Knowlton Dig 2016: Day 19

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Students recording excavated sections of the ring ditch terminals (Image: Author)

Yesterday we finished our final day of digging at Knowlton and it is safe to say we have had a serious case of last day syndrome.  We have been powering ahead to finish excavating and recording slots through a ring ditch to try to work out whether it is part of a Bronze Age round barrow or Neolithic henge monument… and we think we have done it!

Radiocarbon dating of animal bone found within the primary fill of the ditch will provide a precise date for the feature and will be the final piece of evidence that will hopefully confirm our suspicions that we have found a Neolithic henge!

The ring ditch of the monument has been constructed in segments by digging a series of intercutting pits, up to 1.2m deep some places.  This segmented ditch construction is very common during the Neolithic and is synonymous with henge monuments.

Perhaps one of the most crucial lines of evidence is the slumping of the secondary fill of the ditch against the outermost edge of the feature.  This suggests the possible presence of a bank outside of the ditch, part of which may have been deliberately pushed back into the ditch.  This slumping of the secondary fill is present in all but one of the sections along the 16m segment of excavated ditch.

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The section of one of the slots through the ring ditch. The secondary fill (the white band of chalk above the thin, dark soil stabilisation horizon) is slumped against the outside of the ditch, on the right of section (Image: Author)

Small deliberate deposits of bone had been placed in the ditch fills in certain areas including parts of a cattle skull, cattle metapodials, a horn core, a scapula and pig humerus.  There were also small discreet scatters of flint within the ditch fills, possibly resulting from in situ knapping.

There is also a narrow causeway into the monument formed by a break in the ditch with flint packing in the ditch terminals on either side to create a paved surface.  Cropmark evidence and the results of the geophysical survey would suggest this is the only entrance into the monument although it is still unclear what or if there are any features inside the ring ditch.

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The excavated terminals of the ring ditch with remnants of the causeway into the monument between them (Image: Author)

We have now finished revealing the full extent and character of the large chalk boss at the northern end of the western ditch which still remains as much of a mystery as when it was first discovered, particularly as the feature appears to have no parallels at other Neolithic sites.

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The fully excavated chalk boss in the centre of the western ditch’s northern terminal which we are still scratching our heads over (Image: Author)

The 3 week long excavation (30th July – 19th August) is run by the University of Southampton in collaboration with archaeologists from the University of Leicester and archaeologist Martin Green.  More detail about the background to the site and its excavation can be found here.

You can keep up to date with all of the latest discoveries from the site here on Facets, by following @Jake_Rowland1 on twitter or from the twitter hashtag #Knowlton16.

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