Iwerne Courtney or Shroton

An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 3, Central. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1970.

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'Iwerne Courtney or Shroton', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 3, Central, (London, 1970) pp. 126-131. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/rchme/dorset/vol3/pp126-131 [accessed 21 April 2024]

In this section


Iwerne Courtney, the Parish Church of St. Mary

(O.S. 6 ins. ST 81 SE, ST 81 SW, ST 81 NW)

The parish, covering an L-shaped area of nearly 2,000 acres, lies on both sides of the R. Iwerne to N. and E. of Hambledon Hill. The E. part straddles the Chalk escarpment and rises from about 200 ft. above sea-level, near the river, to over 500 ft. in the E.; the W. part undulates between 150 ft. and 250 ft. on Greensand, Gault and Kimmeridge Clay, except in the S.W. where Hambledon Hill, a detached outcrop of the Chalk escarpment, rises to over 600 ft. The unusual shape of the parish results from the combination of three settlements, each of which had its own open fields: Farrington in the N.W., Iwerne Courtney at the centre, and Ranston to the E. of the R. Iwerne. (fn. 1) Except for the manor house (3), Ranston is now deserted. The most important monument is the parish church.


(1) The Parish Church of St. Mary stands near the S. end of Iwerne Courtney village. The walls are partly of squared and coursed rubble and partly of ashlar; the roofs were stone-slated until recently but are now tiled. The Chancel is of 14th-century origin but was extensively remodelled in the 17th century; the West Tower is of the 15th century with 17th-century alterations. The Nave, North Aisle and South Chapel were built in 1610 by Sir Thomas Freke (Coker, 103, and epitaph on Freke monument; see Hutchins IV, 99), the nave presumably replacing an earlier one. The South Aisle and South Porch were built in 1871, and the interior of the chancel was remodelled in 1872. The Vestry to the N. of the tower is modern.

The church illustrates the continuation of mediaeval architectural forms in the 17th century and it also contains a very noteworthy Renaissance oak screen, of the early 17th century, and an important wall monument of 1654.

Architectural Description—The Chancel (22½ ft. by 17 ft.) has a gabled E. wall with inclined copings surmounted by a cross; at the foot of the gable are two crocketed finials, that to the N. carved with the date 1610. The walls are faced with ashlar and have ogee and roll-moulded plinths which continue throughout the N. aisle and S. chapel. The E. window is of three cinquefoil-headed lights under a pointed head with rose tracery and a hood-mould; it appears to be of the 19th century and the level of the sill has been raised, possibly in 1872. The N. wall has a moulded eaves cornice and a 14th-century window of two ogee trefoil-headed lights with an ogee quatrefoil above, in a two-centred head with a moulded label; the rear-arch is segmental-pointed and the wide splays suggest that the wall is substantially mediaeval, although refaced externally in the 17th century. To the W. of the window the wall is pierced by an unmoulded two-centred archway which opens into the E. end of the N. aisle. The S. wall has a restored 14th-century doorway with a roll-moulded two-centred head and continuous jambs, an external hood-mould and a segmental-pointed rear-arch. Further W. is a two-light window uniform with that in the N. wall. Although the chancel arch is stylistically of the early 16th century the sources named above show that it really is of 1610; this also applies to the N. nave arcade and the archway to the S. chapel (see below). The chancel arch is two-centred and has two ogee moulded orders separated by a wide hollow chamfer; the latter is continuous but the ogee mouldings are carried on attached shafts with moulded capitals and chamfered bases. On the W. side the arch is outlined by an ovolo moulding.

The Nave (47 ft. by 17½ ft.) is flanked on the N. by an arcade of three segmental-pointed arches with mouldings and responds similar to those of the chancel arch; each pier has four attached shafts with moulded caps and polygonal bases; between the shafts are continuous hollow chamfers. To the S., the archway opening into the S. chapel is uniform with those of the N. arcade; further W. the arcade to the S. aisle is of 1871. The North Aisle (56½ ft. by 12 ft.) extends eastwards to embrace part of the N. wall of the chancel, forming a chapel in which stands the memorial of Sir Thomas Freke. The walls are faced externally with ashlar and have a moulded plinth, buttresses of two weathered stages, and a moulded eaves cornice on the N. The E. gable has a moulded coping with pyramidal finials at the base and a fretted finial at the apex. The E. window and the three N. windows are uniform, each being of three gradated hollow-chamfered lancet lights in a two-centred casement-moulded head with continuous jambs and a moulded label; internally the two-centred rear-arches are continuous with the splays. The South Chapel (16 ft. by 10 ft.) has E. and S. windows uniform with those of the N. aisle; the W. archway, communicating with the S. aisle, is of 1871.

The West Tower (11 ft. square) is of three stages between a chamfered plinth and an embattled parapet; the stages are defined by weathered string-courses. There is no tower vice. Diagonal buttresses of two weathered stages strengthen the N.W. and S.W. corners of the bottom stage and a square-set buttress at the S.E. corner is partly incorporated in the fabric of the S. aisle. The top stage, which was probably remodelled in the 17th century, is decorated at each corner with a square pilaster. The weathered and hollow-chamfered parapet string-course returns around the pilasters and is interrupted on each face by two symmetrically spaced gargoyles. The embattled parapet has a continuous moulded coping and at each corner the pilasters of the third stage continue upwards to terminate in crocketed finials. The two-centred tower arch has three chamfered orders, the outer chamfer continuing on the jambs while the inner orders die into flat responds. In the W. wall of the lower stage is a 15th-century window of two trefoil-headed lights below a quatrefoil in a two-centred head, with a moulded label and a two-centred rear arch; the S. wall has a small doorway with a moulded two-centred head and continuous jambs, probably of the 19th century but inserted in the position of an earlier doorway. The middle stage has square-headed single-light windows on the N. and S. sides. The third stage has in each wall a louvred belfry window uniform with the W. window of the lower stage. The South Porch is of 1871; until recently it incorporated an embattled parapet which may have been part of a former porch, but the parapet has now been removed.

Fittings—Bells: four; 1st blank, 2nd dated 1631, 3rd by John Wallis, inscribed 'Geve thanks to God I W 1590', 4th inscribed 'Santa Maria' in black-letter. Font: of Purbeck marble with slightly tapering octagonal bowl, each facet with round-headed panel, rim encircled by chamfered horizontal fillet, under-edge of bowl chamfered; cylindrical Purbeck marble stem with roughly shaped mouldings at top and bottom; bowl and stem perhaps late 12th-century but bowl entirely refaced. Glass: In N. window of chancel, two fragments, probably 15th or 16th century. Helm (fn. 2) In N. aisle, on bracket on S. wall, with skull combed and roped at ridge and reinforced over forehead by shaped frontal piece, lower edge of sight and rim of vantail roped, vantail turning on faceted pins and resting on similar pin to right of chin; above, Freke crest, a bull's head collared or; skull, sights, vantail and chin probably c. 1560, gorget plates Cromwellian.

Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monuments: In N. aisle, near E. end of N. wall, (1) of Sir Thomas Freke Kt., 1633, and Elizabeth (Talor) his wife, 1641, stone and slate monument erected by their sons in 1654 (Plate 36); at top, achievement-of-arms of Freke impaling Talor enclosed in broken segmental pediment, surmounted by putti and dove bearing inscribed scrolls; epitaph painted on slate panel within moulded stone surround; on each side five numbered shields, each with shield-of-arms of Freke impaled by or impaling another, corresponding with names of children listed, with alliances, in lower part of panel (see Hutchins IV, 99); below, sculptured podium with angels with wreaths and trumpets, and large central panel containing swag of fruit and flowers below winged angel bust. In N. aisle, near centre of N. wall, (2) of Frederick Ryves, 1826, Catherine Elizabeth Ryves, 1803, and Anna Maria Ryves, 1815, marble tablet by Hiscock; (3) of [Elizabeth Ryves, 1755, and her daughter Charlotte, 1785,] grey and white marble monument with urn and arms. In S. chapel, on S. wall, (4) of Wellington Baker and William Baker, both 1847, white marble tablet by Reeves of Bath; (5) of Sir E. Baker Baker Bt., 1825, white marble tablet in form of sarcophagus surmounted by urn, backed by grey marble obelisk; over W. arch, (6) of Peter William Baker, 1815, and his wife Jane, 1816, marble tablet with urn, angel heads and crossed swords. In tower, on N. wall, (7) of J. Stubbs, 1755, and his wife Mary, 1798, white and variegated marble tablet. In churchyard, N.E. of N. aisle, (8) of Agnis Mew, 1670, stone table-tomb. Floor-slabs: In nave, to N.E., (1) of George [Ryves, 1689], worn Purbeck marble slab; (2) of Mary Ryves, 1697, similar slab with Latin inscription; (3) of George Ryves [1666], Purbeck marble slab with boldly carved cartouche-of-arms of Ryves.

