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STEPLETON ENCLOSURE, HAMBLEDON HILL

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The site of an oval Neolithic causewayed enclosure on the south-eastern, or Stepleton, spur of Hambledon Hill (see ST 81 SW 17). Part of a complex of Neolithic monuments which occupy all three spurs of Hambledon Hill. The earthworks on Hambledon Hill were surveyed by RCHME in 1996. The remains of the Stepleton enclosure were recorded during an earlier RCHME survey in 1959 and was completely excavated during Roger Mercer's 1974-86 excavation programme, having already been severely damaged by modern ploughing. Mercer's excavations confirmed the causewayed nature and Neolithic date of the enclosure. The Stepleton enclosure lacked the abundant human remains and quantities of imported material present in the main causewayed enclosure (ST 81 SW 17). A number of post holes in the interior, possibly representing structures, were identified, and the enclosure has generally been interpreted as being more domestic in function. The Stepleton enclosure was incorporated into one of the Neolithic "outworks", the Stepleton outwork (part of which still survives as an earthwork), which utilised part of the enclosure circuit, and ran along the southern side of the spur towards the Hanford Spur outwork (ST 81 SW 71). These outworks appear to have combined to enclose much of Hambledon Hill. The Stepleton outwork in particular appears to have been revetted with large oak timbers and hazel wattle fences. The ditch fills of both enclosure and outwork have also hinted at one or more attacks on the site late in the Neolithic sequence. This evidence takes the form of episodes of burning, flint arrowheads, complete human skeletons and, in one case, an adult male with a leaf-shaped arrowhead in his thoracic cavity. However, the Stepleton enclosure appears to have continued in use for a while after this episode. Finally, a 7th-8th century inhumation cemetery was inserted into the bank. The cemetery comprised 13 individuals orientated west-east. Two were accompanied by grave goods of knives.

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