Cross dyke 480m and 690m NNW of Fontmell Hill House


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019028

Date first listed: 12-Jul-1961

Date of most recent amendment: 24-Sep-1999


Ordnance survey map of Cross dyke 480m and 690m NNW of Fontmell Hill House
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Dorset

District: North Dorset (District Authority)

Parish: Fontmell Magna

National Grid Reference: ST 88575 17527, ST 88965 17317


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 480m and 690m NNW of Fontmell Hill House is a well preserved example of its class and will contain archaeological remains providing information about later prehistoric land use and environment. The reuse of the monument as a boundary of Cranborne Chase is also notable. This is one of five cross dykes in close proximity at the end of the escarpment, providing an unusual and significant association.


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


The monument includes, in two separate areas, a cross dyke, known as Tennerley Ditch, extending north west-south east across a ridge, 480m and 690m NNW of Fontmell Hill House. It is one of five similar monuments at the end of the escarpment, the remainder of which are the subject of separate schedulings. The earthworks are located to the east and the west of the Shaftesbury to Blandford Road. In his book `The ancient earthworks of Cranborne Chase', published in 1913, Heywood Sumner notes that Thomas Aldwell suggested in 1618 that this earthwork was reused to mark the inner boundary of The Chase at this point. The eastern section of the cross dyke extends for about 320m from the brow of the ridge down an eastward facing slope, and has a bank up to 6m wide and 0.7m high with a ditch on its northern side, 2.5m wide and 0.5m deep. It has been truncated in places by woodland tracks and banks. The western section, extending for approximately 190m from the brow of the hill and fading out on a steep slope, has a bank, up to 8m wide and 1m high, with a ditch on the northern side, up to 3.5m wide and 1m high, and has been truncated by a track. It is not clear if the cross dyke originally extended fully across the ridge between the two sections of surviving earthwork as this area has been partly disturbed by the main road. Limited excavation in 1995 by the side of the road, on the extrapolated line of the cross dyke, showed no evidence for its presence in this area, perhaps suggesting an original gap. Due to later disturbance and the uncertainty about the existence of a buried earthwork in this area, the central section has not been included in the scheduling. All fence and gate 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: 31068

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Sumner, H, The Ancient Earthworks of Cranborne Chase, (1988), 67
Manuscript report, Valentin, J , C13 improvement & Melbury Abbas bypass Environmental Statement, (1995)

End of official listing