Monument record EXG 072 - Newmarket Heath; Newmarket Racecourse; Devils Ditch

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Summary

Scheduled Monument - Devil's Ditch linear defensive ditch. A linear earthwork which extends over a distance of 11 kms from Reach (TL5680366044) northwest to southeast to Ditton Green (TL6532458374). It is the largest of four contemporary, Anglo-Saxon linear earthworks generally referred to as the Cambridgeshire Dykes; Bran Ditch (Monument HOB UID 1043124), Brent Ditch (Monument HOB UID 374066) and Fleam Dyke (Monument HOB UID 1043634). Recent research, published in 1997, found that the earliest phase at Fleam Dyke has been radiocarbon dated to the 5th century AD with later phases dated to the 6th century. By analogy the three other dykes are assumed to be of a similar date. Comparison of the size and design of the four dykes supports the interpretation of defensive barries, however, routeways and land divisions are also feasible. The bank and ditch survive as earthwork, around 4 metres below the present ground level and up to 6 metres above present ground level. It is best preserved on Galley Hill near Burwell, where it survives to a height of about 10.5 metres from the base of the ditch to the top of the bank. Excavations recorded the ditch to be flat-bottomed and 7 metres wide. Evidence from excavations indicate this was a single phase monument with a bank raised above a ditch with sloping sides. There was no evidence of it being ramparted.

Location

Grid reference Centred TL 6006 6305 (2028m by 1722m) (Centred on)
Map sheet TL66SW
Civil Parish NEWMARKET, FOREST HEATH, SUFFOLK
Civil Parish EXNING, FOREST HEATH, SUFFOLK
County CAMBRIDGESHIRE

Map

Type and Period (2)

Full Description

Devil's Ditch linear defensive ditch. NE side of bank transferred to Suffolk (?) from Cambridgeshire with county boundary change in April 1995. SAM (CB 5). According to English Heritage they state (erroneously) that the whole monument is still within Cambridgeshire (S1). Details in (S2).
For details see (R1)(R2).

From NRHE record:
The Devils Dyke is a massive linear defensive earthwork 7.5 miles long running NW - SE, comprising a large bank, 12 - 18 feet high and up to 70 feet wide with a deep ditch on the SW side up to 17 feet deep and 65 feet wide. Very good state of preservation. Coin of 350 AD found predating the construction of the bank.

Devils Dyke extends over a distance of 11 kms from Reach (TL5680366044) northwest to southeast to Ditton Green (TL6532458374). It is the largest of four contemporary, Anglo-Saxon linear earthworks generally referred to as the Cambridgeshire Dykes; Bran Ditch (Monument HOB UID 1043124), Brent Ditch (Monument HOB UID 374066) and Fleam Dyke (Monument HOB UID 1043634). Recent research published in 1997 (2) found that the earliest phase at Fleam Dyke has been radiocarbon dated to the 5th century AD with later phases dated to the 6th century. By analogy the three other dykes are assumed to be of a similar date. Comparison of the size and design of the four dykes supports the interpretation of defensive barries, however, routeways and land divisions are also feasible.

The bank and ditch survive as earthwork, around 4 metres below the present ground level and up to 6 metres above present ground level. It is best preserved on Galley Hill near Burwell, where it survives to a height of about 10.5 metres from the base of the ditch to the top of the bank. Excavations recorded the ditch to be flat-bottomed and 7 metres wide. Evidence from excavations indicate this was a single phase monument with a bank raised above a ditch with sloping sides. There was no evidence of it being ramparted. (2)The Devils Dyke is a massive linear defensive earthwork 7.5 miles long running NW - SE, comprising a large bank, 12 - 18 feet high and up to 70 feet wide with a deep ditch on the SW side up to 17 feet deep and 65 feet wide. Very good state of preservation. Coin of 350 AD found predating the construction of the bank.

Devils Dyke extends over a distance of 11 kms from Reach (TL5680366044) northwest to southeast to Ditton Green (TL6532458374). It is the largest of four contemporary, Anglo-Saxon linear earthworks generally referred to as the Cambridgeshire Dykes; Bran Ditch (Monument HOB UID 1043124), Brent Ditch (Monument HOB UID 374066) and Fleam Dyke (Monument HOB UID 1043634). Recent research published in 1997 (2) found that the earliest phase at Fleam Dyke has been radiocarbon dated to the 5th century AD with later phases dated to the 6th century. By analogy the three other dykes are assumed to be of a similar date. Comparison of the size and design of the four dykes supports the interpretation of defensive barries, however, routeways and land divisions are also feasible.

The bank and ditch survive as earthwork, around 4 metres below the present ground level and up to 6 metres above present ground level. It is best preserved on Galley Hill near Burwell, where it survives to a height of about 10.5 metres from the base of the ditch to the top of the bank. Excavations recorded the ditch to be flat-bottomed and 7 metres wide. Evidence from excavations indicate this was a single phase monument with a bank raised above a ditch with sloping sides. There was no evidence of it being ramparted.

Sources/Archives (6)

  • <M1> Scheduling record: English Heritage. Scheduled Ancient Monument file. (S2).
  • <R1> (No record type): Dept of National Heritage, Scheduling Information, CAM 005.
  • <S1> (No record type): English Heritage, Ellis P, letter to SAU (Pendleton C), May 1997, maps.
  • <R2> (No record type): Cambs CC, SMR.
  • <S2> Unpublished document: English Heritage. Jephcote J, note + scheduling information maps, CB 5, Aug 2001.
  • <S3> Digital archive: Historic England. National Record Of the Historic Environment.

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Record last edited

Jun 15 2021 11:09AM

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