On 31st July this year, as part of the Festival of British Archaeology, Tom Sunley (Historic Environment Records Data Manager) and I led a tour of a section of the Wansdyke in Wiltshire. Our focus of the walk was looking at the most impressive part of the Wansdyke which runs from Morgan’s Hill to the western edge of Savernake Forest (known as the eastern Wansdyke), across the stunning landscape of the Marlborough Downs, see map below.
We had a great turn out of people and were blessed with a pleasant summer's day. We started the walk from Knapp Hill car park, SU 11570 63822, just over a mile north of Alton Barnes and walked up to Tan Hill which affords the best views of this section of the East Wansdyke.
From Tan Hill we headed east back along the Wansdyke path to Red Shore then headed south down the byway back to the car park. In total this circular walk is approximately 5 miles long.
The Wansdyke is a long linear defensive earthwork consisting of a substantial bank and ditch. At its most impressive on Bishop’s Cannings Down it is over 45 m wide, with a bank of over 5 m, producing a scarp slope of 12.5 m. Whilst there is still some debate over the exact western terminal, it is generally considered to be the hillfort of Maes Knoll in north Somerset and at its eastern end Savernake Forest near Marlborough.
The Archaeology Team are preparing again to organise some events to celebrate the annual Festival of British Archaeology. Due to poplar demand, this year the team are organising three weekend archaeological walks to different areas of archaeological interest across Wiltshire.
Sunday 13th July: guided walk to the Easton Grey Roman settlement near Malmesbury with Melanie Pomeroy-Kellinger and Clare King
Sunday 20th July: guided walk in the Stonehenge landscape with Rachel Foster and Tom Sunley (please note this walk not include a visit to the visitor centre and stone circle which can be done separately)
Saturday 26th July: guided walk to Knapp Hill, Adam’s Grave in the Vale of Pewsey with Faye Glover and Emma Whitcombe.
The walks will include some of Wiltshire’s best known prehistoric monuments in the Stonehenge landscape, including Woodhenge, Durrington Walls and the Stonehenge Avenue. The walk in the Pewsey Vale will include the magnificent views from Adam’s Grave Neolithic Long Barrow and Knap Hill. The walk at Easton Grey will focus on the Roman remains in North Wiltshire and the Cotswolds and will include a walk along the Fosse Way Roman Road.