Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-559fc8cf4f-s5ss2 Total loading time: 0.387 Render date: 2021-03-02T14:33:03.238Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": false, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true }

Towards a reappraisal of henge monuments: origins, evolution and hierarchies

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 February 2014

T. Clare
County Planning Department, Cumbria County Council, Kendal, Cumbria LA9 4RQ


A simple derivation of henges from causewayed camps is rejected. Attention is also drawn to a range of neolithic structures, some covered by a mound, some not. Though interpreted as mortuary structures, they have affinities to henges. Henges may thus best be derived from a broad tradition of neolithic structures; this may in turn have been part of a more widely distributed north-west European tradition of both ritual and domestic structures. Within Britain, similarities of form and function suggest that henges should be seen as a parallel development to ring banks, ring ditches and stone circles. Regional preferences rather than distinct regional types of monuments emerged. Later survival of henge traditions into the first millennium is also discussed.

Research Article
Copyright © The Prehistoric Society 1987

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below.


Alcock, L., 1972. By South Cadbury, is that Camelot… Excavations at Cadbury Castle 1966–70.Google Scholar
Ashbee, P., 1960. The Bronze Age Round Barrow in Britain.Google Scholar
Ashbee, P., 1970. The Earthen Long Barrow in Britain.Google Scholar
Atkinson, R. J. C., Piggott, S. and Sandars, N. K., 1951. Excavations at Dorchester, Oxon.Google Scholar
Atkinson, R. J. C., 1956. Stonehenge.Google Scholar
Barrett, J., 1976. ‘Deverel Rimbury: problems of chronology and interpretation’, in Burgess, and Miket, 1976, 289308.Google Scholar
Becker, C. J., 1969. ‘Problems of the Megalithic Mortuary Houses in Denmark’, in Daniel, and Kjaerum, 1969, 7579.Google Scholar
Behrens, H., 1981. ‘The first Woodhenge in Middle Europe’, Antiquity, 55, 172–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bradley, R. J., 1981. ‘Various styles of urn — cemeteries and settlement in southern England c. 1400–1000 bc’, in Chapman, et al. 1981, 93104.Google Scholar
Brewster, T. C. M., 1975. ‘Garton Slack’, Current Archaeol. 5, 104–15.Google Scholar
Burgess, C., 1974. ‘The Bronze Age’, in Renfrew, 1974, 165232.Google Scholar
Burgess, C. and Miket, R., 1976. Settlement and economy in the third and second millenium B.C. British Arch. Rep. Brit. Ser. 33.Google Scholar
Burgess, C., and Shennan, S., 1976. ‘The Beaker phenomenon: some suggestions’, in Burgess, and Miket, 1976, 309–26.Google Scholar
Burl, H. A. W., 1969. ‘Henges: internal structures and regional groups’, Archaeol. J. 126, 128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Burl, H. A. W., 1974. ‘The recumbent stone circles of North-east Scotland’, Proc. Soc. Antiq. Scotland 102 (1969–70), 5681.Google Scholar
Burl, H. A. W., 1976. The stone circles of the British Isles.Google Scholar
Case, H. J., 1963 in Case, and Hamlin, , ‘Excavations of ring ditches and other sites at Stanton Harcourt’, Oxoniensia 28, 152.Google Scholar
Case, H. J., 1969. ‘A ritual site in North-east Ireland’, in Daniel, and Kjaerum, , 1969, 173–96.Google Scholar
Case, H. J. and Whittle, A. W. R., 1982. Settlement patterns in the Oxford region; excavations at the Abingdon cause-wayed enclosure and other sites, CBA Research Report 44.Google Scholar
Catherall, P. D., 1971. ‘Henges in perspective’, Archaeol. J., 127, 147–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chapman, R., Kinnes, I. and Randsborg, K., (eds) 1981. The archaeology of death.Google Scholar
Childe, V. G., 1949. ‘The origin of neolithic culture in Northern Europe’, Antiquity 23, 129–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Clare, T., 1973. Aspects of the Stone Circles and Kindred Monuments of North-west England. Unpub. Univ. of Liverpool thesis, May 1973.Google Scholar
Clare, T., 1984. Interim note on a study of the Langdale axe factory sites. Cumbria SMR.Google Scholar
Clare, T., 1986. ‘Towards a reappraisal of henge monuments’, Proc. Prehist. Soc. 52, 281316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Clark, J. G. D., 1936. ‘The timber monument of Arminghall and its affinities’, Proc. Prehist Soc. 3, 151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Daniel, G. and Kjaerum, P. (eds), 1969. Metalithic Graves and Ritual. Papers presented at III Atlantic Coloquium, Moesgaard, 1969.Google Scholar
Drewett, P., 1977. ‘The excavation of a neolithic causewayed enclosure on Offham Hill E. Sussex, 1976’, Proc. Prehist. Soc. 43, 201–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Enrich, P., 1949, ‘Die vorgeschichtlichen Totenhäuser und der Hausgedanke im Bestattungsbrauch’, Hamburg 3, 200–16.Google Scholar
Evans, E. E., 1953. Lyles Hill: A Late Neolithic site in County Antrim.Google Scholar
Fowler, P. (ed.), 1972. Archaeology and the Landscape. Essays for L. V. Grinsell.Google Scholar
Glasbergen, W., 1954. ‘Barrow Excavations in the Eight Beatitudes’, Palaeohistoria 1204.Google Scholar
Grimes, W. F., 1948. ‘A prehistoric temple at London Airport’, Archaeology 1, 7479.Google Scholar
Harding, A., 1981. ‘Excavations in the prehistoric ritual complex near Milfield, Northumberland’, Proc. Prehist. Soc. 47, 87136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Harding, D. W., 1972. The Iron Age of the Upper Thames Basin.Google Scholar
Harding, D. W., 1974. The Iron Age in Lowland Britain.Google Scholar
Harding, D. W., 1979. Celts in Conflict. Univ. Edinburgh Dept. of Archaeol. Occ. Paper no. 3.Google Scholar
Hayes, R. H., 1967. The Chambered Cairn and adjacent monuments on Great Ayton Moor N.E. Yorks.Google Scholar
Hedges, J., 1984. Tomb of the Eagles.Google Scholar
Hodder, I., 1984. ‘Burials, houses, women and men in the European Neolithic’, in Miller, and Tilley, , 5168.Google Scholar
Kinnes, I., 1976. ‘Monumental function in British Neolithic burial practices’, World Archaeol. 7, 1619.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kinnes, I., 1979. Round barrows and ring ditches. Brit. Mus. Occ. Paper 7.Google Scholar
Kinnes, I., 1981. ‘Dialogues with death’, in Chapman, et al. 1981, 8392.Google Scholar
Lewis, M. J. T., 1966. Temples in Roman Britain.Google Scholar
Liversage, G. D., 1960. ‘A Neolithic site at Townley Hall, Co. Louth’, J. Roy. Soc. Antiq. Ireland 90, 4960.Google Scholar
Lynch, F., 1979. ‘Ring cairns in Britain and Ireland: their design and purpose’, Ulster J. Archaeol, 42, 119.Google Scholar
Lynch, F., Waddell, J., Allen, D. and Grearley, S., 1974. ‘Brenig Valley Excavations 1973’, Denbigh. Hist. Trans. 23, 156.Google Scholar
Madsen, T., 1979. ‘Earthern Long Barrows and Timber Structures: Aspects Of The Early Neolithic Mortuary Practice in Demark’, Proc. Prehist. Soc. 45, 301–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Maier, R. A., 1962. ‘Fragen zu neolithischen Erdwerken Südbayerns’, Jahrb, Bayerischen Bodendenkmalpflege 1962, 521.Google Scholar
Mallory, J. P. and Hartwell, B., 1984. ‘Donegore’, Current Archaeol. 91, 271–75.Google Scholar
Mercer, R. J., 1980. Hambledon Hill: A Neolithic Landscape.Google Scholar
Miles, H., 1975. ‘Barrows on the St. Austell Granite, Cornwall’, Cornish Archaeol. 14, 582.Google Scholar
Miller, D. and Tilley, C., 1984. Ideology, power and prehistory.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Modderman, P. J. R., 1964. ‘The Neolithic burial vault at Stein’, Analecta Praehistorica Leidensia 1.Google Scholar
Mortimer, J. R., 1905. Forty years researches in British and Saxon burial mounds of East Yorkshire.Google Scholar
Mumford, L., 1963. The City of History.Google Scholar
Newham, C. A., 1966. ‘Stonehenge — a Neolithic Observatory?’, Nature 211, 456–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Newham, C. A., 1972. The Astronomical Significance of Stonehenge.Google Scholar
Neustupny, E. and J., , 1961. Czechoslovakia before the Slavs.Google Scholar
O'Kelly, M. J., 1952. ‘Excavation of a cairn at Moneen, Co. Cork’, Proc. Royal Irish Academy 54, 121–59.Google Scholar
Palmer, R., 1976. ‘Interrupted ditch enclosures in Britain; the use of aerial photography for comparative studies’, Proc. Prehist. Soc. 42, 161–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Piggott, S., 1961. ‘The British Neolithic Cultures in their Continental Setting’ in Böhm, J. and De Laet, S. (eds), Europe à la Fin de L'Âge de la Pierre, 557–74.Google Scholar
Piggott, S., 1962. The West Kennet Long Barrow.Google Scholar
Piggott, S., 1968. The Druids.Google Scholar
Powell, T. G. E., 1958. The Celts.Google Scholar
Ramskou, T., 1970. ‘Er Dansk Stonehenge’, Nationalmuseets Arbejdsmark, 5966.Google Scholar
Rees, A. and Rees, B., 1961. Celtic Heritage.Google Scholar
