Causewayed enclosure


Causewayed enclosure

Causewayed enclosures are a type of large prehistoric earthworks common to the early Neolithic Europe. More than 100 examples are recorded in France, 70 in England and further sites are known in Scandinavia, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Ireland and Slovakia.

Causewayed enclosure is preferred to the older term causewayed camp as it has been demonstrated that the sites did not necessarily serve as occupation sites.

Construction

Causewayed enclosures are often located on hilltop sites, encircled by one to four segmented concentric ditches, with an internal bank that is also segmented. In general, enclosures located in lowland areas are larger than hilltop ones. Crossing the ditches at intervals are causeways which give the monuments their names. It appears that the ditches were excavated in sections, leaving the wide causeways intact in between. They should not be confused with segmented, or causewayed ring ditches, which are smaller and relate only to funerary activity or with hillforts which are later and had a definite defensive function. (With regard to defensive functionality, however, evidence of timber palisades has been found at some sites such as Hambledon Hill.)

Function

Archaeological evidence implies that the enclosures were visited occasionally by Neolithic groups rather than being permanently occupied. It is possible that they represent a transitional period in the Neolithic before hunter-gatherer societies finally became fully settled. The presence of human remains in the banks and ditches of the enclosures has been seen as an attempt by the builders to connect their ancestors with the land and thus begin to anchor themselves to specific areas. Longitudinal sections excavated along the ditches by archaeologists suggest that the builders repeatedly redug the ditches and each time deliberately deposited pottery and human and animal bones, apparently as a regular ritual. Environmental archaeology suggests that the European landscape was in general heavily forested when the enclosures were built and that they were rare clearings in the woodland that were used for various social and economic activities.

In the 1970s the archaeologist Peter Drewett suggested seven possible functions for the sites:Fact|date=February 2007

* Settlement
* Defence
* Cattle compounds or kraals
* Trade centres
* Communal meeting places for feasting and other social activities
* Cult/ritual centres
* Burial sites

Other interpretations have seen the causeways as symbolic of multi-directional access to the site by scattered communities, the enclosures as funerary centres for excarnation or the construction of the site being a communal act of creation by a fragmented society. Some enclosures are better situated for one activity than another and it is unlikely that they served any one purpose.

Animal remains (especially cattle bone), domestic waste and pottery have been found at the sites. But there has been limited evidence of any structures. In some locations, such as Windmill Hill, evidence of human occupation predates the enclosure. Generally, it appears that the ditches were permitted to silt up, even while the camps were in use, and then re-excavated episodically. It is unlikely that they had a strong defensive purpose. The earthworks may have been designed to keep out wild animals rather than people. The sequential addition of second, third and fourth circuits of banks and ditches may have come about through growing populations adding to the significance of their peoples' monument over time. In some cases, they appear to have evolved into more permanent settlements.

Most causewayed enclosures have been ploughed away in the intervening millennia and are recognized through aerial archaeology. The first were constructed in the fifth millennium BC and by the early third millennium BC notable regional variations occur in their construction. French examples begin to demonstrate elaborate horn-shaped entrances which are interpreted as being designed to impress from afar rather than serve any practical purpose.

Aubrey Burl considers that building of causewayed enclosures decayed by 3000 BC and was replaced by more localised types of earthen work monuments. In Britain, such replacements include Stonehenge I, Flagstones, Duggleby Howe and Ring of Bookan, and the later henge monuments.

Examples

Examples of causewayed enclosures include:

England

*Robin Hood's Ball near Stonehenge
*Hambledon Hill
*Windmill Hill near Avebury henge
*Hembury
*Coombe Hill.
*Rams Hill (on the Berkshire Downs)
*Some tor enclosures such as that at Carn Brea are believed to have served a similar purpose in south western Britain.

France

*Champ Durand
*La Coterelle
*Diconche
*Chez Reine near Semussac
*La Mastine

Northern Ireland

*Donegore


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Causewayed enclosure von Magheraboy — Die Causewayed enclosure von Magheraboy (Sligo) ist eine frühneolithische zwischen 4000 und 3800 v. Chr. errichtete, 1,7 ha große Einfriedung. Sie liegt auf dem Gipfel einer lang gestreckten Erhöhung bei Sligo im County Sligo in Irland. Die… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Causewayed camp — Britisches bzw. kontinentales Erdwerk Unterbrochene Erdwerke sind steinzeitliche Bauwerke, die aus konzentrischen Wälle und durch Erdbrücken unterbrochene Gräben bestehen. Die Eingänge sind teilweise durch komplizierte Bastionen geschützt. Sie… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Causewayed ring ditch — A causewayed ring ditch is a type of prehistoric monument.It comprises a roughly circular ditch, segmented by several causeways which cross it. Within the ditch is a central area used for inhumations and cremations, usually covered beneath a… …   Wikipedia

  • Enclosure (archaeology) — In archaeology, an enclosure is one of the most common types of archaeological site. It is any area of land separated from surrounding land by earthworks, walls or fencing. Such a simple feature is found all over the world and during almost all… …   Wikipedia

  • Tor enclosure — A tor enclosure is a prehistoric monument found in the southwestern part of the United Kingdom. They are large hilltop or hillslope enclosures situated close to natural rock outcrops. They are surrounded by one or more circuits of stone built… …   Wikipedia

  • Henge — s, burials, central mounds, and stakeholes ( [http://www.eng h.gov.uk/mpp/mcd/sub/henges1.htm English Heritage definition] ).Because of the defensive impracticalities of an enclosure with an external bank and an internal ditch (rather than vice… …   Wikipedia

  • Prehistoric Norfolk — This prehistory of the County of Norfolk, England is broken into specific time periods. Norfolk has a very rich prehistoric past, from the Palaeolithic 750,000 years ago, to end of the Iron Age 2000 years age. Indeed, Norfolk has the earliest… …   Wikipedia

  • Maiden Castle, Dorset — For other places with the same name, see Maiden Castle. Maiden Castle Maiden Castle in 1934 …   Wikipedia

  • Robin Hood's Ball — Infobox World Heritage Site WHS = Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites State Party = Type = Cultural Criteria = i, ii, iii ID = 373 Region = Europe and North America Year = 1986 Session = 10th Link = http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/373Robin… …   Wikipedia

  • Unterbrochenes Erdwerk — Britisches bzw. kontinentales Erdwerk Unterbrochene Erdwerke sind Bauwerke aus konzentrischen Wällen mit durch Erdbrücken unterbrochenen Gräben. Die Eingänge sind teilweise durch komplizierte Bastionen geschützt. Sie traten im westeuropäischen… …   Deutsch Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.