Chiselbury Camp hillfort, cross dykes and site of turnpike toll house


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Chiselbury Camp hillfort, cross dykes and site of turnpike toll house
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1020262 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 22-Oct-2019 at 15:59:10.


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

Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
Broad Chalke
Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SU 01826 28122

Reasons for Designation

Large univallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying shape, ranging in size between 1ha and 10ha, located on hilltops and surrounded by a single boundary comprising earthworks of massive proportions. They date to the Iron Age period, most having been constructed and used between the fourth century BC and the first century AD, although evidence for earlier use is present at most sites. The size of the earthworks reflects the ability of certain social groups to mobilise the labour necessary for works on such a monumental scale, and their function may have had as much to do with display as defence. Large univallate hillforts are also seen as centres of redistribution, both for subsistence products and items produced by craftsmen. The ramparts are of massive proportions except in locations where steepness of slope precludes easy access. They can vary between 6m and 20m wide and may survive to a height of 6m. The ditches can measure between 6m and 13m wide and between 3m and 5m deep. Access to the interior is generally provided by one or two entrances which often take the form of long passages formed by inturned ramparts and originally closed by a gate located towards the inner end of the passageway. The entrance may be flanked by guardrooms and/or accompanied by outworks. Internal features included timber or stone round houses; large storage pits and hearths; scattered postholes, stakeholes and gullies; and square or rectangular buildings supported by four to six posts, often represented by postholes, and interpreted as raised granaries. Large univallate hillforts are rare with between 50 and 100 examples recorded nationally. Most are located within southern England where they occur on the chalklands of Wessex, Sussex and Kent. The western edge of the distribution is marked by scattered examples in north Somerset and east Devon, while further examples occur in central and western England and outliers further north. Within this distribution considerable regional variation is apparent, both in their size, rampart structure and the presence or absence of individual components. In view of the rarity of large univallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the organisation and regional structure of Iron Age society, all examples with surviving archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance.

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 reused 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 later prehistoric period. Few have survived to the present day and hence all well-preserved examples are considered to be of national importance.

Turnpikes, roads kept up by contributions or tolls collected from users, began in 1663 and by 1800 there were some 1100 turnpike trusts controlling 23,000 miles of roads. However, during the 19th century turnpikes were eclipsed by canals and railways as the principal arterial routes, and the last trust was dissolved in 1895. Toll houses were constructed at points adjacent to the road which enjoyed good views in either direction, enabling the tollkeeper to see traffic coming and open the gate adjoining the house, for which a fee was charged. In 1840 there were about 8000 toll houses in England, with many subsequently being adapted or reused as dwellings or commercial properties or their sites obscured by later development. The earthwork remains of the toll house adjacent to Chiselbury Camp, which appear to have remained undisturbed since their abandonment, therefore represent an unusually rare and complete survival. The hillfort, cross dykes and the remains of the site of the toll house all survive well as either substantial earthworks or buried features. The old land surface beneath the hillfort ramparts and the fills of both the hillfort ditch and the cross dykes will preserve environmental deposits relating to the landscape in which the monument was constructed and used.


The monument includes a large univallate hillfort known as Chiselbury Camp, two cross dykes and the earthwork remains of an adjacent toll house which are situated astride a prominent chalk ridge overlooking the Nadder valley to the north and the Ebble valley to the south. The hillfort is sub-circular in plan, encloses an area of approximately 3.4ha and is defined by an earthen rampart up to 3.6m in height and an external ditch which is a maximum of 1.6m in depth. A gap in the south eastern side of the rampart and a corresponding causeway across the ditch may represent the original entrance and are associated with a small `D'-shaped embanked enclosure which was clearly visible on aerial photographs taken in the 1920s. Although the enclosure has subsequently been degraded by ploughing it is still apparent as a series of low earthworks. Limited archaeological investigation of the interior of the hillfort in the early 20th century failed to find any traces of occupation, although Iron Age pottery and a lead spindle whorl were found immediately outside it and two Roman coins, one of which dated to the reign of Emperor Constantine I, were said to have been found within the central area. An Iron Age sword and scabbard were also found on the nearby trackway which runs along the ridge top. The hillfort was abutted on both its northern and southern sides by embanked ditches or cross dykes. Their precise function is unknown but the manner in which they cut the ridge suggests that they were intended to prevent movement along it. The northern cross dyke, 90m in length, ran from the ditch of the hillfort across the top of the ridge before continuing part way down its northern slopes. Although visible in 1928, the section between the hillfort and the edge of the ridge has subsequently been infilled by ploughing but survives as a buried feature. The southern cross dyke, which survives as a discontinuous series of banks and ditches, sections of which are filled in but survive as buried features, was a total of 180m in length and ran SSE from the `D'-shaped enclosure down the southern slope of the ridge into the base of a valley. An aerial photograph dated to 1928 clearly shows the southern cross dyke continuing as a buried feature beneath a trackway which runs along the ridge top, indicating that the trackway came into use after the cross dyke was constructed. An Anglo-Saxon charter also mentions `the ridgeway' suggesting that the trackway was in use by at least the early medieval period. Referred to as the `Ten Mile Course' by Dr Stukeley in 1776, in the medieval and post- medieval periods the trackway was the main route from Wilton to Shaftesbury. By the 18th century it had become a turnpike road and a map dated to 1773 depicts a toll house immediately south of it. The remains of this structure are visible today as a series of earthworks representing a building platform with a small enclosure immediately to its east. All fences, gates, signboards and stiles are excluded from the scheduling, 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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Colt Hoare, R, The Ancient History of Wiltshire: Volume I, (1812), 217,249
Sumner, H, The Ancient Earthworks of Cranborne Chase, (1913), 25
Fowler, P J, 'Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine' in Cross-Dykes of the Ebble-Nadder Ridge, (1964), 46-57
Fowler, P J, 'Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine' in Cross-Dykes of the Ebble-Nadder Ridge, (1964), 46-57
Crawford, O G S and Keiller, A, Wessex from the Air, (1928)
Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, SU 02 NW 2,
Title: Andrews and Dury's Map of Wiltshire Source Date: 1773 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Wiltshire County Council, SU 02 NW 202,
Wiltshire County Council, SU 02 NW 621,
Wiltshire County Council, SU 02 NW 636,


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 Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].