Medieval estate boundary earthwork on Shute Shelve Hill
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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This copy shows the entry on 17-Jul-2019 at 13:23:45.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- North Somerset (Unitary Authority)
- Winscombe and Sandford
- Sedgemoor (District Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- ST 42768 56077
Reasons for Designation
Early medieval and medieval land and estate boundaries took a number of forms, varying from natural markers (stones or even trees) on open ground, to massive earthworks of a defensive nature between disputed territories. Estate boundaries were non-defensive features demarcating the land of an estate from its neighbours, and included ditches, banks and hedges or a combination of these. They formed an integral part of the shaping of the landscape in early medieval times, often becoming later parish boundaries, some of which survive into modern times. As a monument type they provide a valuable insight into early medieval society and land organisation, often relating to contemporary documents, and the development of the English landscape, and any examples with upstanding earthworks are likely to be considered of national importance. The example on Shute Shelve Hill survives well, with a documentary history running from the 13th century.
The monument includes a medieval boundary earthwork on the northern end
of Shute Shelve Hill. The boundary consists of a shallow bank and ditch, the
bank being on the north side. From earliest records the feature is also
described as a road or trackway, and its line remains used as a trackway
today, the track being immediately to the south, and is a parish boundary.
The earthwork consists of a bank up to 0.5m high and 3.5m wide, and a
hollow or ditch of similar depth and width on its south side. In places there
are other hollows and banks of similar appearance, related to its use as a
This section of earthwork begins in the west above a meeting of trackways. It
runs uphill with a drystone wall alongside it, which follows it onto open
ground on the top of the hill, where it ends at the start of Callow Drove, a
medieval droveway across the hill which has been enclosed by later stone
The lower section runs in a virtually straight line up the hill, with the
modern trackway running immediately alongside it to the south. Lengths of
parallel slight hollow and bank are present in places beside the later wall.
East of this section the land opens out onto an area of heathland, again with
the boundary work and accompanying drystone wall on its north edge. At this
point, however, the ground steepens, and the feature wanders in a series of
curves up the hill. There are a number of hollow ways diverging from the
earthwork here, short-cutting the lower curve and taking alternative nearby
routes up the hill, again evidencing the use of the feature as a routeway.
To the west, the boundary continued further downhill to the present A38 main
road, but although there are a number of earthworks here in an area disturbed
by old quarrying, the actual route of the boundary earthwork is not clear.
The western end of the boundary is described in a Saxon charter of 1067, as
part of the Compton Bishop estate boundary. The charter describes the `path
uphill' and the `Rode' up Callow. The eastern stretches appear in boundary
perambulations of what had become the Royal Forest of Mendip, between 1219 and
1300, where the boundary is described as `Trenchiata' or `la Rudyngge'
(notable ditch or riding/road). Part of the boundary is also described as the
`Ridingewaye' in the boundaries of the Borough Liberties of Axbridge, copied
in 1599 from an earlier, now lost, document. The boundary remains the parish
boundary between Winscombe and Sandford and Axbridge.
At the eastern end of the earthwork, less than 100m to its south, is a
large natural boulder identified as the medieval boundary marker called the
`Donstone' in the boundaries of the Borough Liberties of Axbridge. This stone
is not included in the scheduling.
Excluded from the scheduling are modern fence posts, though the ground beneath
them is included.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
In SMR site 10061, Neale, F, (1975)
OSAD Record Card ST45NW 40, (1978)
Title: Source Date: Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Ordnance Survey Map used for previous sched. docs
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing