The story so far
Want to keep
University of Reading online course,
Archaeology: From Dig to Lab and Beyond
The landowner had presumably taken advantage of the damage caused by the antiquaries and levelled it.The Marden inner henge and buildingAnother notable feature within Marden lies to the south and is an ‘inner’ henge—a henge within a henge. Excavations here have revealed the chalk surface of an extraordinarily well-preserved Neolithic building, which we will learn about later on. Close to the building were spreads of Neolithic rubbish, which incorporated elegant bone needles, as well as flint flakes and decorated ‘Grooved Ware’ pottery. In one area was a collection of bones from numerous pigs, and clearly represent the remains of a very large feast. Two exquisitely crafted flint arrowheads were also recovered from around this building, and we will find out more about these as the course goes on.The Wilsford henge© Aerial-Cam LtdOn the south side of the river (and broadly contemporary with Marden henge) is the Wilsford henge. This henge is much smaller than Marden, measuring 42m in internal diameter, but excavation across the ditch terminus showed that the ditch is an almighty 3.35m deep and over 13m across.The ditch had initially infilled with sands; presumably material eroded into it. This fill notably contained a collection of large, well-preserved animal bones. An antler pick was also recovered from this fill, representing the sorts of tools used to excavate the massive ditch.In the central part of the Wilsford henge there was a deliberately laid flint cobbled surface. This would have created a level platform for the various activities or performances which took place within the henge. Two rings of large pits or postholes are visible on the aerial and geophysical surveys—one inside and the other outside the Wilsford henge ditch. We excavated some of these; one of them contained the skull of a deer amongst other things.One of our most celebrated discoveries in the Vale of Pewsey came from the Wilsford henge. This was a grave containing the extraordinary and well-preserved remains of a teenage boy. Later in the course, we will look at this remarkable find in more detail, along with some of the other discoveries found at both Marden and Wilsford.A tale the river toldThe striking feature about these two monuments, Marden and Wilsford, is their link to the River Avon, which runs between them. Both monuments face the river, as if access or good views of this part of the Avon were important. Marden henge sits within a large sweeping meander of the River Avon, and clearly water was intricately woven into its fabric. A large section of the perimeter of the henge is defined by the river and springs which are incorporated within and around the enclosure; even today the ditch holds water for part of the year.The relationship between these monuments and water was evidently a close one and the low-lying nature of the topography, the brooks, streams and springs which characterise the Vale, are key to understanding the monuments in this landscape.Water is likely to have been of sacred importance, and it might be that the river was used as a route-way linking ritual and ceremonial architecture. These monuments may therefore represent a linked chain of cult centres that people journeyed to as an act of prehistoric pilgrimage.“I had the unexpected mortification to find that the great barrow had been completely levelled to the ground, and no signs remained of its previous existence”.
Archaeology: From Dig to Lab and Beyond
Our purpose is to transform access to education.
We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.
We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.