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Maiden Castle (Dorchester)



Maiden Castle Causewayed Enclosure

Details of causewayed enclosure on Pastscape - Monument No. 1537734

The Early Neolithic causewayed enclosure at Maiden Castle occupies only the eastern part of the hill, and has an approximate area of 8 hectares, making it one of the larger examples in England. It is overlain by a large Iron Age hillfort which has restricted investigation of the Neolithic remains. The west side of the Neolithic enclosure is overlain by the long mound, a 500 metre-long earthwork. Wheeler identified that the earliest phase of the hillfort followed the line of two concentric circuits of causewayed ditch. The inner ditch contained several episodes of filling and substantial numbers of artefacts. In 1985-6 surveys of the hill and its environs raised the possibility that a north-east to south-west earthwork running into the west hillfort entrance may originally have been a freestanding cross-ridge dyke. A third, outermost Neolithic ditch may also exist 30 metres outside the known outer ditch. A further `Neolithic mound' of unknown extent may lie yet farther east. Early Neolithic pits around the eastern hillfort entrance and the east end of the long mound, were shown to extend south-west of the hillfort. The manufacture of flint axeheads and other large core tools on the site was confirmed. The assemblages from nearby sites strongly suggest that axehead-making was focused at Maiden Castle. Recent research has concluded that the enclosure at Maiden Castle began to be built probably in the 3550s or 3540s cal BC. It is possible that the two circuits were dug in the same year, almost certainly within a single generation. The enclosure ditches filled up quickly, both ditches were filled probably by 3550-3530 cal BC. The use of the enclosure was remarkably short, lasting no more than a single generation. Indeed the outer ditch may have been infilled possibly in less than a year. It is probable that the outer ditch of the causewayed enclosure had been dug and had filled up by the time the long mound was constructed.
Chance Posted by Chance
29th May 2014ce
Edited 28th September 2015ce

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