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Excavations at a Neolithic Enclosure on The Peak, near Birdlip, Gloucestershire

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 March 2013

Timothy Darvill
Affiliation:
Archaeology Group, School of Applied Sciences, Bournemouth University, Fern Barrow, Poole, Dorset BH12 5BB, UK
Alex Bayliss
Affiliation:
English Heritage, 1 Waterhouse Square, 138–42 Holborn, London EC1N 2ST, UK
Debra Costen
Affiliation:
Archaeology Group, School of Applied Sciences, Bournemouth University, Fern Barrow, Poole, Dorset BH12 5BB, UK
Ellen Hambleton
Affiliation:
Archaeology Group, School of Applied Sciences, Bournemouth University, Fern Barrow, Poole, Dorset BH12 5BB, UK
Frances Healy
Affiliation:
20 The Green, Charlbury, Oxfordshire OX7 3QA, UK
Rupert A. Housley
Affiliation:
Department of Archaeology, Gregory Building, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK
Linda O'Connell
Affiliation:
Archaeology Group, School of Applied Sciences, Bournemouth University, Fern Barrow, Poole, Dorset BH12 5BB, UK
Mark Pollard
Affiliation:
Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, Dyson Perrins Building, Oxford University, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3QY
Nicola Snashall
Affiliation:
Alexander Keiller Museum, High Street, Avebury, nr Marlborough, Wiltshire SN8 1RF, UK
Alasdair Whittle
Affiliation:
Department of Archaeology & Conservation, Cardiff University, Humanities Building, Colum Drive, Cardiff CF10 3EV, UK
Timothy Darvill
Affiliation:
Archaeology Group, School of Applied Sciences, Bournemouth University, Fern Barrow, Poole, Dorset BH12 5BB, UK
Lorna Gray
Affiliation:
Cotswold Archaeology, Building 11, Kemble Enterprise Park, Cirencester, Gloucestershire GL7 6BQ, UK

Abstract

Surveys and excavations in 1980–1 confirmed Peak Camp as a Neolithic enclosure on a flat promontory of the Cotswold escarpment overlooking the Severn Valley just 1 km south of Crickley Hill. Although heavily eroded by quarrying the site can be reconstructed as having two concentric arcs of boundary earthworks forming an oval plan which was probably open to the north where a steep natural slope defined the edge of the site. A section through the outer boundary showed four main phases of ditch construction, at least one causewayed. An extensive series of radiocarbon dates shows construction began in the late 37th century cal bc and probably continued through successive remodellings into the 33rd century cal bc or beyond. An internal ditch or elongated pit situated in the area between the inner and outer boundary earthworks had a similar history. Where sampled, the ditch and internal feature were rich in material culture, including a substantial assemblage of plain bowl pottery; flint implements and working waste; animal remains dominated by cattle but including also the remains of a cat; human foot bones; slight traces of cereal production; a fragment of a Group VI axe; part of a sandstone disc; and a highly unusual shale arc pendant of continental type. It is suggested that the ditch fills represent selectively redeposited midden material from within the site that started to accumulate in the late 5th or early 4th millennium cal bc. The construction and use of Peak Camp is contemporary with activity on Crickley Hill, and the two sites probably formed components of a single complex. Its use was also contemporary with the deposition of burials at local long barrows in the Cotswold-Severn tradition which are linked by common ceramic traditions and the selective deposition of human body parts.

Résumé

Des prospections et des fouilles en 1980–1 ont confirmé que Peak Camp était un enclos néolithique sur un promontoire plat de l'escarpement des Cotswold dominant la vallée de la Severn à juste 1km au sud de Crickley Hill. Bien que fortement érodé par l'extraction de pierres, on peut reconstituer le site comme comprenant deux arcs concentriques de levées de terre limitrophes formant un plan oval qui s'ouvrait probablement au nord où une pente raide naturelle marquait le bord du site. Une coupe à travers la limite extérieure a mis en évidence quatre phases principales de construction de fossé, au moins une était empiérrée. Une série extensive de datations au C14 montre que la construction commença à la fin du 37e siècle av.J.-C. cal et se prolongea probablement, subissant des modifications successives, jusqu'au 33e siècle av.J.-C. cal.ou plus tard. Un fossé interne ou une fosse allongée située dans la zone entre les talus limitrophes interne et externe avait une histoire similaire. Là où on a pris des échantillons, le fossé et les vestiges internes recelaient une riche culture matérielle, y compris un assemblage substantiel de bols non décorés en céramique; des outils en silex et des résidus de travail; des restes animaux surtout de bétail mais comprenant aussi les restes d'un chat, des os de pied humain; quelques traces de production céréalière, un fragment d'une hache du groupe VI; une partie d'un disque en grès; un pendant extrèmement inhabituel en forme d'arc en schiste de type continental. On propose que le contenu du fossé représente une sélection de matériel, provenant du tas d'ordures à l'intérieur du site, sélectionné et redéposé là, qui avait commencé à s'accumuler vers la fin du 5e ou au début du 4e millénaire av. J.-C.cal. La construction et l'utilisation de Peak Camp coïncident avec l'activité à Crickley Hill, et les deux sites constituaient probablement les composantes d'un seul complexe. Son usage coïncidait aussi avec le dépôt d'inhumations dans les tertres allongés de la région dans la tradition Cotswolds Severn que lient des traditions communes de céramique et de dépôt sélectif de parties du corps humain.

