About four hundred yards to the west of Soles is Three Barrow Downs, historically called Rowbergh and Rowberry Butts, taking its name from the three barrows in the shave adjacent to the ancient track way that is now part of the North Downs Way and known locally as “The Roman Road”. In the adjoining field to the north of the barrows is evidence of a pre-Roman settlement on Ruberry Downs, an alternative name for Three Barrow Downs to the north of “The Roman Road”, now in Womenswold parish. On older maps (see 1870’s OS map below) Three Barrow Down runs from “The Roman Road” to Nightingale Lane, Nonington.
Rowbergh, Rowbery, Ruberry ect. possibly derives from the OE, “rough bury” meaning rough or scrub covered hill or mound(s), although Bryan Faussett in his book “Inventorium Sepulchrale” published in 1856 thought that the name derived from “” Romes berig Butts”, meaning “the butts at the Roman burial place”. This would give an explanation of the origin of “The Roman Road’s” name.
Above:-Three Barrow Downs and Soles in the 1870’s. The London, Chatham and Dover railway line cuts Soles Butts of from Upper Soles Wood and divides Three Barrow Downs into two parts, the northern part became known as Ruberries Wood.
Burial mounds were often referred to as butts, and made ideal target butts for practising archery. The present Soles Butts, the shave running north from the barrows to the railway line which now separates it from Soles Wood, would also appear to have a similar origin, although the butts may originally have referred to a plough ridge separating Soles land from adjacent Oxenden land. These ridges are also referred to as butts, as they occur where individual lands ” butt” together and were formed by the ancient method of clockwise ploughing which resulted in ridges, or butts, forming along the boundary between two fields or cultivated strips from the soil thrown up from the furrows, which went in opposite directions, and over the years a sizeable butt could be thrown up. Some are still visible locally where they have evolved into ‘listways’ (raised foot-ways and horse-ways) along the boundaries of ancient fields. However, the width of the Soles Butts shave would appear to preclude ploughing as having formed Soles Butts.
Man made ditched banks with hedges or fences on the top were often marked where manorial holdings bordered or “butted” against each other, and could be several feet high as with the still visible Holt Street butts. Soles Butts may have originally been a ditch, forming a boundary with the adjoining Oxenden and Woollege manors although there are no to be expected obvious remains of a bank or ditch in the shave, which actually originates in the small wood containing the burial mounds so it seems most likely that the Soles Butts shave derives name its from the butts or burial mounds.
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