Chancefield Wood earthworks

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Building summary
[photo awaited]
Name Chancefield Wood earthworks
Other names The Trenches
Date Late mediaeval
OS grid ref NO 23426 07930
Latitude & longitude 56°15'27"N 3°14'15"W

Chancefield Wood earthworks, also known as The Trenches, is a group of large ditches south-east of Chancefield.

HES scheduled monument designation details[1]
Reference: SM11013 Date: 29/06/2004 Type: Secular: ditch (non-defensive)
Address/Site Name

Chancefield Wood earthworks, SE of Chancefield


The monument consists of an extensive group of V-shaped ditches cut into ground that slopes from SE to NW. The ditches in general are aligned SE-NW but, on plan, converge slightly as they progress downslope.

The ditches are first recorded on an estate plan of the mid-eighteenth century in which they are recorded as having a more extensive and a more convergent ground-plan. It is obvious from this document that the original function was unknown to its author. Other documentary and place-name evidence indicates that the ditches were in use at least in the late sixteenth century. The original purpose for construction is not known but circumstantial evidence points to their use in the large-scale management of deer for export and hunting. [...]

Statement of national importance

The monument is of national importance as an extremely rare example of early deer management by a lordly estate. The importance of the monument is enhanced by documentary and place-name evidence, offering further evidence for its use as a tool for the management of deer. It is likely that the ditch complex was used in the selection of live deer for hunting, possibly with associations to contemporary Scottish royalty, within the estate and for the export of live deer to other estates.

Further references

"Because they lie so close to the old route from Falkland westwards, the NMRS suggests that they are hollow-ways, that is very old tracks whic have left deep grooves or trenches in the landscape. [...] For various reasons this explanation is unsustainable, not least because of the high number of trenches involved, and because there is evidence that some bedrock has been cut away in at least one of the trenches. [...] The most likely hypothesis is that they were created in the late middle ages as part of the royal deer management strategy."[2]