Prehistoric Linear Boundary Earthworks

Introductions to Heritage Assets

An introduction to prehistoric linear boundary earthworks.

Prehistoric linear earthworks range in length from a few tens of metres to more than 80 km (50 miles). Many of the shorter and straighter examples are so-called ‘cross-dykes’ or ‘cross-ridge dykes’, which span narrow necks of land, running between steep slopes or sheer escarpments.

Descriptions of prehistoric linear boundary earthworks and their development along with a brief chronology are included. Linear earthworks may relate directly to various artificial features, such as burial monuments and hillforts. So-called ‘multiple ditch systems’ share certain characteristics with oppida; namely, they are also of Late Iron Age origin and appear to have bounded areas where a wide range of settlement, economic, political and religious activities took place.


  • Summary
  • Introduction
  • Description
  • Chronology
  • Development of the asset type
  • Associations
  • Further reading
  • Where to get advice

Additional Information

  • Series: Guidance
  • Publication Status: Completed
  • Pages: 16
  • Product Code: HEAG219


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