Renfrew, C., 1974. British Prehistory: a new outline.Google Scholar
Röder, J., 1948. ‘Der Goloring: Ein eisenzeitliches Heiligtum vom Hengecharakter im Koberner Wald’, Banner Jahrb. 148, 81132.Google Scholar
St Joseph, J. K. S., 1965. ‘Aerial Reconnaissance Recent Results 3’, Antiquity 39, 6064.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Savory, H. N., 1980, ‘The Neolithic in Wales’, in Taylor, J. A. (ed.), Culture and Environment in Prehistoric Wales, 207–31. Brit. Archaeol. Rep. Brit. Ser. 76.Google Scholar
Schwarz, K., 1962. ‘Zum Stand der Ausgrabungen in der spätkeltischen Viereckschanze von Holzhausen’, Jahresber, Bayer, Bodendenkmalpflege, 2227.Google Scholar
Selkirk, A. and Waterman, D., 1970. ‘Navan Fort’, Current Archaeol. 22, 304–08.Google Scholar
Shah, I., 1972. The Secret Lore of Magic.Google Scholar
Simpson, D. D. A., 1971. ‘Beaker houses and settlement in Britain’ in Simpson, D. D. A. (ed.), Economy and Settlement in Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Britain and Europe, 131–52.Google Scholar
Smith, I. F., 1965. Windmill Hill and Avebury, Excavations by Alexander Keiller 1925–1939.Google Scholar
Smith, I. F., 1966. ‘Windmill Hill and its implications’, Palaeohistoria, 12, 469–81.Google Scholar
Smith, I. F., 1971. ‘Causewayed Enclosures’, in Simpson, D. D. A. (ed.), Economy and Society in Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Britain and Europe, 89112.Google Scholar
Smith, I. F., 1972. ‘Ring Ditches in Eastern and Central Gloucestershire’ in Fowler, 157–69.Google Scholar
Smith, I. F. 1974. ‘The Neolithic’, in Refrew, 1974, 100–36.Google Scholar
Sprockhoff, E., 1938. Die nordische Megalithkultur.Google Scholar
Stanford, S. C., 1982. ‘Bromfield, Shropshire — Neolithic, Beaker and Bronze age sites, 1966–79’, Proc. Prehist. Soc. 48, 279320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Swan, D. L., 1978. ‘The Hill of Tara, county Meath: the evidence of Aerial Photography’, J. Royal Soc. Antiq. Ireland 108, 5166.Google Scholar
Thomas, C., 1971. The Early Christian Archaeology of North Britain.Google Scholar
Valiente, D., 1973. An ABC of Witchcraft past and present.Google Scholar
van Giffen, A. E., 1938. ‘Continental Bell or Disc Barrows in Holland’, Proc. Prehist. Soc. 4, 258–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Vyner, B., 1986. ‘Evidence for Mortuary Practices in the Neolithic Burial Mounds and Cairns of Northern Britain’, Scot, Archaeol. Review 4, 1116.Google Scholar
Wailes, B., 1974. ‘Excavations at Dun Ailinne, Co. Kildare: 1968–9 Interim ReportJ. Royal Soc. Antiq. Ireland 104, 7990.Google Scholar
Wainwright, G. J., 1969. ‘A review of henge monuments in the light of recent research’, Proc. Prehist. Soc. 35, 112–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wainwright, G. J., 1971. Durrington Walls 1966–1968.Google Scholar
Webster, G. and Hobley, B., 1964. ‘Aerial reconnaisance over the Warwickshire Avon’, Archaeol. J. 121, 122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Welbourn, A., 1984. ‘Endo ceramics and power strategies’, in Miller, D. and Tilley, C. (eds), Ideology, power and prehistory, 1724.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Whittle, A., 1977. ‘Earlier Neolithic enclosures in north-west Europe’, Proc. Prehist. Soc. 43, 329–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Whittle, A., 1981. ‘Later neolithic society in Britain: a realignment’ in Ruggles, C.L.N. and Whittle, A. W. R. (eds), Astronomy and Society in Britain during the period 4000–1500 BC, 297342. Brit. Archaeol. Rep. Brit. Ser. 88.Google Scholar

Full text views

Full text views reflects PDF downloads, PDFs sent to Google Drive, Dropbox and Kindle and HTML full text views.

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 94 *
View data table for this chart

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 2nd March 2021. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Towards a reappraisal of henge monuments: origins, evolution and hierarchies
Available formats

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Towards a reappraisal of henge monuments: origins, evolution and hierarchies
Available formats

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Towards a reappraisal of henge monuments: origins, evolution and hierarchies
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Your details

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *