Buckinghamshire Grim's Ditch: 580m long section between Lily Bottom Lane and Redland End
List Entry Summary
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 Culture, Media and Sport.
Name: Buckinghamshire Grim's Ditch: 580m long section between Lily Bottom Lane and Redland End
List entry Number: 1021194
The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District Type: District Authority
Parish: Great and Little Hampden
National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.
Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.
Date first scheduled: 19-Aug-1936
Date of most recent amendment: 24-Feb-2004
Legacy System Information
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System: RSM
This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.
List entry Description
Summary of Monument
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
Reasons for Designation
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 those
groups who constructed them. Linear earthworks are of considerable importance
for the analysis of settlement and land use in the Bronze Age; all well-
preserved examples will normally merit statutory protection.
The boundary known as the Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire Grim's Ditch includes numerous surviving sections from within three main linear earthworks aligned along the Chiltern Hills between Bradenham and Berkhamsted and spanning a total distance of 18km. It does not appear that these principal sections were ever joined to form a continuous boundary. Current evidence suggests that the sometimes quite sizeable gaps represent areas which were formerly forested or in which natural features served to perpetuate a division of the land. The same pattern has been discerned along the North Oxfordshire Grim's Ditch, to the west of the Thames. A further comparable linear boundary, the Moel Dyke, extends to the east across parts of neighbouring Bedfordshire. For the most part the visible sections of Grim's Ditch in the Chilterns include a wide single ditch flanked by a bank of upcast earth, which is always upslope of the ditch. Other features, discovered by limited excavations, include a turf core within the bank, a berm separating the bank and ditch (concealed over time by the spread of bank material) and a trench, for a fence or palisade along the outer rim of the ditch. The Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire Grim's Ditch is thought to have served as a territorial boundary, separating, and perhaps enclosing, organised groups of land and settlement. It may also have been an agricultural boundary denoting grazing areas and impeding the movement (or theft) of stock. Excavations to date have provided only limited dating evidence. Pottery recovered from the fill of the ditch indicates that it was in existence in the Iron Age. As such the boundary provides important evidence for the management of the landscape in the centuries preceding the Roman Conquest in AD 43, although it may have a considerably earlier origin. It remained a notable feature in later centuries, acquiring its present name (a variation on the name of the god, Odin) at some point in the early medieval period, perhaps during the period of pagan Saxon settlement in the 5th and 6th centuries. The earliest recorded use of the term `Grim's Ditch' occurs in a charter granted by Edward, Earl of Cornwall in 1291. All sections of the Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire Grim's Ditch which survive in visible form or as well-preserved buried remains (identified by aerial photography or ground survey) are considered integral to a general understanding of the monument and will normally merit statutory protection. The section of Grim's Ditch between Lily Bottom Lane and Redlands End survives as a substantial earthwork along most of its length and provides a fascinating insight into the nature of early territorial land division in the Chiltern Hills. It will contain archaeological evidence for the manner of its construction as well as environmental evidence for the appearance of the landscape in which it was built. The archaeological evidence may also include artefacts or scientific dating material from which to determine the period of its construction and the duration of its maintenance as an active boundary.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument includes a 580m long section of a prehistoric boundary known as
the Buckinghamshire Grim's Ditch located on high ground to the south east of
Princes Risborough and running broadly south west to north east through
Hillock Field Plantation and the south end of Hillock Wood, between Lily
Bottom Lane and Redland End.
The section of the Grim's Ditch survives as a substantial earthwork along
most of its length. The earthen bank measures up to 8m wide and stands up
to 0.9m high. To the east of the bank lies a parallel ditch, up to 8m wide
and up to 1.2m in depth. Excavations along other sections of Grim's Ditch,
carried out in 1973 and 1991, produced evidence of a level area, or berm,
separating the bank and ditch. A palisade trench, which would have
supported a wooden fence, was also found along the outer edge of the
ditch. Similar components may survive as buried features along this
particular section of the Grim's Ditch.
Where the monument is no longer visible, for example where it is overlain by
the road to Parslow's Hillock and the road on the east side of Redland End,
buried remains of the bank and the infilled ditch are thought to survive.
Further sections of Grim's Ditch remain visible to the south beyond Lily
Bottom Lane, and to the north beyond Redland End. These sections and
others along the entire known route of the boundary are the subject of
All fences and fenceposts and road surfaces 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.
Books and journals
Network Archaeology, , Grim's Ditch: Archaeological and Management Survey Phase III, (1999)
National Grid Reference: SP 83231 01746
The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1021194 .pdf
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This copy shows the entry on 23-May-2018 at 08:01:27.
End of official listing