Plate: includes silver cup and cover-paten and two flagons, all date-marked 1667, cup inscribed 'Ex dono Johannis Ryves de Ranston Armiger qui obiit tertio die Maii 1667'. Screens: Across E. end of N. aisle and in archway from aisle to chancel, thus enclosing Freke monument, but probably intended at first to surround Freke family pew, oak screens (Plate 143) in two heights of panelling surmounted by a height of colonettes and ornamental latticework enclosing crests of Freke; above, entablature with masks and tendrils on frieze, enriched cornice, and strapwork cresting with fretted pinnacles and central coats-of-arms of Freke and Talor; early 17th century. Miscellanea: Fragments of architectural sculpture some 50 yds. S.W. of church, (1) reset in churchyard wall, stone panel, 2 ft. by 2 ft., with mouldings forming four triangular panels, each containing cusped circlet; (2) octagonal finial, c. 2 ft. diameter, with embattled moulding; (3) drum of Purbeck marble shafting; (4) fragment of coarse crocketed finial.

(2) The Church of St. Peter, Farrington (84151507), at the N. end of the parish and 2 m. N.W. of the parish church, was extensively rebuilt in 1856 and was again restored in 1899. It is a rectangular building of Greensand, with rough ashlar walls and finer ashlar dressings, roofed with stone-slates and tiles. The walls have chamfered double plinths. Weathered diagonal buttresses stand at the corners and a square-set buttress in the middle of each side. The W. gable culminates in a stone bell-cote dated 1839. The font is of the 12th century, but nothing remains identifiable of the mediaeval building.

Fittings—Bell: probably of 1839. Communion Tables: In chancel, oak table with turned and moulded legs, arcaded decoration on top rails, scrolled spandrel pieces; 17th century. In nave, with turned and moulded legs and carved top rails; early 17th century, top board modern. Font: (Plate 26) of stone, tub-shaped, 2⅓ ft. high and of equal diameter, upper part crudely reeded above two horizontal roll mouldings; tapering lower part plain; shallow rebate in rim with fragments of iron cover fastenings; circular basin with deep square sinking at bottom; 12th century, with modern base. Plate: includes silver cup of c. 1575 without marks.


(3) Ranston (86291220), a country house of medium size, stands in a park 400 yds. S.E. of the parish church and a short distance from the E. bank of the R. Iwerne. The estate belonged to the Ryves family from 1545 to 1781, after which it was bought by Peter William Baker, whose heirs still own it. The house has been wholly rebuilt in recent years except for the graceful 18th-century W. front, but many original 18th-century fittings have been reset in the new structure. It is of two principal storeys with basements; the walls are rendered, except for plinths, quoins and architectural features, which are of ashlar; the roofs are slated. A brick wall that formed part of the W. side of a 17th-century range was found underground during the recent rebuilding and is incorporated in the present basement; it includes the lower part of two-light windows with chamfered stone jambs. A scrolled wrought-iron weather-vane dated 1653, which formerly decorated a gable on the N. side of the house, probably belonged to the same building as the two windows. In 1753 the 17th-century house was enlarged to the W., a staircase, drawing-rooms and principal bedrooms being added; the new range was fronted by the formal W. façade which still exists. W. Watts (The Seats of the Nobility and Gentry, 1779, pl. VIII) states that the W. front was built in 1758, but the dated staircase (see below) shows that the alterations had been started at least five years earlier. In the 19th century further additions were made to N. and S. of the original range, but these extensions have now been demolished.

The W. front is of five bays (Plate 148); the three middle bays are emphasised by four Corinthian pilasters and a pediment, executed in Portland stone. At the foot of the pilasters a double flight of balustraded steps leads up to the central ground-floor opening; the original steps were removed in the 19th century but the feature has recently been restored on the basis of an 18th-century painting preserved in the house. Inside, the 18th-century staircase (Plate 85) which was originally at the centre of the N. side of the main block has now been transferred to the centre of the modern E. front. The steps are of stone, the balustrades are of scrolled wrought-iron and the moulded handrail is of figured walnut veneer. The scrolled ironwork of the landing balustrade encloses the Ryves crest, on the reverse of which is engraved 'Thos. Ryves 1753'. An original Palladian staircase window and rich rococo plaster-work on the walls and ceiling of the stair hall have also been transferred and restored; an oval canvas by Casali forms the central panel of the ceiling. Another oval canvas by the same painter, formerly in the drawing-room ceiling, has been reset in the ceiling of the first-floor hall.

An Ornamental Bridge of the mid 18th century, crossing the river 300 yds. S.W. of the house, is of Greensand ashlar, with three semicircular arches moulded on the N. side only and with plain keystones (Plate 64). Above a plat-band are balustrades with vase-shaped balusters similar to those of the stairs on the W. front of the house. At each end, where the abutments curve out to join the banks of the river, the balustrades are replaced by solid parapets. The bridge conceals a dam.

The Stables, some 40 yds. S. of the house, are of one storey with lofts, and have brick walls and slated roofs. The L-shaped plan bounds the stable yard to the S. and W. The W. wing has, at the centre of the E. wall, an entrance with a semicircular brick head and a keystone bearing the initials P.W.B., for Peter William Baker, and the date 1785, presumably the date of construction; on each side of the archway the ground-floor has three round-headed windows lighting the stalls and loose-boxes and over it is a circular window to the loft. The S. wing contains four coach-houses, each with a separate entrance with an elliptical brick head and an ashlar keystone and impost blocks. Extending the wing to the E. is another stable, but this was originally an open shelter of two bays with elliptical arches uniform with those of the coach-house entrances; the arches are now bricked up and furnished with semicircular windows. A cast lead pump-head is inscribed 'E.B.B. 1844'.

(4) Shroton House (85741300), 700 yds. N. of (1), is of two storeys with attics and cellars, and has walls of brick, largely rendered, and slated roofs. It dates from the first half of the 18th century and incorporates datestones inscribed 'William Jeanes, 1728' and 'William and Anne Jeanes 1736'. The original plan comprised a long range facing S. and a shorter E. range at right-angles; subsequently the E. range was extended N., the S. range was extended W. and other additions were made to N. and W. in the re-entrant angle between the two original ranges.

The S. front, of seven bays, has at the centre a large 19th-century two-storied bow with three sashed windows on each floor; to the E. of the bow is a single-storied late 19th-century porch. Flanking these features are giant Doric pilasters, and similar pilasters mark the E. and W. extremities of the elevation; between the western pair of pilasters are three two-storied bays of sashed windows while the eastern pair have two similar bays between them. The two E. pilasters are surmounted by the S. gable of the E. range.

Inside, the entrance hall has 18th-century pine panelling in two heights, with a moulded dado rail, fielded panels and a moulded cornice. The dining-room, at the S. end of the E. range, has late 19th-century decorations. The study, to the N. of the dining-room, has 19th-century panelling but sashed windows with heavy glazing bars of the 18th century. The stairs adjacent to the study are of oak and of the 18th century; they have open strings, scrolled spandrels, column newel-posts, turned balusters and moulded handrails; the staircase walls have raking dados. A sitting-room on the N. side of the S. range has 18th-century pine panelling in two heights, and a panelled overmantel with Greek-key enrichment. The chamber above the dining-room is lined with 18th-century fielded panelling in two heights, with a moulded dado rail and a cornice with consoles alternating with lozenges; the fireplace has a moulded stone surround and brackets supporting a cornice; above is a fielded overmantel in an eared architrave with a broken pediment.

(5) Willis's Shroton Farm (85701294), 60 yds. S.W. of the foregoing, is of two and three storeys with a cellar, and has walls of brick and rubble, and slated roofs. The W. part of the farmhouse is of the first half of the 18th century and the three-storied E. range was added c. 1800. The original W. range is two-storied with an attic; on the ground floor it has a large kitchen to the N.W. and an office, perhaps originally a parlour, to the N.E. To the S. of these rooms are a scullery, a store-room and a staircase. The E. range consists of a N. and a S. room with a narrow passage between them. The E. front is of brick but the N. and S. side-walls are rendered, the rendering returning on the E. front in the guise of rusticated quoins. The E. front is symmetrical and of three bays, with a round-headed doorway on the ground floor, square-headed sashed windows on each side, and three similar windows in each of the two upper storeys.

A Cottage immediately S.W. of the farmhouse is two-storied with English-bond brick walls and a thatched roof. It appears to be of the mid 18th century and incorporates a date-stone marked 'W.J. 1758'; it was originally a dairy with a small dwelling to the E. Blocked ventilation loops occur in the N. and S. walls and in the N. wall are traces of a wide doorway, also blocked, with large ashlar guard-stones at the foot of each jamb.

(6) Cottage (85801293), on the S. side of the lane, 100 yds. S.E. of (4), is of one storey with attics. It dates from the 17th century and has walls of clunch, rubble, timber-framing and brick, and a thatched roof. At the centre of the N. front is a small three-sided two-storied bay window of squared clunch blocks with jambs and mullions of wood. The E. part of the N. wall is of rubble; the W. part has been rebuilt in brick. Internally, the ground floor has three rooms and a throughpassage; the middle room and that to the W. have back-to-back fireplaces; the E. room has a fireplace in the gabled end wall, with a winding stair beside it.

(7) Shroton Cottage (85941293), 530 yds. N. of the church, is of two storeys, with rubble walls and a thatched roof. Although much rebuilt and restored the nucleus is probably of the 17th or early 18th century.

(8) Shroton Farm (85991254), house, 150 yds. N. of the church, is mainly of the early 19th century, but it incorporates a 17th-century wing. The 19th-century part is two-storied, with brick walls, a tiled roof and a symmetrical E. front of three bays. The 17th-century wing, which projects forward from the N. end of the E. front, has the E. wall of squared clunch blocks and in this wall are vestiges of a stone window with a moulded label. Internally the 17th-century wing has stop-chamfered beams.

The Barn, 80 yds. S. of the farmhouse, is of the 18th century; it has rubble walls with ashlar quoins and dressings, and a thatched roof; internally the walls are lined with roughly squared clunch. The plan is a long rectangle with wings projecting N. at each end and a central projecting bay to the S. The main entrance is a wide doorway in the centre of the N. side while the S. bay has a similar doorway opposite. Many dates are scratched on the clunch walls, the earliest noted being 1731. A 17th-century Pigeon House, 15 yds. S.W. of the barn, is rectangular on plan. The walls are of ashlar and the roof is tiled. The walls have a chamfered plinth and on the S. side is a blocked doorway with a four-centred stone head and chamfered jambs. Internally the structure is built in courses of thin stone slabs alternating with courses of square blocks, the latter spaced so that each interstice forms a nesting-box. A Granary, 30 yds. S.E. of the barn, has brick walls raised on an arcaded substructure with stone impost blocks of sufficient overhang to defeat the agility of rats; the granary is lined with elm planks. The granary and an adjacent Stable are of the late 18th or early 19th century.

(9) The Rectory (86041255), 100 yds. N.E. of the church, is two-storied with attics and cellars and has ashlar walls and slated roofs. It was built in 1812.

(10) Cottages, three adjacent, 50 yds. S.E. of the church, are of rubble and ashlar in two storeys, with attics in a tiled roof. A triple gable on the N. side and the symmetrically spaced windows of both storeys are evidently secondary. The structure is likely to date from the 17th century.

(11) Tray Town (86521198), 750 yds. S.E. of the church, is an early 19th-century cottage orné of one storey, with squared rubble walls and a thatched roof (Plate 60). The windows of the W. front have pointed heads. The plan is square and the pyramidal roof culminates in a central chimney-stack; reset at the base of the stack is an 18th-century keystone with a grotesque mask.

(12) Farrington Bridge (84091558), crossing the Fontmell Brook at the N. extremity of the parish, is of coursed rubble and ashlar with segmental arches in two spans; it is dated 1830.

(13) Farrington House (84151523), a 17th-century farmhouse of two storeys with attics, has walls of coursed rubble with ashlar dressings and a thatched roof; a brick wing to the N. is probably of the 18th century. The doorway in the N. wall of the original range is now blocked; it has a four-centred head and chamfered jambs. On the ground floor the gabled W. wall has two square-headed four-light windows with chamfered stone mullions and moulded labels; symmetrically placed above them is a three-light first-floor window with similar details; the attic has a similar two-light window. The S. front of the original range and the later N. range have wooden casement windows. Internally there are exposed stop-chamfered ceiling beams.

(14) 'Meadow Gate' (84241500), 300 yds. S.E. of the foregoing, is mainly of brick with some rubble and flint, and has a thatched roof; it dates from the late 18th or early 19th century.

(15) Church Farm (84201505), 50 yds. N. of the foregoing, is a 17th-century farmhouse of one storey with attics; the S.W. front is of ashlar and the N.W. end wall is of banded flint and rubble; the roofs are thatched (Plate 60). The S.E. end of the house is modern. The original S.W. front has, on the ground floor, two windows of three and four lights with ovolo-moulded stone surrounds, square heads and weathered labels; above, in gabled stone dormers, are two corresponding three-light windows and above these, in each gable, is a chamfered loop. Inside, a fireplace has a chamfered stone surround with a three-centred head; some exposed ceiling beams are stop-chamfered.

Mediaeval and Later Earthwroks

(16) Settlement Remains (863120) of the former village of Ranston lie in Ranston Park on the E. side of the R. Iwerne.

Causewayed Camp, Hambledon Hill

The settlement was one of the Iwernes in Domesday Book and has been identified by Eyton (p. 137) as the three-hide manor of Robert, son of Gerald (D.B. Vol. I, f. 80b); this manor had a recorded population of nine. By 1274 five free tenants and ten villeins were listed (Dorset Procs. Vol. LXIX, 49). The settlement is not recorded separately in the mid 14th-century Subsidy Rolls but it is possible that it was included with Iwerne Stepleton. After this date there is no record of population until 1662, when nothing but Ranston House remained (Meeking, p. 67, s.v. 'Steepleton'). Any surviving dwellings were probably destroyed when the 17th-century house was built.

The remains cover about 6 acres and are mainly indeterminate banks and scarps, up to 3 ft. high and distributed around an almost square enclosure with sides 30 yds. long. The enclosure is bounded on the S. and E. by a low bank with an outer ditch and on the N. and W. by a scarp 1 ft. high. Inside the enclosure is a platform 60 ft. long, 30 ft. wide and 1 ft. high, orientated E.–W.; it is marked on O.S. maps as the site of a chapel.

(17) Bull Pit (88831348) lies in Bull Pit Coppice, 2 m. E.N.E. of the village and immediately W. of the ShaftesburyBlandford Road. Its date and purpose are unknown but it could have been a pit for bull-baiting. The remains consist of a circular pit 90 ft. in diameter and 7 ft. deep, with a flat bottom 65 ft. across. A ditch or hollow-way 25 ft. wide and 2½ ft. deep runs around the outside of the pit from the S.W. and turns, on the N.E., into a ramped entrance to the pit, 30 ft. wide.

(18) Cultivation Remains. The open fields of Iwerne Courtney were enclosed by agreement in 1548 (Hutchins IV, 89). Ridge-and-furrow of these fields remains due W. of Park House Farm Buildings (852136); it consists of two rectangular butting furlongs with ridges 6 yds. to 8 yds. wide.

Nothing is known of the date of enclosure of the open fields of Farrington. Around Church Farm (15) some 50 acres of ridge-and-furrow, in end-on and butting furlongs of curved or reversed-S ridges, 7 yds. to 9 yds. wide, remain or can be seen on air photographs (R.A.F. CPE/UK 1944: 4329–30).

Roman and Prehistoric

Iron Age Hill-fort, see Child Okeford (22).

(19) Neolithic Causewayed Camp, on Hambledon Hill (849122), consists of a single enclosure of nearly 20 acres embracing the domed central summit of the hill, here reaching 640 ft. above O.D., and three multiple cross-dykes situated on spurs radiating to the S. and E. (see also plan on p. xxxix and Plate 131). The earthworks have been much disturbed in the past by tracks and diggings for flint gravel, particularly the interior of the enclosure, and recently they have been almost completely destroyed by ploughing. The site was first fully described in Crawford and Keiller Wessex from the Air (1928), 44–7. The enclosure was examined in a test excavation by G. de G. Sieveking in 1951 (Dorset Procs. LXXIII (1951), 105–6) and the cross-dykes were investigated by this Commission in 1958–60. A radiocarbon date of 2790 B.C.ŷ90 was provided by a carbon sample from the bottom of the inner ditch of cross-dyke 1.

In plan the enclosure is a rounded triangle, up to 1,000 ft. across and surrounding the hilltop at about 600 ft., although scarcely taking full advantage of the contours in the way that a hill-fort might. Before destruction it was defined by a scarp, varying in height from 2 ft. to 6 ft., surmounted by a low bank, 15 ft. across and 6 ins. high, visible only on the S. and E. sides. Outside was a causewayed or interrupted ditch, but this, due to silting, appeared for much of its length as a terrace about 10 ft. across. On the N. side soil creep and thick scrub masked the line of the enclosure. The whole of the interior was pocked by numerous pits and hollows, the result of flint digging for roadmetal over many years.

Cross-dyke 1 lies on gently sloping ground 40 yds. S. of the enclosure and facing outwards from it. It comprises a double line of banks and ditches, 600 ft. long and extending in a gentle curve across the neck of the S. spur from shoulder to shoulder. It has been disfigured by tracks and flint digging but the interrupted nature of the inner ditch is still visible. The banks, now little more than scarps, still stand over 5 ft. above the ditch bottoms.

Cross-dyke 2, of similar length and construction, lies across the neck of the E. spur, within 100 ft. of the enclosure and following its curve. It is now almost almost completely destroyed.

Cross-dyke 3 lies further down the E. spur, ¼ m. away from the enclosure and at a point where the slope steepens; it extends for nearly 1,000 ft. in a broad convex curve from shoulder to shoulder. A 100 ft. gap half-way along it is almost certainly not original. To the S. of the gap the dyke is a single bank and ditch, but N. of it, where the natural slope is very steep, it is certainly double.

Excavation showed that, owing to weathering, very little of the original banks remained, at most 6 ins. All the ditches were comparatively small, fairly steep-sided and, with the exception of the outer ditch of cross-dyke 1, clearly flat-bottomed; the exception was more V-shaped. The ditches varied in width between 11 ft. and 14 ft., except in cross-dyke 2 where they were both 7 ft. In depth they varied between 3 ft. and 7 ft., except the enclosure ditch which shallowed to a mere scrape on the steeper slope; here the effect of a bank was produced by scarping and a quarry ditch for material was hardly necessary.

Neolithic pottery of simple form, akin to that from Maiden Castle, was found scattered throughout the filling of the ditches and was the only pottery from the lower filling; it included a very degenerate example of a trumpet-lug. Other finds included chipped and polished flint axes, leaf-shaped arrowheads, large coarse scrapers, a bone chisel or gouge, animal bones, chiefly of cattle, and two human skulls from the ditch bottoms of crossdyke 2. Within the upper part of the ditch fillings occasional abraded 'B' beaker and rusticated sherds appeared; they were abundant in the shallow inner ditch of cross-dyke 2, where a Beaker pit had been cut into the earlier filling.

(20) Occupation Site (890132), of Mesolithic date, lies at 500 ft. above O.D. on the summit of the Chalk escarpment, which is here capped with Clay-with-flints. The site is in the extreme E. of the parish and is generally known by the name of the adjacent parish, Iwerne Minster. The site, covering some two acres, has been ploughed and has yielded a considerable number of surface finds of flint tools, including cores, tranchet picks, flake axes and microliths (P.P.S., VII (1941), 145–6; Dorset Procs., LXXXIII (1961), 92–4, 97).


(21) Enclosure (88701335), in Ditchey Coppice, lies at just over 500 ft. above O.D. on the ridge top, E. of the R. Iwerne. It consists of a rectangular enclosure about 100 ft. square, bounded by a low bank with an outer ditch. The interior is divided into two unequal parts by a low bank, orientated E.–W., which continues for 240 ft. W. of the enclosure. An entrance on the E., 4 yds. wide, gives access to the S. part; in the S.W. corner of this part is a rectangular depression 60 ft. long, 12 ft. wide and 6 ins. deep, orientated E.–W. and probably the site of a building. The appearance of the enclosure suggests that it is of mediaeval or later date.


  • 1. Dorset Procs., LXIX (1947), 49.
  • 2. Part 1, p. 127, under Fittings, for Helm read Helmet, and in the entry, after 'ridge', read—and with shaped reinforce over brow, visor in two parts and lower bevor all pivoted at sides to open, the foregoing mid 16th-century, gorget plates 17th-century replacements, the whole probably English; with Freke crest, a bull's head collared or, carved in wood, added for funerary purposes.