IN SAXON time when kings made grants of lands they issued a written charter to confirm this. These charters contain a description of the boundaries of the land. There are Saxon charters for both Romsey and Ampfield.

King Edgar granted the Romsey estate to Romsey Abbey in about 970. Ampfield was then called ‘Ticcensfeld’ which means ‘young goat enclosure’ and was part of a larger grant by Edward the Elder to Bishop Frithestan of Winchester in the early 10th century.

Where these two estates meet the Romsey charter describes the boundary as going along the Bishop’s mark or bank, the Ampfield charter refers to the boundary going along the ‘haga’. The word ‘haga’ usually refers to a ditch and bank with a hedge or palisade along it to prevent the escape of game. Elsewhere in the Ampfield charter there is a reference to a ‘holdingstowe’ which usually refers to a slaughtering place. It seems that in granting the Ampfield estate to the Bishop of Winchester the king was granting a source of game; deer, hares, perhaps even goats.

This bank has remained the boundary between the parishes of Romsey and Ampfield (previously part of Hursley) until the present day. The bank is also marked on the 1588 map of Merdon (Hursley) drawn by Ralph Treswell where he calls it “the Diche or bonnde between the two manors”,

Members of the Romsey Local History have been using LiDAR images of the landscape to study the detailed topography and noticed that the bank followed the line described in the Saxon boundary descriptions. They then made several expeditions to locate the bank on the ground. It may well have been repaired and re-dug many times to preserve the boundary but there is little doubt that in origin the bank is at least a thousand years old.

The bank can still be seen within the Hillier Gardens, where it crosses Jermyns Lane and along the Straight Mile. Along the Straight Mile the bank and ditch crosses the modern road and the substantial wooded strip along its edges at an oblique angle and is therefore visible for some considerable distance.

To take part in the Romsey Local History society residents are welcomed to attend their weekly workshops.

They take place every Monday from 10 am until noon and Tuesday from 7.30pm until 9.30pm.

These are informal drop-in sessions during which guests can look at the archives and discuss their interests.