Another visit to this varied site which is still the border between Hampshire and Dorset. This time I was interested in the southern end around Blagdon hill and the junction with Grim's ditch. At this point there are two pairs of round barrows either side of the dyke.
It is here that Bokerley is at its most impressive, the bank and ditch are at their highest and deepest at this place. This would be a major civil engineering feat now and must have taken huge effort in pre-history. In length it is the equivalent of several large hillforts. It enabled the romanised tribe of Dorset to remain largely untouched by the post roman saxon invaders until about 700 c.e.
What a busy little bit of Hampshire this is! The Counties of Dorset and Wiltshire meet, the Dorset Cursus approaches from the SW,the Ditch(Dyke?) forms the boundary in association with Grim's Ditch, a Long Barrow, tumuli and enclosures and a finely prominent aggar of the Roman Road.
A short walk SE shows that the earthwork is still very well defined and preserved, on the NE(Hants) side a deep ditch, on the SW(Dorset) side a smallish bank, Which was the defended side? Grim's Ditch marks the boundary of a vast Bronze Age ranch so it would be nice to know which earthwork came first.
Disabled: Difficult from where I parked in the lay-by on the A354. However, my old map didn't show the new parking area shown on Streetmap. Where I walked was flat but bumpy.
The dyke as it stands in its current form is a Romano-Britsh defensive earthwork. However H.C. Bowen in the excellent book "The Archaeology of Bokerley Dyke" gives a good argument for a much earlier origin. He argues that in the Bronze age the dyke was a cultural boundary which can be shown by the differences between types of round barrow which only occur either side of the ditch.
The bronze age date has also been partially confirmed by excavated finds, the similarity of Neolithic long barrows on both sides of the dyke show no significant difference in typology / culture at that time. There are problems with finds because of the confused stratigraphy caused by the different stages in the developement of the dyke. It was greatly deepened and heightened at a later stage of its history.
This snake like ditch and bank marks the border of Durotrigian territory from that of their tribal neighbours the Belgae. It can be traced for c. 5 km. on O.S. Explorer 118. It can be followed on foot for most of its length. To the west of it can be seen a long barrow,about 50m. in length, this is itself only about 50m. south of the end of the Dorset Cursus. It is reckoned pre-Roman in origin, re-built and strengthened after the Romans left. There is what appears to be a very well preserved earthwork at right angles to it on the eastern side, don't be fooled it's a 20th century rifle range.
The excellent ‘Hampshire Treasures’ resource suggests that only a small part of this exists in this area, but more exists if you go south east. If you follow the map west even the ‘course of’ peters out pretty quickly (unlike the nearby Grim’s Ditch). The resource says “Celtic Field Boundary Lines - SU036197 - Iron Age - North east of Bokerley Gap. Ditch 10.0 m. in width. Only 300 m. now survive” - then it gives more info elsewhere "Bokerley Dyke. SU032198. Scheduled Ancient Monumnet, no.261. A defensive work. Bears a close resemblance to Grim's Ditch but is of modest dimensions in this area, until it reaches Blagdon Hill."
Blagdon Hill is presumably the Hill around SU055176 (2-3km to the south West)