|Read quite an interesting excavation report today on a bell-barrow that had been ploughed out at Avebury prior to 1964 (Excavation Of A Bell Barrow, Avebury G.55). I had never seen it on an old map myself but its location was interesting for it lay 300 yards away from the WKLB on a near direct line to Silbury Hill (SU/10246788). It would have been very prominent in the landscape when first built but the excavator, I.F.Smith, says that when observed from the valley beneath (the field area leading to the Swallowhead Springs possibly) it appeared as ‘a slight bump’ on the sky-line.|
‘The exposed hilltop that was ultimately to be occupied by a Bronze Age burial mound was found to be the scene of still earlier prehistoric activities that could be traced backwards over a span of perhaps a thousand years. The testimony was gathered mainly from the ploughsoil; in this were dispersed the pottery, flint implements and broken animal bones that had been discarded by the successive groups of people who had stayed here. Pottery and tools of the Windmill Hill culture suggest that the earliest activity could have been related to the nearby West Kennet Long Barrow at a date around 2500 B.C., and throughout the long sequence that followed this tomb must always have dominated the surroundings.
Later on the same place was frequented by people who made Peterborough ware (in all its three styles) and by others of the Rinyo-Clacton culture. Bearers of the Beaker culture came too: first the immediate descendants of the Bell Beaker immigrants, then their successors who are known to us by their more insular Long-Necked Beakers. One of these Beaker folk was left buried in a simple flat grave. The only other permanent traces in the ground were a number of pits dug by the Long-Necked Beaker folk and probably used by them for storage. When one of these pits was had served its purpose and was being refilled, parts of the dismembered body of an infant were flung into it. The pits, which seem likely to have been in use sometime between 1600 and 1550 B.C., represent the last recognisable episode in this sequence. It was around this time the WKLB was finally sealed and abandoned and these last occupants of our site may have had a hand in this.
After a while an Early Bronze Age bell barrow was constructed within the area of the former settlement. A large oblong pit was cut to receive a cremation accompanied by a pygmy cup, bronze awl, horn pendant, three beadsmade from fossils, and perhaps one made of chalk. (There may have been other things as well, for at some time this pit had been rifled.) This internment had been covered by a mound which, though wholly destroyed by the time of the excavation, seems to have been about 50ft in diameter and not centred over it. A space some 90ft across was enclosed by a flat-bottomed ditch that had been laid out in such a way as to leave a berm of variable width between its inner edge and the mound.
During the next two or three centuries some secondary cremations were deposited on the berm, and perhaps also in the mound’.
A high mound which almost certainly represents this barrow appears in Tab.XXII of Stukeley’s Abury (1743).
I got all this information from a ‘magazine’ I bought off Fleabay called The Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine Volume 60 (1965) all 232 pages of it which are much more like a book than magazine. I actually bought it because it had a comprehensive detailed account of the excavation at Knap Hill in 1961 and the barrow and LOADS of other excavation and interesting accounts throughout its pages are a complete bonus.
Mind you, I had to pay through the nose for it…..99p :-)
Reply | with quote
|Posted by Sanctuary|
16th July 2012ce
Excavation of a Bell Barrow, Avebury G.55 (Sanctuary, Jul 16, 2012, 22:43)