Cross ridge dyke 1000m south west of Higher Berry Court Cottages


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020633

Date first listed: 24-Jul-2002


Ordnance survey map of Cross ridge dyke 1000m 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 91931 20632


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 1000m south west of Higher Berry Court Cottages is one of several similar monuments in the vicinity, providing an unusual association and, despite a small part of it being partly destroyed, is a well-preserved example of its class which 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 includes a cross ridge dyke extending north east-south west across the middle slopes of a north facing spur, 1km south west of Higher Berry Court Cottages. It is one of three similar monuments in close proximity which together define an area of the ridge. One of the other two dykes forms the subject of a separate scheduling, and all three lie within the remains of a prehistoric field system. The cross ridge dyke, which is about 118m long, has two ditches with downhill banks. The upper southern ditch is `V'-shaped in profile, 5m wide and 1.4m below the upper ground level, and the upper bank is flat-topped, 6m wide and 0.8m high above the upper ditch. A bank, 1.5m wide and 0.2m high, running part way along the uphill side of this ditch may be a lynchet relating to the field system which extends to the south. The lower ditch is broader in profile, 7m wide, 1.6m deep below the upper bank and 0.6m deep below the lower bank which is 4m wide and 0.9m high. The western end of the earthwork has been truncated by a small farm track. It would originally have extended further to the west but has been destroyed by a chalk quarry, several hollow ways, and possibly the route of the Roman road from Hamworthy to Bath. The eastern end of the dyke has been disturbed by a terrace way terminating just below the edge of a steep coombe. The field system has been disturbed and levelled by ploughing, its character is unclear and it is therefore not included in the scheduling. 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: 33574

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing