Pages 53-57

An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 5, East. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1975.

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In this section

16 PENTRIDGE (0317)

(O.S. 6 ins., SU 01 NW, SU 10 NE, SU 02 SW)

Pentridge, covering 2,870 acres, occupies a northern promontory of the county and adjoins both Hampshire and Wiltshire; it lies on rolling Chalk downland between 300 ft. and 400 ft. above O.D., except in the S.E. where Pentridge Hill rises to 600 ft. and is capped by Clay-with-flints and Plateau Gravel.

The parish took its present form in 1933 by amalgamation with the former parishes of East and West Woodyates. Previously, Pentridge itself had two parts, separated from one another by East Woodyates. The part of Pentridge which lies N. of East Woodyates is centred on Cobley Farm, a name suggestive of antiquity, but without early documentation.

West Woodyates contains a manor house and farm buildings and probably was never more considerable than at present. Odiete of Domesday (V.C.H., Dorset iii, 74) is probably identifiable with Woodyates village, at the southern end of the former parish of East Woodyates. It stands beside the road from Salisbury to Dorchester which here follows the line of Ackling Dyke, the Roman road from Old Sarum to Badbury Rings. The houses of Pentridge village, near the middle of the larger part of the old parish, extend along a dry valley at the foot of Pentridge Hill.


(1) The Parish Church of St. Rumbold, on the W. of Pentridge village, has walls of flint and squared rubble with ashlar dressings; the roofs are tiled. The church was rebuilt in 1855 (Ecclesiologist, XVI, 189) in 14th-century style; the tower has a broached stone spire.

Fittings—Inscription: Reset in S. wall of chancel, stone tablet recording rebuilding of a former chancel in 1815 under Thomas Hobson, rector. Monuments: In nave, on N. wall, (1) of Robert Browning, 1746, and Elizabeth his wife, 1759, great grandparents of the poet, tablet erected 1902. In churchyard, S. of chancel, (2–5) headstones and table-tombs of members of the Goddard family 1774–1797. Plate: includes cup and cover-paten of 1575, of usual Elizabethan form, maker HS.

Of the Parish Church of West Woodyates, recorded at the end of the 13th century (Dorset Procs., XLIX (1928), 84), no structural remains have been found.


(2) West Woodyates Manor House (01631949), of two storeys with attics and cellars, has flint and rubble walls with ashlar dressings, and tile-covered roofs. The building appears to be of 17th-century origin, but it may incorporate the remains of an earlier structure. The S.E. front was remodelled early in the 18th century, probably under the ownership of Lord Londonderry, a son of the celebrated Governor Pitt (Hutchins III, 608). Further improvements and extensions date from early in the 19th century and from recent times. (Dorset Procs., XLIX (1928), 77–88.)

The 18th-century S.E. front (Plate 29) is rendered. Originally it was symmetrical and of five bays, with a square-headed central doorway with a rusticated ashlar surround. The sashed window over the doorway has a moulded ashlar architrave; the other windows are plain. Small bull's-eye windows flank the ranges of openings in each storey, those on the S. being false. The façade is capped by a moulded wooden cornice and a parapet. The S. corner has a rusticated quoin; doubtless a similar quoin originally marked the E. corner, but it was removed early in the 19th century when the façade was extended on the N.E. An early photograph (N.M.R.) proves that the bow-window in the extension is of later 19th-century date. The S.W. elevation is of flint and has two gables, a chimney-stack with three diagonally-set ashlar flues, and square-headed casement windows with 17th-century moulded stone surrounds. The N.W. elevation has three gables, partly of flint and partly of brick, and casement windows as described.

Inside, the S.W. ground-floor room has a large open fireplace with a chamfered oak bressummer with rounded shoulders and a raised centre; it rests on chamfered stone jambs. The walls of the room are lined with 17th-century oak panelling. A recess beside the fireplace is spanned by a modern stone arch with a reset mediaeval keystone. The chamber above this room has a small fireplace with a moulded stone surround with a rounded head. Another chamber has an 18th-century fireplace with a bolection-moulded stone surround.

A modern extension on the S.W. of the house has, reset in the S.E. wall, a fragment of a 13th-century Purbeck marble coffin-lid with hollow-chamfered edges and with a cross carved on the surface. A small stone coffin, preserved close to the house, is probably also of the 13th century.

An 18th-century range adjacent to the house on the W., formerly Stables, is single-storeyed and has brick walls and tiled roofs. At the centre of the N.E. front is a blocked segmental-headed archway and over this is a pigeon-cote with a round opening. On the roof ridge is an arched wooden bell-cote with a weather-vane.

Earthworks on the S. and E. of the house comprise a level enclosure, 170 yds. by 130 yds., defined on S.W., S.E. and N.E. by a ha-ha some 15 ft. wide and 4 ft. deep. A mound at the S. corner of the enclosure is 80 ft. in diameter and 14 ft. high and is surrounded by a ditch 2 ft. deep. A low circular platform occurs at the W. corner of the enclosure. These features are probably of 18th-century origin.

Pentridge Village

(3) Pentridge House (03461775), formerly the rectory, is two-storeyed with attics and a cellar; the walls are of cob and of brick; the roofs, formerly thatched, are now tiled. The original house, with cob walls and a class-T plan, was built in the first half of the 18th century; brick extensions on the S. and E. are of the late 19th century. The N.W. front is symmetrical and of three bays, with a central doorway flanked by sashed three-light bow windows in the lower storey, and with three plain sashed windows above. Inside, some rooms retain original joinery, including a round-headed niche with shaped shelves. The stairs have vase-and-column balusters, Tuscan newel-posts, and scroll spandrels.

(4) Cottage (03411778), of one storey with attics, has walls partly of timber framework filled in with wattle-and-daub and partly of brick; the roof is tiled. It is of the 17th century and retains many original features. The plan is of class S. Inside, the open fireplace has a 17th-century chamfered oak bressummer upon which the date 1730 has been carved. Some original stop-chamfered beams are exposed. Mediaeval window glass and 17th-century oak panelling have been brought from elsewhere.

(5) Cottage (03571790), of two storeys with cob walls and a thatched roof, is of 18th-century origin. The W. front is of two bays with a central doorway.

(6) Cottage (03641799), of one storey with attics, has walls of banded flint and brickwork, and a thatched roof. It is of late 18th-century origin, with a 19th-century extension on the S.

(7) Cottages (03591799), two adjacent, are two-storeyed and have walls of cob, flint and brickwork, and thatched roofs. The S. dwelling is of c. 1700; that on the N. is a little later. Each dwelling has a symmetrical E. front of two bays with a central doorway. Inside, each cottage has a class-S plan with the staircase on the E. side of the chimneybreast.

(8) Cottage (03501805), of one storey with an attic, has cob walls with brick dressings, and a thatched roof. It was built in the 18th century and has a class-S plan.


(9) The Shaftesbury Arms Inn (02941934), demolished in 1967, was of two storeys with brick walls and tiled roofs and comprised buildings of several periods. The S.W. range, much altered in the 18th and 19th centuries, appears to have been of 17th-century origin; at the N.W. end it had a tall brick chimney-stack with arcaded sides. Adjacent on the N.E., a range at right-angles to the S.W. range had exposed chamfered beams with shaped stops. During demolition the date 1672 was found carved on a fireplace bressummer. A yard surrounded by single-storeyed stable buildings in the N.E. of the complex was of mid 19th-century date. Late 19th-century buildings stood on the S.E. of the 17th-century range.

(10) Cottage (02821941), demolished in 1954, was of one storey with attics and had walls of squared rubble and flint, and a thatched roof. Of 17th-century origin, it was partly rebuilt in the 18th century.

(11) Manor Farm (02811945), house, of two storeys with walls of banded brickwork and flint, and with a thatched roof, is of 17th-century origin; it was extensively altered in the 18th century and later. The principal range comprises two former cottages, originally single-storeyed with attics; the outline of the single-storeyed S.E. gable is preserved in the subsequently heightened end wall. The former S.E. cottage had a class-I plan. A beam with mitred sockets for former uprights and with dowel-holes for former wattle-and-daub panels shows that the N.W. wall was originally of timber framework. The former N.W. cottage, perhaps a little later than that on the S.E., had a class-S plan; several chamfered beams with shaped stops remain. Late in the 18th century a N.E. range was added to the earlier range, at right-angles to it, near the S.E. end.

(12) Barn (02891950), with brick walls and tiled roofs and L-shaped in plan, has the date 1727 worked in blue headers. The roofs have collared tie-beam trusses.

(13) Cottages (02082051), two adjacent, at Cobley, are of one storey with brick walls and tiled roofs and probably are of the early 18th century. The walls are built with large bricks (cf. Farnham (3), Dorset IV, 18). It is reported locally that a lock-up for poachers formerly existed in this place.

Post-Mediaeval Earthworks

See (2) West Woodyates Manor House.

Roman and Prehistoric

(14) Roman Occupation Debris was discovered in 1919 when a sewage pit was cut near West Woodyates Manor House; it lay on a level site of Chalk, 400 ft. above O.D. (01631953). Pottery, coins, oyster shells and animal bones were found. (Dorset Procs., XLIX (1928), 77.)

Pentridge. (16) Bokerley Dyke. Map and Profiles

(15) Romano-British Settlement (034197), at Woodyates, is indicated by pits, ditches, burials and occupation debris excavated by Gen. Pitt-Rivers in 1888–90 and by P. A. Rahtz in 1958. The site lies on either side of Bokerley Dyke, around the point known as Bokerley Junction, where the Roman road from Old Sarum to Dorchester passes through the dyke.

Apart from a little Iron Age pottery, a burial with a brooch of the 1st century A.D., and some sherds and coins of the 1st and 2nd centuries, all the finds indicate occupation from about 275–400. Their distribution suggests that the most intensive activity was W. of the Roman road and S. of Bokerley Dyke, and the large number of coins (over 1,200), mostly of the 4th century, may suggest a market or a shrine. To the N. of the dyke several roughly rectangular enclosures were formed by ditches 10 ft. wide and 2 ft. to 5 ft. deep. Among them were eleven pits, hearths, a corn-drying oven and 'occasional' burials. An inhumation cemetery with burials orientated E.–W., perhaps Christian, occupied a square enclosure 112 ft. by 120 ft., with a ditch 6 ft. wide and 3 ft. deep. The roughly rectangular enclosures may have extended further W. and E.

To the S. were fifteen similar pits, ditches, hearths, another oven, and a burial. A bronze figurine of Venus was found on the edge of Bokerley Dyke (16). At this point the dyke was cut through occupation debris in c. A.D. 330, extended through the settlement in 367, and was realigned after 393. Finds are in Farnham Museum, in D.C.M. and in B.M. (Pitt-Rivers, Excavations III (1892), 3–239; Hawkes, Arch. J., CIV (1947), 62– 78; Rahtz, Ibid., CXVIII (1961), 65–99.)

(16) Bokerley Dyke (016200–063168), a boundary bank and ditch, often of massive defensive proportions, was built in the late Roman period to serve as a protective barrier or frontier (map opposite). Facing N.E., it extends for nearly four miles across Cranborne Chase from a point near West Woodyates in the W. to Martin Wood in the S.E. For much of its length the dyke is well preserved, though thickly overgrown in places, but N.W. of Bokerley Junction, where the modern road following the line of the Roman road from Old Sarum to Dorchester passes through it, the dyke has been badly damaged or levelled by ploughing. To S.E. of the junction the dyke constitutes the boundary between Dorset and Hampshire. Excavations by General Pitt-Rivers in the vicinity of the junction are the chief source of information concerning the structural sequence and date of the earthwork (Pitt-Rivers, Excavations III, 3–239). His report has been the subject of reinterpretation by C. F. C. Hawkes (Arch. J., CIV (1947), 62–78). Further excavations on the dyke were carried out by P. A. Rahtz in 1958, in advance of road widening (Arch. J., CXVIII (1961), 65–99).

