The Lower Short Ditch


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


Ordnance survey map of The Lower Short Ditch
© 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.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Powys - Powys (Unitary Authority)
Kerry Community
Shropshire (Unitary Authority)
Shropshire (Unitary Authority)
Newcastle on Clun
National Grid Reference:
SO 22289 88215

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 earthwork bank and ditches of the Lower Short Ditch are generally regarded as dating to the early medieval period, forming a reinforcement of the defensive function of Offa's Dyke which runs down the border between England and Wales about 2km to the east. The remains are in good condition and well-defined even at the terminals where they would be subject to erosion by livestock and landslip. The Dyke is accessable to the public and highly visible in open moorland and so will provide a source for education and recreational enjoyment for the community. The soils beneath the bank and in the infill of the ditches will preserve evidence for the landscape at the time of the construction of the earthworks and their abandonment.


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a linear boundary or dyke, known as the Lower Short Ditch. It has been linked with the Upper Short Ditch which lies 3.5km to the west of this boundary, in Wales, and seems to have been designed to bar access into territory to the east via an important early trackway known as the Kerry Ridgeway. The Lower Short Ditch straddles the English/Welsh border. This monument includes only the English section. The section within Wales is protected separately. Both dykes have also been linked to Offa's Dyke, the 8th century Anglo-Saxon defensive earthwork, which is crossed by the Ridgeway at a point 4.5km to the east of the Lower Short Ditch. If the two Short Ditches were designed to prevent British (Welsh) incursions into the territory of the Anglo-Saxons, then the earthwork defenses may pre-date the construction of Offa's Dyke.

The Ditch includes an earthwork bank, on average 1.4m high and 12m wide at the base, with a ditch immediately to the west, 5m wide and about 1.2m deep. On the east side is a smaller ditch, up to 3m wide and 0.3m deep. It runs for 710m from north to south, linking two steep sided natural declivities which plunge down off the crest of the Kerry Ridge. At either end there is a clear terminal to the bank, with the western ditch continuing down the steep slopes for several metres. This would have effectively sealed off any traffic from west to east at this point. The current boundary between England and Wales runs along the course of the Kerry Ridgeway and has cut the Ditch at the north end, leaving 40m of the defensive earthwork in Wales.

Within the recent past a metalled roadway has been constructed along the top of the bank for the northern two thirds of the monument, linking the track which cuts the Ditch at the south eastern corner of Square Plantation to the Kerry Ridgeway.

The metalled surfaces of the roadway and the Kerry Ridgeway and the track which cuts the Ditch at the south eastern corner of the Square Plantation 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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Noble, F, Offa's Dyke, (1983), 79-83


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

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