Linear boundary earthwork and associated field system on Cherhill Down


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018431

Date first listed: 07-Jul-1999


Ordnance survey map of Linear boundary earthwork and associated field system on Cherhill Down
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Cherhill

National Grid Reference: SU 05167 69600, SU 06176 69626


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

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 earthwork survives well and is a good example of Late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age land division. It is one of a series of linear earthworks recorded on the downs to the west of Avebury. The surviving extent of the field system is a remnant of a once common feature of the Wessex landscape; its association with the linear boundary will provide evidence for the development of land division and agricultural practices in the later prehistoric period.


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


The monument, which falls into two areas, includes a length of linear boundary earthwork situated on Cherhill Down, a northern promontory of the Marlborough Downs to the west of Avebury. The monument runs approximately east-west for a length of 2.3km and appears as a ditch up to 1.6m deep and 6m wide flanked to the south by a bank up to 1m high and 6m wide. The shorter western section of the boundary, which terminates north east of Oldbury Camp hillfort, survives in a small plantation. The boundary runs for 135m down an east facing slope into the head of a dry valley, where it has been reduced by ploughing and is visible only as a soilmark. The largest section to the east of this runs along the valley on its south facing slope. It is cut in two places by tracks running down the slope into the valley, although at both locations the buried remains of the ditch will survive. This section terminates at its eastern end at a small rise where there is a further break in the earthwork. A section to the east of this is the subject of a separate scheduling. Toward the middle of the earthwork, a small field system abuts the linear boundary on its southern side, defined by lynchets 5m wide. The fields which are interpreted as a Late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age field system run parallel to the earthwork for a length of 600m. A circular feature which crosses the earthwork is interpreted as a tree plantation ring and is not included in the scheduling in its own right, beyond the extent of the linear earthwork. The section between the two areas of protection has been reduced by ploughing and is no longer visible at ground level. It is not included in the scheduling. All fence posts 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: 31654

Legacy System: RSM


Crawford, O G S and Keiller, A, Wessex from the Air, (1928)

End of official listing