Iron Age and Romano-British settlement remains on Rotherley Down


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020963

Date first listed: 10-Apr-1957

Date of most recent amendment: 15-Jul-2003


Ordnance survey map of Iron Age and Romano-British settlement remains on Rotherley Down
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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This copy shows the entry on 17-Dec-2018 at 13:02:46.


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 94949 19540


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. Later Iron Age and Romano-British occupation occurred widely across Cranborne Chase and included a range of settlement types. The surviving remains comprise farmsteads, hamlets, villages and hillforts, which together demonstrate an important sequence of settlement. The non-defensive enclosed farm or homestead represents the smallest and most simple of these types. There are over 50 recorded examples within the area which are thought to date to this later Iron Age and Romano-British period. Most early examples are characterised by a curvilinear enclosure with round buildings, although these are sometimes superseded by rectilinear or triangular shaped enclosures with rectilinear buildings. On Cranborne Chase, many examples were occupied over an extended period and some grew in size and complexity.

The settlement remains on Rotherley Down survive as a series of well-preserved earthworks, as excavated and restored by General Pitt-Rivers. The settlement offers a well-understood sequence with well-preserved archaeological and environmental remains. These demonstrate a significant sequence of development throughout the later prehistoric and Romano-British periods and will contribute to an understanding of the economic and social activities within the area during the period of occupation.


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


The monument includes settlement remains of later Iron Age and Romano-British date on the brow of a hill at Rotherley Down within Cranborne Chase. The settlement site, which covers an area of about 2ha, comprises a series of enclosures and lies within a field system, approached by a trackway from the south east. Excavations carried out by General Pitt-Rivers from 1885-86 indicated that occupation continued without break from the first century BC until the third century AD. At the centre of the site lies a large circular enclosure, defined by a bank and a ditch, containing storage pits and four-post granary structures. Surrounding this are further banks and ditches, defining fields and enclosures, storage pits, the remains of two or three houses, and several inhumation burials. During the period of Roman occupation, several features were added. These include a corn drying oven, working hollows, a large rectangular building, a variety of pits, a stock enclosure situated outside the main enclosure and a number of burials likely to belong to this period. Evidence of earlier occupation of the hilltop includes Neolithic and Bronze Age stone and flint implements and a Bronze Age burial which contained a crouched skeleton with a Beaker pot at its feet. Pitt-Rivers partly reconstructed the earthworks which are visible today. These reflect the excavated features and an inscribed stone plinth at the centre of the site was erected by the General to record his discoveries. This is included in the scheduling. All fence posts, gate posts and water troughs 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: 35381

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Pitt-Rivers, LG, Excavations in Cranborne Chase, (1888), 50, 56
Pitt-Rivers, LG, Excavations in Cranborne Chase, (1888), 51-231

End of official listing