A cross-ridge dyke on South Down 500m north east of Chase Barn


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020958

Date first listed: 30-Jun-1960

Date of most recent amendment: 15-Jul-2003


Ordnance survey map of A cross-ridge dyke on South Down 500m north east of Chase Barn
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This copy shows the entry on 14-Dec-2018 at 01:02:04.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Ebbesborne Wake

National Grid Reference: ST 99016 21704


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 section of the cross-ridge dyke on South Down 500m north east of Chase Barn, although surviving only partially, is one of several identified on this ridgeway providing an unusual clustering. It is a well-preserved example of its class and contains archaeological deposits which will contribute to an understanding of agricultural and social activities and the contemporary environment in the later prehistoric period.


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


The monument includes the visible remains of a cross-ridge dyke on South Down, 500m north east of Chase Barn. Originally extending north east-south west across the top of the broad ridge. The southern part of the dyke has now been largely levelled by ploughing and, as it is no longer visible, has not been included in the scheduling. The earthwork was noted by Aubrey in about 1697 and noted on Colt Hoare's map of the area published in 1812. Heywood Sumner made a plan of it in 1911 and even at this time the southern section was recorded only as a vague and intermittent ditch. The section of the cross dyke included in the scheduling extends for about 184m from the northern edge of the ridge, with a ditch 4m wide between two banks. The western bank is 5m wide, up to 0.5m high externally and 1.5m above the base of the ditch, while the eastern bank is 3.5m wide and up to 0.4m high externally and 0.75m above the base of the ditch. The earthworks are truncated in two places: by the Ox Drove running east-west along the top of the ridge, and further north, by an old trackway. All fence and gate posts, and the surface of the track 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: 35387

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Colt Hoare, R, The Ancient History of Wiltshire: Volume I, (1812), 236-7
Sumner, H, The Ancient Earthworks of Cranborne Chase, (1913), 64-65

End of official listing