On the northern edge of Cranborne Chase (Figures 1.1 and 4.1), there are two striking and dramatic chalk ridges separated by the Ebble valley, termed here the Ebble-Nadder ridge, to the north, and the Ox-Drove ridge, to the south. Overall, this landscape comprises four very different topographic worlds: (1) the ﬂat and relatively undifferentiated lowlands to the north and the west of the ridges; (2) the winding Ebble valley that divides the two ridges; (3) the ridgetops themselves (narrow and irregular with striking and often panoramic views); and (4) the secret and interiorised world of the coombes (dry river valleys). The study that follows is a detailed account of the locations of round barrows and spur and cross-ridge dykes in the landscape. It is based on ﬁeldwork undertaken over a period of eighteen months and has involved repeated and regular visits to the places discussed, as well as walks between them and up and over the ridge, along its steep northern escarpment and the coombes that cut into it. The interpretative framework put forward could never have arisen without this personal physical experience and knowledge of place; creating this framework would be absolutely impossible just using a map. The
landscape itself and the barrows and dykes in it exerted their own agency, or effects, in my experience and perception of them. I would like to claim that they both inﬂuenced and constrained what became possible to write. In this sense, they are the mute co-authors of this and the other chapters in this book.