Cross dyke 720m west of Cheesefoot Head


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020320

Date first listed: 11-Dec-2001


Ordnance survey map of Cross dyke 720m west of Cheesefoot Head
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Hampshire

District: Winchester (District Authority)

Parish: Chilcomb

County: Hampshire

District: Winchester (District Authority)

Parish: Owslebury

National Park: SOUTH DOWNS

National Grid Reference: SU 52415 27843


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 section of cross dyke 720m west of Cheesefoot Head survives well and can be expected to retain archaeological deposits associated with the original construction and use of the cross dyke and the associated field system, including the original ground surface and environmental remains. Its strategic obstruction of the South Downs ridgeway, and its close association with aerial photographic evidence of contemporary field systems on the surrounding downlands, demonstrates its potential importance for our understanding of how community boundaries were constructed during the Bronze Age period.


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


The monument includes a 170m length of a cross dyke of probable Middle to Late Bronze Age date (1500-700 BC) situated on a high chalk ridge between Telegraph Hill and Cheesefoot Head, overlooking St Catherine's Hill, the city of Winchester and the Itchen Navigation to the west. The cross dyke is located at a natural constriction in the ridge between two steep-sided hollows, immediately east of which the broad chalk spur of Fawley Down projects to the south. The northern part of the ridge has been heavily ploughed and the monument survives only to the south of the South Downs Way. Here it forms a substantial, north-south earthen bank, 6m-8m wide and 1m-1.5m high, flanked to the east by a ditch, 5m-6m wide and up to 1m deep. In this form it extends south for 30m onto Fawley Down where it continues for a further 60m to the SSW along the western brow of the down. The monument then doglegs sharply to the west, possibly skirting an earlier field system, before continuing in a reduced form for a further 80m along the flank of the spur. Both the bank and ditch become relatively slight until they are replaced by a slightly hollowed terrace, 5m wide, which ends abruptly at a squared-off terminal. At its northern end the monument would have effectively restricted access along the main ridge and onto Fawley Down. Beyond the dogleg to the south, the monument may have doubled as a field boundary associated with cropmark evidence of contemporary field systems on the surrounding downs. The fences and fence posts located on the monument 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: 34143

Legacy System: RSM


Williams-Freeman, J P, The Williams-Freeman mss, unpublished ms at Winchester Museum

End of official listing