The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Hindwell Enclosure



I've been reading a book of essays called 'Prehistoric Ritual and Religion' by Gibson and Simpson, which has been put together in honour of Aubrey Burl. It's all really interesting, but I was particularly taken by the chapter on Neolithic palisaded sites. Now I can tell some of you are drifting off already - especially when you hear there's nothing to actually SEE here - but if you imagine past the facts and figures, it's really quite amazing.

At Hindwell there was the largest palisaded site yet found in Britain. It was an oval shape 800 by 400m, enclosing 34 ha (Maiden Castle is only 17.2ha), with a circumference of 2.3km. If you look at the map, that incorporates the lake, the farm, the Roman fort, the barrows - it's huge. I think the 'kink' in the road to the North is on its outline. Pottery in its ditch has been dated to 2700BCE.

Think about how much work was involved to make this - there were post holes dug, 3 in every 5 metres. They were all 2 metres deep, and held oak posts about 70 cm in diameter (and therefore weighing about 4 tonnes each). Using the ratio 1:3 for below:above ground (I don't know where the authors got this from, but supposing we go with it..) this means the posts were all 6m tall! and there were 1400 of them around the enclosure. They'd been charred before putting in the ground - for waterproofing?

The authors calculated at length that allowing for the size of the local population, the weather, preparatory work (cutting and transporting timber, making ropes, ramps, tools) plus everyday growing food etc, it would have taken 3 and a half years of good work to finish the project. A lot of work - and would everyone even be allowed in when it was done? Think how impressive such a structure would have been - so our Neolithic forebears weren't just a dab hand with megaliths when it came to architechture.

Mount Pleasant was a smaller palisaded site, but if anything sounds even more bizarre.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
15th May 2003ce
Edited 14th September 2007ce

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