Two cross ridge dykes 710m and 790m east of Wellhead Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020372

Date first listed: 15-Oct-1976

Date of most recent amendment: 24-Nov-2000


Ordnance survey map of Two cross ridge dykes 710m and 790m east of Wellhead Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Westbury

National Grid Reference: ST 87669 49594, ST 87739 49570


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 two cross ridge dykes 710m and 790m east of Wellhead Farm on the eastern spur of Upton Cow Down are well-preserved, almost complete examples which provide an important insight into the division of land in the late prehistoric period and in particular, the farming activities of prehistoric communities on the high chalk downland. The earthworks will contain archaeological and environmental information which relates to the people who built them and the landscape in which they lived.


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


The monument, which falls into two areas of protection, includes two cross ridge dykes, situated 710m and 790m east of Wellhead Farm on the eastern edge of Upton Cow Down, an area of elevated chalk downland forming the western edge of Salisbury Plain. The earthworks cross a spur of Middle Chalk which protrudes slightly from the scarp above a small wood known as White Scar Hanging. From this location there are impressive views over the West Wiltshire clay vale. The shorter of the two earthworks comprises a bank flanked to the west by a ditch running approximately NNE-SSW across a narrow section of the spur. The ditch is 0.9m deep and 5.6m wide and the bank is 0.7m high and 11.9m wide. The entire length of the earthwork is 40m. To the north east it ends at a small hollow way running down the scarp to the west while to the south it ends at the top of the steep south facing scarp. The larger earthwork crosses a wider section of the spur 70m to the east, curving slightly to the west but with the same general orientation. It is in two sections with a break towards the northern end. The southern section which is 96m long comprises a ditch which is 1.4m deep and up to 8.4m wide flanked on either side by a bank. The larger bank, to the west is up to 0.8m high and 6.1m wide. The bank to the east is 3m wide and up to 0.3m high, but absent in places. This section runs across the slope. The northern section runs down the slope for a length of 40m and terminates at a hollow way to the north. Here the ditch is 0.3m deep and the bank to the west is 0.2m high. The earthworks were visited and recorded by the antiquarian, Sir Richard Colt- Hoare in the early 19th century.

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: 33526

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Colt Hoare, R, The Ancient History of Wiltshire: Volume I, (1812), 50

End of official listing