Cross ridge dyke on Charlton Down, 1250m and 1350m south west of Higher Berry Court Cottages


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020632

Date first listed: 15-Jul-1955

Date of most recent amendment: 24-Jul-2002


Ordnance survey map of Cross ridge dyke on Charlton Down, 1250m and 1350m south west of Higher Berry Court Cottages
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Donhead St. Mary

National Grid Reference: ST 91765 20377, ST 91868 20183


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. Cross ridge dykes are substantial linear earthworks typically between 0.2km long and 1km long 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 a combination 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 ridge dykes occur across Cranborne Chase and 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 examples have survived to the present day nationally and all well-preserved examples are considered to be of national importance. The number of well-preserved examples within Cranborne Chase is particularly notable.

The cross ridge dyke on Charlton Down 1250m and 1350m south west of Higher Berry Court Cottages is one of several similar monuments surviving in the vicinity, providing an unusual association. Despite relatively recent disturbance, it represents a well-preserved example of its class and will preserve archaeological remains providing information about later prehistoric land use and environment.


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


The monument, which falls into two separate areas of protection, includes a cross ridge dyke on Charlton Down 1250m and 1350m south west of Higher Berry Court Cottages, running north west-south east across a slight dip on a narrow ridge between the heads of two deep coombes. It is one of three similar monuments in close proximity which together definine an area of the ridge. One of the other two cross ridge dykes forms the subject of a separate scheduling, and all three lie within the remnants of a prehistoric field system. The cross ridge dyke extends for about 365m, and includes a steep-sided ditch, 6.5m wide and up to 2.5m deep flanked by a bank on either side. The bank on the south western side is 8m wide and up to 1.4m high and that on the north western side is 5m wide and up to 1m high. The earthwork is more substantial on the top of the ridge, becoming slighter at each end, where the ditch extends for a short distance beyond the the banks. The cross dyke is truncated in two places. On the crest of the ridge, a 40m gap is now occupied by a modern tarmac road and a track, but previously the ox droves which ran along the ridgeway and the Roman road from Hamworthy to Bath passed through here. Further south, the banks have been levelled, creating a 15m gap through which a track passes. The buried ditch will survive in this area however. A rectangular depression, 6m by 4m, in the middle of the south western bank near the southern end of the earthwork may indicate a former excavation. The northern part of the cross ridge dyke lies within a prehistoric field system which has been disturbed and is not clearly defined, although two lynchets, about 45m apart, running north east-south west are visible joining the south western bank. The field system itself is not included in the scheduling, although parts of the two lynchets are included where they join the western side of the cross ridge dyke. All fence posts 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: 33573

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing