Milton Hill and Down
Area to the South of Pewsey in Wiltshire; on the northern side the area follows the bottom of the chalk escarpment and downland of Salisbury Plain encompassing Pewsey Hill and Milton Hill.
There are notable Prehistoric funerary monuments including Bronze Age round barrows and extensive areas of prehistoric field systems and related settlements. Areas of open unimproved chalk grassland survive on the steeper chalk escarpments and hilltops. These are an important survival of the earlier pre 1700 landscape. Small pockets of 1700 to 1900 parliamentary enclosures survive notably along the bottom of the chalk escarpment to the North on the greensand terrace and around Everleigh Ashes.
Present Day Historic Landscape Character
The area is dominated by Post 1900 enclosure. This consists of two types, to the North linear ladder style fields with straight boundaries running from the Vale up the sides of the chalk escarpment to the edge of the higher downland. This represents modified 18th and 19th century parliamentary enclosure. Beyond this to the South, the fields are much more irregular with semi-irregular boundaries following the micro-topography of the downland. These are new fields created in the 20th century from former open chalk downland.
Areas of open unimproved chalk grassland survive on the steeper chalk escarpments and hilltops. These are associated with small regular plantations of woodland planted from 1800 onwards.
Another distinctive feature are the parallel droveways which run North-West to South-East across the landscape providing access from the nucleated historic villages of the Vale of Pewsey to the downland above. These are heavily abraded in places; further up on the higher downland the impact of the military is felt in the presence of multiple criss-crossing tracks.
There are small pockets of 1700 to 1900 parliamentary enclosures surviving, notably along the bottom of the chalk escarpment to the North on the greensand terrace and around Everleigh Ashes. Everleigh Ashes itself is associated with and area of pre 1600 woodland surrounded by 1600-1800 woodland expansion and replanted ancient woodland all of which is inside the Defence Training Estate.
Layers in the Landscape
The dominant archaeological traces in this area are prehistoric, often surviving as extant monuments. This relates to the fact that the area was grazed unenclosed chalk grassland during the Medieval and early Post Medieval period meaning that these monuments were not subject to ploughing until post 1700. Typical archaeology includes prehistoric funerary monuments including Bronze Age round barrows and extensive areas of prehistoric field systems and related settlements. These date to the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age but not all have been formally dated. The late enclosure of downland areas and the subsequent recent ploughing means that there is a strong likelihood for prehistoric sites and finds to be identified through aerial photographic interpretation and field walking. This is supported by the density of find spots especially across the Northern half of the area.
Prior to 1700 this area was dominated by open chalk downland with pockets of scrub, furze and ancient woodland, exploited for grazing and fuel by people living in the settlements in the vale below. This historic character survives in the pockets of open chalk downland notably linear areas following the sides of the steep chalk escarpments. A small area of enclosure was created prior to 1700 around Milton Hill Farm but the first large scale areas to be enclosed and converted to arable post 1700 were at the foot of the chalk escarpments and up its sides. The outlines of these parliamentary enclosure fields survive although their internal patterns have been modified in the last 100 years. This enclosure pattern spread laterally in the later 19th century through less regular post-parliamentary enclosure. Enclosure did not spread to the high downland areas until the 20th century when irregular new fields were created and the chalk grassland ploughed up to create arable land . This coincided with the establishment of regular woodland plantations, a pattern which began in the 19th century.
Historic Settlement Character
Settlement is extremely scarce consisting of isolated farms located at the top of the chalk escarpments and chalk hills.
Historic Farmstead Character
Farms and farm buildings do not start to appear in this area until the 18th century representing expansion of arable farming into downland areas and the replacement of the former sheep dominated agricultural regimes, even then they are isolated and small, associated with loose courtyard plans or represented by single field barns.