Zussamenfassung

Surveys und Grabungen in den Jahren 1980–81 bestätigten, dass Peak Camp ein neolithisches Grabenwerk ist, das auf einem flachen Sporn der Cotswold-Abbruchkante liegt, der das Tal des Severn etwa einen Kilometer südlich von Crickley Hill überblickt. Obwohl der Ort bereits durch Steinbrucharbeiten stark geschädigt ist, kann rekonstruiert werden, dass der Fundplatz zwei konzentrische Bögen aus Erdwerken besitzt, die ein Oval formen, das wahrscheinlich nach Norden offen war, wo ein natürlicher Steilhang die Grenze des Platzes bestimmte. Ein Schnitt durch das äußere Erdwerk zeigte vier Hauptphasen, in denen der Graben erstellt wurde, eine davon mit einer Erdbrücke als Durchgang. Eine umfangreiche Serie von Radiokarbondaten zeigt, dass im späten 37. Jh. cal. bc mit dem Bau begonnen wurde und das Bauwerk wahrscheinlich bis ins 33. Jh. oder darüber hinaus mehrere Umbauphasen erfuhr. Eine ähnliche Geschichte erlebte ein innerer Graben oder eine Langgrube, gelegen zwischen innerem und äußerem Erdwerk. Wo immer Proben genommen wurden, enthielten die Gräben reichhaltiges Material, darunter ein substanzielles Ensemble von Plain Bowl Pottery, Feuersteingeräte und -abschläge, tierische Überreste, überwiegend von Rindern, aber auch von einer Katze, menschliche Fußknochen, geringe Spuren von Getreideproduktion, ein Fragment einer Axt vom Typ Group VI, ein Teil einer Sandsteinscheibe, sowie ein sehr ungewöhnlicher bogenförmiger Schieferanhänge kontinentalen Typs. Es liegt nahe, dass die Grabenfüllungen selektiv eingefülltes Abfallmaterial aus dem Inneren des Platzes darstellen, das sich im späten 5. oder frühen 4. Jts. cal. bc angesammelt hatte. Die Erbauung und Nutzung von Peak Camp ist zeitgleich mit jener von Crickley Hill, und beide Plätze bildeten vermutlich Bestandteile des gleichen Komplexes. Seine Nutzung war zudem zeitgleich mit Bestattungen in lokalen Langhügelgräbern der Cotswold-Severn-Tradition, die durch gemeinsame Keramiktraditionen und die selektive Bestattung menschlicher Körperteile miteinander verbunden sind.

Resumen

Unas prospecciones y excavaciones en los años 1980–1 confirmaron que Peak Camp es un recinto neolítico en un altiplano de la vertiente de los Cotswold que mira hacia el valle del Severn, a solo 1 km al sur de Crickley Hill. Aunque el yacimiento está muy erosionado a causa de la extracción de piedra en una cantera, sin embargo se puede reconstruir su forma como la de dos arcos concéntricos de terraplenes de planimetría ovalada abierta probablemente hacia el norte donde una empinada cuesta natural definía el límite del yacimiento. Una sección del borde externo reveló cuatro fases principales en la construcción del foso, de las cuales al menos una era del tipo “causeway”. Una extensa serie de dataciones al carbono-14 indica que la construcción comenzó a finales del siglo XXXVII cal a.C. y que probablemente continuó a través de sucesivas remodelaciones hasta el siglo XXXIII cal a.C. o más tarde incluso. Un foso interno o trinchera alargada emplazada en el área entre los terraplenes interior y exterior tuvo una historia de desarrollo similar. En los sitios en los que se han hecho exploraciones, tanto en el foso como el elemento interno, se encontró gran abundancia de cultura material, que incluía un importante conjunto de cerámica de cuencos sencillos; útiles de sílex y desechos de talla; restos de animales en los que abundaba el ganado bovino pero que incluían también los restos de un gato; huesos humanos pertenecientes a un pie; algunos indicios del cultivo de cereales; un fragmento de un hacha del Grupo VI; parte de un disco de arenisca; y un muy inusual colgante en arco de pizarra de tipo continental. Este estudio sugiere que los depósitos de relleno del foso están formados por material de basurero del interior del yacimiento, selectivamente re-depositado, que había comenzado a acumularse hacia finales del V o comienzos del IV milenio cal a.C. La construcción y uso de Peak Camp son contemporáneos con la actividad en Crickley Hill, y los dos yacimientos probablemente fueron partes de un único complejo. Su uso es también contemporáneo con los enterramientos en túmulos alargados locales dentro de la tradición Costwold-Severn, que están vinculados por tradiciones cerámicas comunes y la deposición selectiva de partes de cuerpos humanos.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Prehistoric Society 2011

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