Bronze Age enclosure and linear boundary earthwork on Boscombe Down East


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017273

Date first listed: 14-Mar-2000


Ordnance survey map of Bronze Age enclosure and linear boundary earthwork on Boscombe Down East
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Allington

National Grid Reference: SU 23212 37235


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

Reasons for Designation

Since 1916 the Porton Down Range has been used for military purposes. As on the Salisbury Plain Training Area, this has meant that it has not been subject to the intensive arable farming seen elsewhere on the Wessex chalk. Porton, as a result, is one of very few surviving areas of uncultivated chalk downland in England and contains a range of well preserved archaeological sites, many of Neolithic or Bronze Age date. These include long and round barrows, flint mines, and evidence for settlement, land division and agriculture. Of the settlements, small enclosed examples of both sub-rectangular and curvilinear plan are known: the sites are wholly or partly surrounded by a ditch, bank or palisade, or by a combination or succession of all three. Where excavated, sites have usually been found to contain a small group of domestic buildings sufficient for a single or extended family group, although a few larger enclosures are known. Evidence of a succession of buildings has been found on some sites. The buildings are usually circular in plan but occasional rectangular structures are known. Both types of building would have provided a combination of living accommodation and storage or working areas. Storage pits have been recorded inside buildings on some sites but are generally rarely present. In addition to pottery and worked flint, large quantities of burnt stone and metal working debris have been found in some enclosures. Although the precise figure is not known, many small enclosed settlements are located on the chalk downland of southern England. As a class they are integral to understanding Bronze Age settlement and land use strategies, while their often close proximity to the numerous burial monuments in the area will provide insights into the relationship between secular and ceremonial activity during the Middle Bronze Age. A small number of small enclosed settlements survive on downland as visible earthworks; the majority, however, occur in areas of more intensive cultivation and survive in buried form, visible only from the air as soil and crop marks. All examples with visible earthworks, and those in buried form which retain significant surviving remains, are considered to be of national importance. The Bronze Age enclosure on Boscombe Down East is a well preserved example of its class in which the enclosure earthworks can be seen to be integrated with a later linear boundary earthwork. In addition, buried deposits within the earthwork and its interior will contain information about Middle Bronze Age economy and environment.


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


The monument includes a rectangular earthwork enclosure lying at the base of a north west facing slope on Boscombe Down East together with a 110m length of linear boundary ditch which post dates the enclosure. The enclosure was partly excavated by JFS Stone in 1935 and surveyed by the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments of England in 1991. The ditched enclosure, which was originally open on its south western side, measures a maximum of 45m (north west-south east) by 39m and encloses an area of approximately 0.13ha. The ditch now appears as a shallow depression but was shown by excavation to be 2m wide and 1.3m deep with steep sides and a flat bottom. A single original gap 1m wide can be seen on the south eastern side and Stone's excavations showed further, wider entrances on the north east (3.2m) and west (6m) sides. A post-built gate structure was identified on the inside of the north east entrance confirming that originally there was an internal bank, slight traces of which can be identified in the south west corner, but which has elsewhere been reduced in height by cultivation. Around the north west corner of the enclosure there is a broad external bank 2m wide and 0.6m high but this may possibly be the spoil heap from Stone's excavations. The excavations demonstrated that the enclosure dates to the Middle Bronze Age and may post date an area of unenclosed settlement which extends for an undefined distance beyond the south westerly limits of the enclosure. Two pits containing Beaker pottery were found about 75m from the south western corner of the enclosure. The linear ditch, part of an extensive north west-south east boundary earthwork which may extend for a total distance of over 1300m, intersects the enclosure ditch near its southern corner, effectively forming its south western side. Excavation has shown this linear ditch to be very steep-sided in profile with a flat base, 3m wide at the top and 1m wide at the bottom, and 1.2m deep. The length of ditch included within the scheduling is a 110m long section which extends 30m south east of the enclosure and 35m to the north west. Within this section it is visible as a shallow depression 0.35m deep marked by differential vegetation growth and increased animal burrowing. Beyond this, its position, indicated on aerial photographs, cannot easily be verified on the ground and is not included in the scheduling. All archaeological site markers 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.


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

Legacy System number: 26789

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
McOmish, D, An Enclosure on Boscombe Down East, (1991)
McOmish, D, An Enclosure on Boscombe Down East, (1991)
Stone, J F S, 'Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine' in An Enclosure on Boscombe Down East, (1937), 466-489
Stone, J F S, 'Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine' in An Enclosure on Boscombe Down East, (1937), 466-89

End of official listing