Linear boundary and section of Roman road, 550m south east of Ashmore Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Date first listed:
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Ordnance survey map of Linear boundary and section of Roman road, 550m south east of Ashmore Farm
© 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.

Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
Tollard Royal
North Dorset (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
ST 92246 17026

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.

Roman roads were artificially made-up routes introduced to Britain by the Roman army from AD 43. They facilitated both the conquest of the province and its subsequent administration. Their main purpose was to serve the Cursus Publicus, or Imperial mail service. Express messengers could travel up to 150 miles per day on the network of Roman roads throughout Britain and Europe, changing horses at wayside `mutationes' (posting stations set every 8 miles on major roads) and stopping overnight at `mansiones' (rest houses located every 20-25 miles). In addition, throughtout the Roman period and later, Roman roads acted as commercial routes and became foci for settlement and industry. Mausolea were sometimes built flanking roads during the Roman period while, in the Anglian and medieval periods, Roman roads often served as property boundaries. Although a number of roads fell out of use soon after the withdrawal of Rome from the province in the fifth century AD, many have continued in use down to the present day and are consequently sealed beneath modern roads. On the basis of construction technique, two main types of Roman road are distinguishable. The first has widely spaced boundary ditches and a broad elaborate agger comprising several layers of graded materials. The second usually has drainage ditches and a narrow simple agger of two or three successive layers. In addition to ditches and construction pits flanking the sides of the road, features of Roman roads can include central stone ribs, kerbs and culverts, not all of which will necessarily be contemporary with the original construction of the road. With the exception of the extreme south west of the country, Roman roads can include central stone ribs, kerbs and culverts, not all of which will necessarily be contemporary with the original construction of the road. With the exception of the extreme south-west of the country, Roman roads are widely distributed throughout England and extend into Wales and lowland Scotland. They are highly representative of the period of Roman administration and provide important evidence of Roman civil engineering skills as well as the pattern of Roman conquest and settlement. A high proportion of examples exhibiting good survival are considered to be worthy of protection. The linear boundary and the section of Roman road 550m south east of Ashmore Farm are well-preserved examples of their class. The linear boundary is one of two sections which may be part of the same boundary extending over a distance of about 2.2km. It will contain archaeological deposits providing information relating to later prehistoric land use and environment. The section of Roman road cutting through the linear boundary is one of few well-preserved stretches of the road from Badbury to Bath. It will contain archaeological deposits providing information about Roman road construction, settlement patterns and the contemporary environment. The intersection between the boundary and the road provides important dating evidence.


The monument includes a linear boundary extending from south west to north east for about 700m across a spur and dry valley on Cranborne Chase. The linear boundary is truncated by the Roman road from Badbury to Bath which survives as an earthwork, aligned north west by south east. The boundary earthwork has a ditch visible as a depression 6m wide and up to 0.5m deep, with a bank 9m wide and up to 0.8m high, on its south eastern side. It is well-preserved in woodland at the south western and north eastern ends but has been in part eroded by ploughing in the central area. It has been truncated by a trackway following the county boundary between Dorset and Wiltshire at the bottom of a dry valley near the eastern end of the monument. The Ordnance Survey recorded in 1954 that the earthwork may have continued for about 100m beyond the edge of the scheduling to the south west, although in fragmentary and mutilated form; this area is disturbed by a track and the earthwork is no longer visible on the ground. Similarly the earthwork may extend beyond the north eastern end of the scheduling but this cannot be confirmed at present because of dense vegetation. Neither of these two areas has been included in the scheduling. Sections of a similar linear boundary earthwork 1.05km to the south east are thought to be part of the same feature and are the subject of separate scheduling. In the intervening area the linear boundary has not been positively identified either on the ground or on aerial photographs. Halfway along its length the boundary earthwork has been truncated by the Roman road which extends for 120m as a visible earthwork to the south east. It has an agger, 8m wide and 0.6m high, and is flanked by a ditch on each side of it, visible as depressions in places, 3m wide and 0.3m deep. Ploughing over the years has exposed the stoney structure of the agger. Other sections of the road, 300m to the north west and 1.4km to the south east, are the subect of separate schedulings. All fence posts 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.

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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.

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