Bokerley Dyke lies across a tract of open Chalk country, furrowed by dry valleys, between the upper reaches of the R. Allen and those of the R. Crane. At either end it terminates where later deposits (Clay-with-flints in the N.W. and Reading Beds in the S.E.) overlie the Chalk; these deposits support woodland today and probably gave rise to more extensive tree cover in the past. In Martin Wood the dyke is of modest dimensions, measuring less than 50 ft. across overall, but it increases steadily in size as it proceeds along the shoulder of the narrow ridge leading to Blagdon Hill, from which it commands a view over the lower ground to the E. On Blagdon Hill the dyke crosses one of the branches of the Grim's Ditch complex (17) and then turns to descend the N. slope of the hill obliquely (Plate 56). Here it reaches its maximum dimensions, 100 ft. across overall, with the bank 8 ft. high and the ditch up to 9 ft. deep. It then continues for over 1½ miles across a relatively low, broad pass or saddle to Bokerley Junction, where the Roman road from Old Sarum to Dorchester and the modern road (A 354) pass through it. Another branch of the Grim's Ditch complex meets it from the N. on Martin Down. Some 600 yds. E.S.E. of Bokerley Junction a short stub of bank and ditch, of comparable dimensions to the dyke itself and known since Pitt-Rivers's day as the Epaulement, extends W. from the dyke and marks an earlier termination; the W. part of this stub has been levelled.

West of Bokerley Junction the precise course of the dyke is less certain than to the E. because of ploughing and earlier levelling. Pitt-Rivers showed by excavation that it bifurcated at Bokerley Junction and he traced the two arms westward on a roughly parallel course. The more northerly of these, which he termed the Fore Dyke, extends to a point 400 yds. W. of Hill Copse (01562000) and is still clearly visible on the ground for much of its length, though it diminishes in size westward. The southern arm or Rear Dyke, which Pitt-Rivers believed came to an end just N. of West Woodyates Manor (01491961), is now almost entirely obliterated. There is no surface evidence to support Pitt-Rivers's belief, and air photographs (V58 RAF 3250: 0126; C.U.A.P., RC 8, X99) show clearly that it ended 140 yds. E. of Hill Copse (02221986). A length of bank and ditch extends S.W. from the Fore Dyke in Hill Copse and appears to join a feature which Pitt-Rivers regarded as part of the Rear Dyke, just N.E. of West Woodyates Manor.

In his analysis of the date and structural sequence of the dyke (based largely on Pitt-Rivers's observations) Hawkes concluded that it was built from its S.E. end as far as the Epaulement in c. A.D. 325; that it was extended sometime after 364 (perhaps during the crises of 367–8) to block the Roman road and to continue as the Rear Dyke; that the road was soon unblocked, and that finally, sometime after 393, the Fore Dyke was built and the road was then permanently blocked. As a result of more recent work Rahtz suggests that the dyke extended initially as far N.W. as the Roman road, leaving an entrance or gap beside the Epaulement, and that this was blocked later, either when the Rear Dyke was built or perhaps permanently only when the Fore Dyke was built. The evidence at present available is insufficient for definitive interpretation.

The course and dimensions of Bokerley Dyke leave little doubt that it was built as a defensive barrier or frontier, especially in its final form. It blocks a stretch of open downland which constituted a vulnerable gap between what probably were areas of extensive woodland, a gap through which passed the Roman road from the N.E. The dyke was surely designed to prevent penetration from that quarter. Ultimately it may have served to protect the Romano-Britons of east Dorset from the unwelcome attentions of Anglo-Saxon settlers, whose early presence barely 10 miles away in the Avon valley around Salisbury is well attested. It seems likely, too, that Bokerley Dyke echoes or replaces, on a line better sited tactically, an older non-defensive boundary represented by part of the Grim's Ditch complex. To the N.W. of the Epaulement it is possible that it overlies and follows a branch of Grim's Ditch; on Martin Down a further branch of Grim's Ditch meets, but does not run under the dyke.

(17) Grim's Ditch, in the extreme N.E. of the parish and adjacent to (16), is part of a complex of boundary ditches which extends for nearly nine miles from west to east across Cranborne Chase. Most of the complex lies in Hampshire and it will be described, as a whole, in the Inventory of that County; it also continues into the extreme S. of Wiltshire. The Dorset section (map opp. p. 55 and Plate 56) comprises a bank and ditch just over 1½ miles long, extending N.W. from Blagdon Hill (05551802) in two straight alignments to the vicinity of the Epaulement (03741962), the earthwork which projects S.W. from Bokerley Dyke (16) and represents part of an early phase in the development of that Monument. For much of its length the Dorset section of Grim's Ditch has been flattened by ploughing, but where best preserved, on Blagdon Hill, it comprises a bank 20 ft. across and up to 3 ft. high with a ditch 16 ft. across and 2 ft. deep along the N.E. side. On Blagdon Hill the earthwork turns E. and after passing under Bokerley Dyke continues on Tidpit Common Down, but the 300 ft. length immediately W. of the dyke has been levelled. At the N.W. end ploughing has obliterated the relationship of Grim's Ditch with Bokerley Dyke and the Epaulement; it is possible that it continued N.W. on the line later followed by Bokerley Dyke.

The Grim's Ditch complex almost certainly evolved over a lengthy period, extending from the Bronze Age probably into Romano-British times. As yet, however, only the stretch on Martin Down (045201), just across the county boundary with Hampshire, has been satisfactorily dated; a length of 300 ft. was excavated by Pitt-Rivers and found to be of the Bronze Age (Pitt-Rivers, Excavations IV, 190). This complex of boundary ditches is no more than part of a former system of land allotment and utilisation, into which adjacent hill-forts, settlements, 'Celtic' fields and also barrows were integrated (Sumner, Cranborne Chase, 57–62; Antiquity XVIII (1944), 65–71).

(18) Hill-fort (040171), on Penbury Knoll, is a small univallate enclosure, possibly unfinished; it is pear-shaped in plan and 3¾ acres in area internally. It lies over 575 ft. above O.D., on the summit of a long, narrow N.E.–S.W. Chalk ridge, capped with Reading Beds and Clay-with-flints. The site has been severely damaged by shallow quarrying in the past and much of the interior is obscured by trees and undergrowth. On W. and N. the enclosure is defined by a bank, up to 25 ft. across and 2 ft. high above the interior, broken on the N.W. by a large quarrypit. In front of the rampart on the W. is a ditch up to 3 ft. deep and 25 ft. across; on the N. is a terrace about 10 ft. wide. The remainder of the circuit of the defences, except for a gap of 100 ft. on the E., is represented by a scarp up to 25 ft. in width and from 1 to 5 ft. in height. Behind the rampart on the N. side are quarry pits contemporary with its construction, but elsewhere within the interior quarrying appears to be of more recent date. No occupation features are visible in the interior and no certain entrance can be detected. 'Celtic' fields (Group (85), p. 118) lie immediately W. and N. of the enclosure and are probably, but not certainly, associated with it.

Monuments (19–23), Long Barrows

Four certain long barrows and one probable occur in the parish; they all appear to be associated with the Dorset Cursus (Gussage St. Michael (9)). Barrow (19) is incorporated in the bank of the Cursus; the others are sited near and are aligned upon its N.E. end on Bokerley Down (Plate 56). All but (19), which has been planted with conifers, have been damaged by repeated ploughing around them.

(19) Long Barrow (02581694), on the spine of a low spur in Salisbury Plantation, has been incorporated in the N.W. bank of the Cursus. Its alignment (S.W.–N.E.) differs slightly from that of the Cursus, which it appears to pre-date. The mound, 140 ft. long, is 50 ft. across and 8 ft. high at the N.E. end, and 40 ft. across and 4½ ft. high at the S.W. end.

(20) Long Barrow (04161876), on Bokerley Down, lies on the N. slope of a low spur and is aligned N.N.W.–S.S.E. on the N.E. end of the Cursus. Ploughing has largely obliterated the side ditches and has damaged the mound; it is now 300 ft. long, and 60 ft. across and 8 ft. high at the S.E. end, but narrower and lower at the N.W. end.

(21) Long Barrow (04081913), one of a pair set end-to-end immediately S.E. of the end of the Cursus, is aligned S.E.–N.W. upon it. The mound, badly damaged by ploughing at its N.W. end, is 185 ft. long; at the S.E. end it is 60 ft. wide and 6 ft. high, decreasing N.W. Ploughing has almost totally obscured the side ditches and has widened and squared-off the gap between this barrow and (22).

(18) Hill-fort on Penbury Knoll

(22) Long Barrow (04121906), immediately S.E. of (21), lies on a similar but not identical alignment; air photographs and probing indicate that the side ditches of the two barrows are continuous. The mound, which has a level top, is 270 ft. long, 70 ft. wide and 5 ft. high.

