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Cross dyke on Mere Down, east of White Sheet Hill hillfort

List Entry Summary

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Cross dyke on Mere Down, east of White Sheet Hill hillfort

List entry Number: 1017710


The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.


District: Wiltshire

District Type: Unitary Authority

Parish: Mere

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 17-Sep-1955

Date of most recent amendment: 19-Mar-1998

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 26865

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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 on Mere Down 430m east of White Sheet Hill hillfort is a well preserved example of its class and forms an integral part of the formalised later prehistoric landscape centred on White Sheet Hill hillfort. In addition the dyke will contain archaeological remains providing evidence of prehistoric landuse and environment.


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


The monument includes an extensive cross dyke, aligned north-south, which lies on Mere Down 430m east of White Sheet Hill hillfort. The dyke extends over a distance of 620m, its northern end terminating abruptly at a point on the west facing side of a dry valley, 300m north of the Mere Down track. At its southern extremity, the earthworks of the dyke terminate more gradually on the steep slope which leads south, down into Great Bottom. The overall profile of the dyke varies considerably according to topography, with the section which lies on level ground to the south of the Mere Down track exhibiting the greatest complexity. Here the main ditch, about 5m wide, is flanked by banks on either side with two additional, but slighter, ditches and an additional low bank on its eastern side. The overall maximum width of this complex earthwork is 17.5m with a maximum height difference between the base of the main ditch and the top of the adjacent bank being 1.8m. In contrast, the best preserved section of the dyke to the north of the Mere Down track includes a 3m wide ditch and a low bank, approximately 8m wide, on its western downslope side. Small scale excavation carried out in 1990 at a point immediately north of the Mere Down track showed the ditch, which at this point survived as a buried feature, to be 3.1m wide and 1.05m deep. All fence posts are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath 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.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Rawlings, M, 'Wiltshire Arch Magazine - forthcoming' in Excavation and Survey at Whitesheet Hill, Wiltshire 1989-90, (), TBA

National Grid Reference: ST 81036 34699


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This copy shows the entry on 18-Aug-2018 at 11:43:38.

End of official listing