The Damerham Site

Cranborne Chase is one of the most famous later prehistoric landscapes in Europe. Yet new discoveries continue to come to light in this well known area, extending knowledge of prehistory in exciting new directions.

In 2003, an aerial survey by Martyn Barber revealed an extraordinary complex of cropmarks close to the Chase at Damerham in the far west of Hampshire.

Aerial photograph of Damerham crop marks

NMR 21271/05 © English Heritage.NMR. Photographer: Damian Grady.

The cropmarks focus on a circular enclosure (57m dia.) defined by a substantial ditch 5m across. Surrounding and to the south east of the enclosure are at least 26 ring ditches and barrows. Among these are two sets of conjoined ring ditches - one set containing circular post settings. An oval ditch nearby suggests the remains of a Neolithic oval barrow or mortuary enclosure. At the south east edge of the complex is a long mound (78m long) flanked by two ditches, to the north a prehistoric field system.

Many of these sites seem likely to prove Neolithic or Bronze Age in date. The long mound suggests an Early Neolithic date, while the circular enclosure is comparable with Late Neolithic henges excavated at nearby Knowlton. Unfortunately these remarkable remains are suffering plough damage, which is progressively eroding the archaeological deposits.