Iron Age and Romano-British settlement remains on Woodcutts Common, 850m south east and 845m SSE of Arundell Cottages


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020629

Date first listed: 10-Apr-1957

Date of most recent amendment: 24-Jul-2002


Ordnance survey map of Iron Age and Romano-British settlement remains on Woodcutts Common, 850m south east and 845m SSE of Arundell Cottages
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Dorset

District: East Dorset (District Authority)

Parish: Sixpenny Handley

National Grid Reference: ST 96363 18135, ST 96435 18174


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

Reasons for Designation

Cranborne Chase is an area of chalkland well known for its high number, density and diversity of archaeological remains. These include a rare combination of Neolithic and Early Bronze Age sites, comprising one of the largest concentrations of burial monuments in England, the largest known cursus (a linear ritual monument) and a significant number and range of henge monuments (Late Neolithic ceremonial centres). Other important remains include a variety of enclosures, settlements, field systems and linear boundaries which date throughout prehistory and into the Romano-British and medieval periods. This high level of survival of archaeological remains is due largely to the later history of the Chase. Cranborne Chase formed a Royal Hunting Ground from at least Norman times, and much of the archaeological survival within the area resulted from associated laws controlling land-use which applied until 1830. The unique archaeological character of the Chase has attracted much attention over the years, notably during the later 19th century, by the pioneering work on the Chase of General Pitt-Rivers, Sir Richard Colt Hoare and Edward Cunnington, often regarded as the fathers of British archaeology. Archaeological investigations have continued throughout the 20th century and to the present day.

Later Iron Age and Romano-British occupation occurred widely across Cranborne Chase and included a range of settlement types. The surviving remains comprise farmsteads, hamlets, villages and hillforts, which together demonstrate an important sequence of settlement. The non-defensive enclosed farm or homestead is the smallest and most simple of these types. There are over 50 recorded examples within the area which are thought to date to this period. Most early examples are characterised by a curvilinear enclosure with round buildings, although these are sometimes superseded by rectilinear or triangular shaped enclosures with rectilinear buildings. On Cranborne Chase, many examples were occupied over an extensive period and some grew in size and complexity. The settlement remains on Woodcutts Common survive as a series of well-preserved earthworks, as excavated and restored by General Pitt-Rivers. The settlement offers a well understood sequence with well-preserved archaeological and environmental remains. These demonstrate a significant sequence of development throughout the later prehistoric and Romano-British periods and offer an important understanding of the economic and social activities within the area during the period of occupation.


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


The monument, which falls into two areas of protection, includes settlement remains of later Iron Age and Romano-British date, situated on a gentle south west facing slope on Woodcutts Common, within the area of Cranborne Chase. The settlement lies on the eastern side of an area of field system which has been levelled by ploughing and is not included within the scheduling. The settlement site, which covers an area of about 1.6ha, comprises a series of enclosures and associated trackways. Partial excavations were conducted at the site by J H Austin in 1863 and by General Pitt-Rivers between 1884-5. These suggest the presence of a farmstead which had three main phases of development. The first, which dates to the earlier first century AD, included a roughly circular enclosure defined by an external ditch. The enclosure was served by wide entrances to the north, south and west, with at least one structure within the western area. Trackways led from the northern and southern entrances. During the later second century AD, additional enclosures were constructed to the east and west of the main enclosure. The two mounds to the north east (in the second area of protection) and north west, from which human remains were recovered, are also thought to date to this period. A third construction phase, dating to the early fourth century AD, resulted in the construction of a new enclosure partly over the sites of the earlier main and western enclosures. The new enclosure contained a well and a building with painted wattled walls and roofing slabs. This period also saw two additional enclosures constructed to the east and south east, while a third additional enclosure, known as `Church Barrow', was incorporated into the existing trackway about 150m south east of the main settlement area. The settlement includes a group of four small hypocaust corn drying sites and over 30 human burials which were widely spread over the site. The numerous finds from the excavations, which included pottery, metal work and a coin hoard, are now held at the Dorset and Wiltshire County Museums. Pitt-Rivers partly reconstructed the earthworks visible today and these earthworks reflect the excavated features rather than the remains visible prior to excavation. All fence posts and gates which relate to the modern field boundaries are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 35230

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
An Inventory of the Historical monuments of Dorset: Volume V, (1975), 68-9
An Inventory of the Historical monuments of Dorset: Volume V, (1975), 68-9
Description, RCHME (NMR),

End of official listing