The Carrion Tree Rack:a linear boundary in Rushmore Park, south west, south and north east of Park Cottage


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020727

Date first listed: 10-Apr-1957

Date of most recent amendment: 23-Apr-2003


Ordnance survey map of The Carrion Tree Rack:a linear boundary in Rushmore Park, south west, south and north east of Park Cottage
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Berwick St. John

National Grid Reference: ST 95287 18681, ST 95622 18820, ST 95960 19159


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. Linear boundaries are substantial earthwork features comprising single or multiple ditches and banks which may extend over distances varying between less than 1km to over 10km. They survive as earthworks or as linear features visible as cropmarks on aerial photographs, or as a combination of both. The evidence of excavation and study of associated monuments demonstrate that their construction spans the millennium from the Middle Bronze Age, although they may have been reused later. The scale of many linear boundaries has been taken to indicate that they were constructed by large social groups and were used to mark important boundaries in the landscape, their impressive scale displaying the corporate prestige of their builders. They would have been powerful symbols, often with religious associations, used to define and order the territorial holdings of the groups responsible for their construction. Linear earthworks occur quite widely across parts of Cranborne Chase and together, these are of considerable importance for the analysis of settlement and land use in the Bronze Age. All well-preserved examples are, therefore, considered to be of national importance and will merit statutory protection.

The linear boundary known as Carrion Tree Rack, in Rushmore Park, south west, south and north east of Park Cottage lies within Cranborne Chase and is a well-preserved example of its class. It is known to contain archaeological deposits providing information relating to later prehistoric and Romano-British land use and environment.


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


The monument, which falls into three separate areas of protection, includes three sections of a linear boundary known as the Carrion Tree Rack. The monument lies to the south west, south and north east of Park Cottage on Cranborne Chase and extends from the Cuttice Bottom in the west, up a steep slope, and diagonally across the level top of the ridge. At its eastern end, the earthwork turns a right angle to the north along the contour above the break in slope. Between 1882 and 1884 Pitt-Rivers excavated three sections through the earthwork, immediately to the south of Park Cottage and at the eastern end in Shiftway Coppice. His plan of the eastern end shows a gap of about 10m, with a further length (30m) of bank and ditch beyond this which is now covered in dense vegetation and is no longer clearly visible. The linear boundary has a ditch 3m wide and up to 0.5m deep, with a bank, 6m wide and 0.5m high, on its southern or eastern side. On the steep slope at the western end there are two banks flanking the ditch, both 6m wide and 0.5m high. The 19th century excavation produced sherds of Romano-British pottery in the primary ditch fill and beneath the bank. To the east of Park Cottage, in an area just beyond the end of the visible earthworks, three pits were found on the line of the bank and ditch suggesting that the linear boundary may have been aligned on existing features. There was no evidence found for the ditch continuing, which could suggest that the earthwork was originally discontinuous. The pits were found to be Iron Age storage pits and one contained an inhumation burial. Both Pitt-Rivers and Grinsell, writing in the Victoria County History in 1957, thought that the linear earthwork was at least partly defensive, but its general location suggests that it may be part of a trackway and an extensive boundary ditch. There are low, poorly-defined earthworks on the northern side of the central section of the ditch which may be part of a field system or settlement site; their relationship to the linear feature is not clear and, as their date and character cannot be determined on present evidence, they are not included in the scheduling. All fence posts and track surfaces are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them 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: 33565

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Fox Pitt Rivers, A H L, Excavations in Cranborne Chase, (1887), 25
Grinsell, L V, The Victoria History of the County of Wiltshire, (1957), 39-40

End of official listing