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Archaeological Sites

Inhabited Charney maybe older than you think!

Oxfordshire County Council’s Heritage Search is a catalogue of Oxfordshire’s cultural and heritage resources. You can use it to find a wide range of materials relating to Oxfordshire’s past. The ‘Museums and Archaeology – Oxfordshire Historic Environment Record’  [HER] section is an index of all known archaeological and historical sites in the county. Relating to Charney Bassett it gives a number of ancient sites:

  • Ring ditches to the North West and to the East
  • An undated Trackway settlement to the North East
  • Two bronze age barrows
  • Undated prehistoric pits
  • Dense prehistoric settlement
  • Cherbury Camp
  • A Roman enclosure and pottery
  • A medieval moated site at Goosey Wick Farm.

There are also a number of areas of ridge and furrows around Charney with good examples at Poplars Farm.

Ring Ditch

There is a Prehistoric Ring Ditch in the field to the north of the Lyford Road. A Ring Ditch is a trench cut into bedrock. They are usually identified through aerial photography either as soil marks or crop marks. When excavated, ring ditches are usually found to be the ploughed‐out remains of a round barrow (burial place) where the barrow mound has completely disappeared, leaving only the infilled former quarry ditch.

The term is most often used as a generic description in cases where there is no clear evidence for the function of the site: for instance where it has been ploughed flat and is known only as a cropmark or a geophysical anomaly. The two most frequent monument types represented by ring ditches are roundhouses (where the ‘ditch’ is actually a foundation slot) and round barrows. The term is not normally used for larger features than these. Larger features would instead be described as ‘circular enclosures’. The square attached to the ring may be an enclosure of some sort but this is only supposition. It is interesting to note that is on the highest part of the fields (‘hill’) which are themselves almost entirely surrounded by watercourses.

It is very difficult to date it, but could be from the Iron Age (750 BC to 42 AD),

This image has been added to the Historical Environment Record.

Ring Ditch shown in white box
Ring Ditch shown in white box
Photo by Bruce Hedge

Another two ring ditches and other possible features appear just outside the village to the north of Buckland Road.

Buckland Road Ring Ditch
Buckland Road Ring Ditch


There are two Bronze Age Barrows (On slight ridge-1 mile NW of village ) north of Buckland Road. They are described as ‘two small mounds about 300m apart 5-6m in diameter and 1-1.5m high with trees growing on both’ and are clearly visible from the bridle track. They are dated as 2350BC – 701BC.

Two Barrows
Two Barrows

Prehistoric Pits and Settlements

Just to the south of Buckland Road:

Cited as ‘a group of pits is visible … in Aerial Photographs of c.1960 as dense swathes of pits. Pit 4000BC – 42AD. This and nearby enclosures (PRN 12078) seem to indicate dense prehistoric settlement’,

and just over the road to the north:

‘Dense Prehistoric Settlement Traces of rectilinear enclosures are visible on … Aerial Photographs. Enclosures and pits (see PRN 12077) seem to be indicative of a dense settlement, visible on earlier Aerial Photographs (c.1960). Settlement 4000BC – 42AD.’

See also the article by R Hingley under the ‘Cherbury Camp’ section which contains a sketch of an ‘open settlement’ 500m to the south west of Cherbury Camp.

Roman Enclosure

Cited as ‘Roman Enclosure and pottery surface scatter of Romano/British pottery over a small area with dateable sherds suggesting a C4th date for the enclosure’.


Roman Enclosure
Roman Enclosure

Historic England record it as Monument No. 229468: 

Pentagonal enclosure, with two-three attached huts or smaller enclosures, and trackway. Romano/British sherds found to NW. – A small Prehistoric or Roman settlement, mapped from good quality aerial photographs. Of the five enclosures identified (TG.16.18.1, TG.16.18.3, TG.16.18.6-8), TG.16.18.1 is the main enclosure. It is a five-sided polygonal enclosure, 52 m by 50 m, defined by a single ditch and with an east-facing entrance. The other four enclosures are all rectilinear and small, with a maximum dimension of 13 m. All four enclosures, plus the two hut circles mapped (TG.16.18.4-5) are internally or externally attached to the main five-sided enclosure, with the exception of the hut circle TG.16.18.4, which is free-standing within it. The diameters of the two hut circles are 7 m and 11 m respectively. A short length of ditch (TG.16.18.2) and eight small round pits (TG.16.18.9) are also associated with the settlement. Additionally the enclosure TG.16.18.6 contains an internal pit.

Moated Medieval site

Cited as ‘two adjacent square enclosures are visible as light soil marks on vertical Aerial Photographs. Moat 1066 – 1539’. This is given as south of the village to the east of Bagmere Barn at SU 3791 9406.

Ridge and Furrows

Ridge and Furrows, Poplars Farm
Ridge and Furrows, Poplars Farm 2009
Ridge Furrow 28 Nov 2016 [Hugh Brookes]
Ridge Furrow 28 Nov 2016 [Hugh Brookes]

Ridge and furrows can be seen around Charney with good examples at Poplars Farm, located just south of the River Ock and close by the east side of the Denchworth/Goosey road.

These are patterns of field ridges and troughs created by ploughing with non-reversible ploughs on the same strip of land each year. They are visible on land that was ploughed in the Middle Ages, but which has not been ploughed since. The ridges are parallel, older examples are often ‘S’ shaped at the ends where teams of oxen were turned.

Traditional ploughs turn the soil over in one direction clockwise around the strip. This has the effect of moving the soil towards the centre line. In the Middle Ages each strip was managed by a family. The movement of soil year after year gradually built the centre of the strip up into a ridge, leaving a dip, or “furrow” between each ridge. The ridges were much higher when in use and the ridges offered better drainage in a wet climate. The ridges are gradually fading and becoming flatter with time but can be picked out in the accompanying photographs as parallel stripes and some are ‘S’ shaped at the ends.