As they used to write in the Radio Times when there was nothing on but repeats. Unfortunately, for one reason and another we have not had much chance to do new work on the project this week. When the snow lets up we will be back out to do more topographic survey, but I have been a bit busy with other tasks to devote the usual amount of time to the caves research.
This does have the positive effect of giving some time to think about things we have already done. So, I thought I would use this week’s blog post to sum up what we think we know so far about the New Laund enclosure in particular.
The site is on a flat plateau on the eastern side of New Laund Hill. In this photo we are looking down on the site from the summit, facing roughly north-east. There is a curved ditch with a bank outside around the eastern end of the enclosure which seems to have a bank outside it.
Our 3 metre cutting across the bank and ditch this summer showed that at this end of the site it was cut through the limestone bedrock and was about 1 metre deep in the centre. There were chert and flint finds from the ditch fills and a piece of a sheep’s jawbone from right at the base of the ditch, just about under where Christina’s red glove is on this photo.
Once we started to analyse the position of the finds and also the detail of the shape of the ditch then it became obvious that this is a place where two segments of the ditch joined up as it was being dug. The finds evidence suggests that the ditch is Early Bronze Age (around 4000 to 3500 years old) but I wonder if it might have been first dug in the Late Neolithic (around 4500 to 4000 years ago) as part of a henge type monument on the top of the hill.
In the middle of the plateau, and therefore in the middle of the henge (if it is a henge), geophysical survey picked up traces of a circular feature about 10 metres in diameter. When this was excavated it was a relatively shallow circular ditch which seems to have held relatively widely spaced large posts.There was more chert and flint in this trench, as well as charcoal and fragments of cremated human bone. The stone tools here were also Early Bronze Age and I think this was either a free-standing timber circle, and therefore an internal feature for the henge, or a post-ring around an Early Bronze Age round barrow.
On the north side of the hill the edge of the enclosure is marked by what we have assumed until now is a natural ridge of limestone. You can see it rising up behind the tree in this photo. As we are starting to link together all the different surveys of this area we are starting to see a very ‘hard’ artificial looking edge to the interior of this bank. We are now starting to wonder if this is in fact a built part of the enclosure. The survey we are doing over the winter will help resolve this problem and we will then test that with a small excavation during the summer.