(23) Long Barrow ? (03941951), close to Bokerley Dyke and 300 yds. N. of the end of the Cursus, has been much damaged by ploughing, but earlier observations (Dorset Barrows, 81) and air photographs (N.M.R., SU 0319/3, 7, 8) indicate the presence of side ditches aligned S.E.–N.W. The mound is 95 ft. long, 70 ft. across and 4 ft. high.

Monuments (24–34), Round Barrows

Eleven round barrows can be identified in the parish, but nearly all have been damaged by ploughing. Three barrows on the W. side of Bokerley Dyke were opened before 1810 by Colt Hoare, but they cannot be precisely located and therefore are not identifiable with existing Monuments. Two, possibly (33) and (34), were close together. The smaller of them covered a primary deposit comprising a Beaker in a cist 3 ft. deep and also a secondary cremation in a large urn 'simply ornamented' (R. Colt Hoare, Ancient Wiltshire, I (1812), 234–5); the other contained two skeletons and pagan Saxon objects, including a split-socketed iron spearhead and two knives, but it is uncertain if these were in a primary or secondary context (Ibid., 234, Pl. xxxi, B, Nos. 1, 2; A. Meaney, Gazetteer of Early Anglo-Saxon Burial Sites (1964), 81). The third barrow opened by Colt Hoare lay 'nearer to Woodyates Inn' and also contained pagan Saxon objects. In the mound, which was surrounded by large sarsen stones, were a small hook, a buckle and a clench bolt, all of iron, and an ivory bracelet; beneath was an extended female skeleton near the head of which lay two further clench bolts, two beads of blue glass and one of jet, and a small lozenge-shaped gold pendant, apparently ornamented in cloisonné enamel (Hoare, loc. cit., 235, Pl. xxxii; Meaney, Gazetteer, 82). Another barrow 'near Woodyates Inn', opened c. 1842 by W. Chaffers, remains unlocated and may be in Hampshire; it contained what was probably a primary inhumation, placed E.–W. in a chalk-cut grave and accompanied by an iron dagger and an unidentified iron object (Arch., XXX (1844), 547; Warne, C.T.D., Pt. 3, No. 47).

(24) Bowl (02511620), an outlying member of the Salisbury Plantation group (Wimborne St. Giles (75–82)), has been planted with conifers. Diam. 52 ft., ht. 6 ft.

(25) Bowl (03761736), on Pentridge Down, lies on the N.W. slope of a spur among 'Celtic' fields (Group (85), p. 118) and actually within one of them (Plate 84). It is not clear from surface evidence if the barrow was built before or after the field had been laid out; the latter seems more likely. Diam. 50 ft., ht. 5 ft.

(26) Bowl (03091797), on a low ridge just N.W. of the village, has been much damaged by ploughing; former diam. 45 ft., ht. 4½ ft.

Two ring ditches, probably barrows, appear as soil marks on air photographs (C.U.A.P., ANE 7, 8). They lie close together in the dry valley immediately N. of the village.

(27) Barrow ? (03591811); about 55 ft. in diameter.

(28) Barrow ? (03641816); about 50 ft. in diameter.

Bokerley Down Group consists of four round barrows together with the three long barrows (20–22) which extend S.S.E. from the end of the Cursus. All but (32) have been much reduced by heavy ploughing.

(29) Bowl (04201871), close to the S.E. end of (20); diam. 45 ft., ht. 1½ ft.

(30) Bowl (04151892); former diam. 50 ft., ht. 1 ft.

(31) Bowl (04131895); diam. 50 ft., ht. 2 ft.

(32) Bowl (04161901), surviving as a rectangular island in arable; diam. 60 ft., ht. 5 ft.

Two barrows (Plate 56) lie close together on Blagdon Hill, just S. of Bokerley Dyke (16) and adjacent to Grim's Ditch (17). Both have been dug into in the past.

(33) Bowl (05371811), well preserved; diam. 58 ft., ht. 6 ft.; ditch 12 ft. wide and 1½ ft. deep.

(34) Bowl (05391811), N. side overlain by Grim's Ditch; diam. 38 ft., ht. 3½ ft.