Park pale in Rampisham park


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020184

Date first listed: 20-Feb-1975

Date of most recent amendment: 11-Feb-2002


Ordnance survey map of Park pale in Rampisham park
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This copy shows the entry on 11-Dec-2018 at 16:38:51.


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

County: Dorset

District: West Dorset (District Authority)

Parish: Rampisham

National Grid Reference: ST 54926 01843, ST 55406 02396, ST 55737 01375


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

Reasons for Designation

Deer parks were areas of land, usually enclosed, set aside and equipped for the management and hunting of deer and other animals. They were generally located in open countryside on marginal land or adjacent to a manor house, castle or palace. They varied in size between 3ha and 1600ha and usually comprised a combination of woodland and grassland which provided a mixture of cover and grazing for deer. Parks could contain a number of features, including hunting lodges (often moated), a park-keeper's house, rabbit warrens, fishponds and enclosures for game, and were usually surrounded by a park pale, a massive fenced or hedged bank often with an internal ditch. Although a small number of parks may have been established in the Anglo-Saxon period, it was the Norman aristocracy's taste for hunting that led to the majority being constructed. The peak period for the laying-out of parks, between AD 1200 and 1350, coincided with a time of considerable prosperity amongst the nobility. From the 15th century onwards few parks were constructed and by the end of the 17th century the deer park in its original form had largely disappeared. The original number of deer parks nationally is unknown but probably exceeded 3000. Many of these survive today, although often altered to a greater or lesser degree. They were established in virtually every county in England, but are most numerous in the West Midlands and Home Counties. Deer parks were a long-lived and widespread monument type. Today they serve to illustrate an important aspect of the activities of medieval nobility and still exert a powerful influence on the pattern of the modern landscape. Where a deer park survives well and is well-documented or associated with other significant remains, its principal features are normally identified as nationally important.

The park pale in Rampisham Park survives as a well-preserved earthwork around parts of the original circuit and will contain archaeological and environmental information relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed.


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


The monument, which falls into three separate areas of protection, includes three surviving stretches of the park pale or boundary bank and ditch of the medieval deer park at Rampishanm. The deer park enclosed an area of about 101ha and occupies the northern slopes of a chalk ridge and two valleys. The earliest documentary reference to the deer park dates to 1299 when it was in private ownership, although by 1437 it had passed to the Crown. Various documentary references dating to 1317, 1319, 1485 and 1486 relate to the deer park. The last known documentary reference to it dates to 1530. A list of Dorset parks compiled in 1583 does not mention the site and it is thought to have been `disparked' prior to this time. A documentary review and ground survey of the deer park was conducted by Cantor and Wilson prior to 1963. The park pale now survives as a discontinuous earthwork. This includes a bank up to 1.3m high and 6m wide with an internal ditch 2m wide and 0.5m deep along the western and north eastern sides of the deer park. To the south west the boundary is marked by a scarp 1.2m high, with slight traces of an internal ditch. Its course is further reflected in the pattern of later features such as field boundaries and the course of the boundary bank which divides the parishes of Rampisham and Wraxall. The park pale does not survive as an upstanding feature within the south west, north west and mid-eastern areas of the deer park. To the north west, the boundary is likely to have run along the course of a stream; a slight bank recorded here in 1963 is no longer visible. A possible enclosure was suggested by Cantor and Wilson within the area to the east of the deer park. This was identified largely from the pattern of field boundaries, but does not survive as an earthwork. The character and date of this possible enclosure are uncertain and its relationship with the deer park unproven; it is not, therefore included within the scheduling. Within the eastern area of the park, a group of earthworks were identified in 1963 which could have represented settlement remains, or activity relating to deer husbandry, although these have since been reduced and are not included within the scheduling. Excluded from the scheduling are all gates and fence posts relating to the modern field boundaries, all cattle troughs and the collection chambers which serve the land drains, 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: 33552

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Cantor, L M, Wilson, J M, 'Proceedings of the Dorset Nat Hist and Archaeology Soc' in Medieval Deer Parks of Dorset lll, , Vol. 85, (1963), 148-151

End of official listing