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The analysis of Bronze Age barrow sites excavated as long ago as 25 years can provide information on more significant and wide ranging topics than basic funerary rites. At Buckskin no primary burial rite was recorded nor any high status artefacts found. The analysis, of stored soil samples and animal bones however, produced evidence for ceremonial activity and feasting prior to the construction of the barrow mound. This encourages discussion on both the role of this barrow and the primary function, other than interment, of similar monuments, especially from the evidence of environmental data. Study of both land Mollusca and faunal remains enabled a greater explanation of the cultural history of this monument and aided the site phasing.
The site was first occupied in the Bronze Age by a small agricultural settlement, consisting of two circular timber houses with ancillary structures and ditches. One house was eventually replaced by a stone structure. A single radiocarbon determination suggests that the settlement is to be dated within the period 1700–1300 B.C. The Iron Age settlement of Trevisker Round was probably established in the second century B.C., if not earlier. An original inner enclosure, half an acre in area, housing a single defended farmstead, was later superseded by a larger defended enclosure, 3 acres in area, also with circular timber houses and occupation areas. This occupation was followed at the end of the first century A.D., by a Romano-British phase of occupation, which lasted until the middle of the second century.
This report describes the excavation of a small complex of earthworks on the Dorset chalk upland (fig. 1) associated with fields and droveways. Several banked and ditched enclosures were present, the main one of which contained two sub-circular houses. The lay-out of these houses may be ascribed largely to the Deverel-Rimbury occupation of the site, but the main earthworks of the farmstead are dated on the evidence of the pottery to the early Middle Bronze Age, if not to the Wessex Bronze Age. From the plans of similar settlements with fields and droveways, then thought to belong to the Late Bronze Age (but now assigned to the Middle Bronze Age), Curwen (1938) deduced the existence of settled cultivation with the two-oxplough. The use of some form of plough during the Bronze Age has since received confirmation from the discovery of marks of cultivation in the fossil soil beneath barrows and other monuments. The placing of the houses in hollows cut into the slope recalls the Itford Hill settlement (Hollyman and Burstow, 1958) and the enclosing ditches, the Cranborne Chase sites mapped by Mrs Piggott (1951). The round houses seem to be the universal type in the Middle Bronze Age of southern England and the farmstead with 2–3 houses is comparable with Thorny Down, Plumpton Plain, Trevisker (St. Eval) and Trewey, to quote only the better known examples. It is uncertain how far we should distinguish these from what appear to be villages with up to 20-30 houses, such as occur on Dartmoor (Radford 1951).
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