Timber Circles – Durrington Walls South Circle Digital Model.

Durrington Walls timber circle (south) exterior.

Durrington Walls timber circle (south) exterior.

Durrington Walls South Circle Model

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For more recent information about Durrington Walls, see Bluestonehenge – Oval or Round?

Text from the Wiltshire Sites and Monuments Record and regards the Durrington Walls site in general.

Double entranced henge enclosure which excavation dated to the Late Neolithic. A number of features have been identified in the interior including buildings and a midden.

A) Excavations, 1966-68, in advance of A345 found 2 circular timber structures of several phases associated with grooved ware & C14 dates 2050 +/- 90 to 1810+/-148bc. ( the Southern and Northern Circles). Areas of rammed chalk sealing ramps for the large postholes were revealed.

B) Aerial photographic & Geophysical evidence for further internal features. (Damaged by the construction of The Married Officers’ Quarters on Larkhill.)

C) A magnetometer survey was carried out in 1996 and this was followed up by a contour survey and a programme of coring outside the south eastern entrance. The geophysical anomalies on either side of the entrance were identified as the result of burnt deposits which post-date the bank. There is also a buried soil which survives beneath the bank and across the entrance.

D) Replacement of two gateposts during 2003 within the monument revealed deep colluvial deposits at the bottom of the coombe, and another set to the north of the henge produced no archaeological evidence.

E) A geophysical survey conducted in 2003 revealed the massive henge ditch as a weak but well-defined broad curvilinear anomaly up to 15m in width, showing distinct variation in width or ‘scalloping’ around the circuit. The magnetic response from the section of ditch south-west of the entrance may be a sign of possible re-cutting of the ditch circuit. The henge ditch deviates from it line at a curiviliner anomaly that perhaps represents either a much wider original entrance or the starting point for the construction of the henge bank. Numerous probable archaeological features are detectable by weak magnetic responses within the henge enclosure and adjacent to the entrances.

F) Late Neolithic metalled road or Avenue with a gully and external bank was revealed in 2005-6 (See also SU14SE132 & 133) A large midden in which part of a house is built. This house was 2m across on a SE-NW axis. The midden extended over 20m to the north, and was 10m in diameter. It was full of pig and cattle bones as well as flint flakes, scrapers and arrowheads. Finds include a chalk plaque together with fragments of another one. An antler cache was recovered from within the north baulk of a pit on the northern edge of the midden.

NE of the midden was a huge post hole with a ramp on its north side. A narrow and shallow ditch running east-west and curving northwards was cut into the buried ground surface. It is interpreted as a demarcation ditch. South of it a layer of carbonised branches lay on top of the nothern edge of a midden composed of several layers of loam and wood ash. The existence of midden layers in two sections beneath the bank raises the possibility that large scale activities at Durrington Walls may have pre-dated the construction of the henge by a decade or even centuries.

The Durrington Avenue and the Southern circle were the main componants of a ceremonial complex, later encircled by the henge bank and ditch. The Southern Circle does not appear to have had a western entrance opposite the entrance identified by Wainwright, and even that it may have been incomplete. A tree throw was uncovered beneath the buried soil. The large tree had blown down before the formation of the Neolithic soil. The date that the tree fell must pre-date the Neolithic and probably post-dates the end to the Pleistocene.

Millennia after the tree fall, a vertically-sided pit c1m deep was dug, and recut several times. The third recut was a shallow bowl shaped pit that was soon filled with large blocks of deep-quarried chalk. This fill contained an antler burr and large sherds of pottery. A Geoarchaeological study revealed soil evidence of a long established grassland environment by the 3rd millenium BC.

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