Parish: Spelsbury

National Grid Reference: SP 38173 20873


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 at Model Farm on the Ditchley Park Estate survives well as a visible earthwork along most of its length. Limited excavations of some levelled sections have confirmed the survival of archaeological and environmental remains. This is one of the longest recorded sections of Grim's Ditch. As such it provides information pertaining to the laying out of the ditch and the system of land division of which it was a part.


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


The monument includes a 1100m long section of the north Oxfordshire Grim's Ditch running broadly east to west through Model Farm on the Ditchley Park Estate. The monument survives as a clearly visible bank and ditch along the majority of this length although its western end and some of the other sections have been levelled by cultivation over the years. However, it is known from partial excavation and aerial photographs that these sections survive buried below the modern ground surface. This stretch of Grim's Ditch includes a large linear stone and earthen rampart 6.5m wide and standing up to 1.5m high in some places, with an average height of 1m. This rampart would have been topped by a wooded palisade fence c.1m high. Beyond the rampart, to the north, a 1.5m wide berm separates it from a 6.5m wide and 1.4m deep ditch. This has become infilled in places but is visible to the east of Model Farm where it has a depth of c.1m. Beyond the outer edge of the ditch at a distance of 3.75m is a 0.5m wide palisade trench 0.25m deep. This would have contained a wooden fence similar to that on the top of the bank. Although this would have had a defensive function, it was probably more useful in preventing cattle and other stock from getting into the ditch. Excluded from the scheduling are the large barn and its concrete floor pad, all lean-to structures, sheds, post and wire fences and other boundary features, although the ground beneath all of the above and the unmetalled track surfaces are included in the scheduling.

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: 21846

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Harden, D B, 'Oxoniensia' in Excavations On The North Oxfordshire Grim's Ditch 1935-6, (1939), 79 etc
PRN 8910 and supporting files, C.A.O., North Oxfordshire Grim's Ditch, (1989)
Title: 1st Edition Ordnance Survey Source Date: 1833 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: 6"
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:10000 Series Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: SP 32 SE

End of official listing