|I present here an extract of correspondence between myself and Miles Russell, Senior Lecturer in Archaeology, School of Conservation Sciences, Bournemouth University. He excavated some of Wolstonbury in 1995, and discovered the nearby Mile Oak Henge.
> The report on the web seems to conclude that it is a Bronze Age
> enclosure, while the interim report states that 'of all the
> Wolstonbury C interpretations, that of Late Neolithic/ Early Bronze
> Age henge monument, is by far the most plausible.' Is this still your take on it?
[Miles Russell] the most plausible interpretation, from the C14 dates supplied (approximating around 1000 BC) is that the section of ditch sampled in 1995 dates from the later Bronze Age, but this doesn't explain the exterior bank - There may well be an earlier (henge) phase at Wolstonbury (and only further examination would prove or disprove this) reworked and modified in the Later Bronze Age - it's certainly an anomalous (not to say mysterious) site and I'd love it to be a henge dominating the concentration of Late Neolithic material in the Brighton area of the South Downs, but more work really needs to be done here.
>The things that turned me off the henge
> idea were location and size (although, as you rightly point out, there are henges on hilltops and of comparable size and larger), plus the lack of similar monuments in Sussex.
[Miles Russell] certainly the location is unlike most other henges, but the size and basic form are spot on
> I also thought that if you were going to build a henge, you would go
> to the trouble of clearing away the old field lynchets (if that's what
> they are) that are in the center! If the site is ceremonial/ non-utiliarian, do you think the use of the 3 earthworks may be related, with the monument being expanded over time to accommodate a growing population?
[Miles Russell] problem is the field banks are themselves undated (and very poorly preserved). The lynchets could conceivably be later, their shape reflecting that of the enclosure banks already in existence
>And what about Mile Oak? I have to admit to not having heard of this site before and it rather blows my 'no Sussex henges' theory out of the water! Do you still feel this is definitely a henge? I would be keen to see any reports you may have on that site. Is it visitable, or buried under the A27?
[Miles Russell] Mile Oak is definitely a henge. Sadly it was destroyed by the A27 (its position is close to the eastbound lay-by as you emerge from the Southwick tunnel heading into Brighton). The site report, written in 1991, was finally published by English Heritage as part of the A27 archaeological report entitled "Downland settlement and land-use" edited by David Rudling in 2002. I don't possess an electronic copy of the report (sadly) and as I recall the finished tome is expensive- £30 I think (though it may now be discounted) - last saw it advertised on the Oxbow Books website
but I imagine that most reference libraries in Sussex have a copy. There must be other similar sites on the chalk, they just have yet to be found!
Many Thanks to Miles Russell for taking the time to answer these questions.
Posted by danielspaniel
10th May 2005ce
Edited 10th May 2005ce