Linear boundary on Bidcombe Down and Whitepits Down


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Linear boundary on Bidcombe Down and Whitepits Down
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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This copy shows the entry on 13-Oct-2019 at 21:30:23.


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

Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
Kingston Deverill
National Grid Reference:
ST 83071 38378, ST 83846 37977, ST 84435 37752, ST 84675 37626

Reasons for Designation

Linear boundaries are substantial earthwork features comprising single or multiple ditches and banks which may extend over distances varying between less than 1km to over 10km. They survive as earthworks or as linear features visible as cropmarks on aerial photographs or as a combination of both. The evidence of excavation and study of associated monuments demonstrate that their construction spans the millennium from the Middle Bronze Age, although they may have been re-used later. The scale of many linear boundaries has been taken to indicate that they were constructed by large social groups and were used to mark important boundaries in the landscape; their impressive scale displaying the corporate prestige of their builders. They would have been powerful symbols, often with religious associations, used to define and order the territorial holdings of those groups who constructed them. Linear earthworks are of considerable importance for the analysis of settlement and land use in the Bronze Age; all well preserved examples will normally merit statutory protection.

The linear boundary on Bidcombe Down and Whitepits Down survives well and is a good example of a late prehistoric linear boundary. It is one of a series of linear earthworks in this area which provide an important insight into the system of land division in the later prehistoric period.


The monument, which falls into four areas of protection, includes a length of linear boundary earthwork and a dew pond situated on the south facing slope of a ridge of Middle Chalk, encompassing Cold Kitchen Hill, Whitecliff Down and Brimsdown Hill on the northern side of the Wylye valley. The monument runs approximately ESE-WNW for 2km, rising and dipping as it crosses four coombes cut into the scarp. At the base of these coombes there are breaks, interpreted as deliberate causeways. The area to the east comprises two roughly parallel linear features each consisting of a bank flanked to the north by a ditch. The upper ditch, to the north, is 3.25m wide and 0.75m deep and the bank is 5m wide and 0.75m high. The lower ditch is 4m wide and 0.75m deep while the bank is 4.5m wide and 0.75m high. At the eastern end of this area the two linear features are separated by a distance of 120m, but as they approach the first coombe they converge. West of this coombe they are cut by a disused quarry beyond which the upper bank and ditch continue. The lower bank and ditch have been reduced by post-medieval ploughing and emerge 225m to the west, 14m south of the upper earthwork. West of this, the lower bank and ditch terminate but resume 15m further to the south of the upper bank and ditch. There is a corresponding break in the upper bank and ditch. In the base of the third coombe is a dew pond 17m square and 1.7m deep with a slight bank 0.1m high on all sides. West of Hiscombe Wood, the character of the monument changes and for a section of 223m it comprises a single ditch 2.5m wide and 0.5m deep flanked on either side by banks each 7m wide and 1.5m high. This stretch is cut by a later track as it crosses a spur of the hillside. Beyond a fifth coombe there are a series of cattle droves climbing the spur. These are not however included in the scheduling. The monument is one of a number of linear features which survive on this ridge of chalk, all of which are the subjects of seperate schedulings. The area between the bank and ditch as well as the unploughed breaks within the smaller coombes are interpreted as integral parts of the monument and are therefore included in the scheduling. All fenceposts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them 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:
Legacy System:


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

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