Ballard Down

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Ballard Down
Highest point
Elevation 162 m (531 ft)
Prominence c. 65 m
Listing (none)
Location Purbeck Hills, England
OS grid SZ025812
Ballard Down is located in Dorset
Ballard Down
Ballard Down shown within Dorset
(grid reference SZ025812)

Ballard Down is an area of chalk downland on the Purbeck Hills in the English county of Dorset. The hills meet the English Channel here, and Ballard Down forms a headland, Ballard Point, between Studland Bay to the north and Swanage Bay to the south. The chalk here forms part of a system of chalk downlands in southern England, and once formed a continuous ridge between what is now west Dorset and the present day Isle of Wight. Old Harry Rocks, just offshore from the dip slope of the down, and The Needles on the westernmost tip of the Isle of Wight, are remnants of this ridge. The scarp slope of the down faces south, over Swanage, meeting the sea as Ballard Cliff.

The obelisk at Ballard Down
World War 2 plaque

The down was an area of calcareous grassland for up to 1000 years until World War II, when there was a sudden rise in the need for arable agricultural land. The down is now owned by the National Trust, and has largely been returned to grassland. The National Trust allows grazing on the down to prevent it becoming a natural beech woodland climax community.

The obelisk at Ballard Down commemorates the provision of a new supply of drinking water for Swanage in 1883. It was taken down in 1941 as it was a landmark that might have aided enemy aircraft during World War II, but was re-erected in 1952.

Ballard Down forms the easternmost part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, which stretches for 155 kilometres (96 mi), from Orcombe Point near Exmouth, in the west, to Old Harry Rocks.[1] The coastal exposures along the coastline comprise a continuous sequence of Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous rock formations spanning about 185 million years. The Jurassic Coast includes a large range of important fossil zones.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Dorset and East Devon Coast". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. 2001. Archived from the original on 22 February 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-14. 

Coordinates: 50°37′50″N 1°57′58″W / 50.63049°N 1.96601°W / 50.63049; -1.96601