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DURRINGTON WALLS

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Durrington Walls, a Later Neolithic henge enclosure of roughly oval shape measuring circa 490 metres northwest-southeast and 470 metres northeast-southwest, defined by a ditch with external bank. The bank and ditch enclose a small dry valley which leads down to the River Avon (which lies to the south east). There are two opposed entrances, one on the western side, the other on the east. Ploughing has levelled much of the circuit, and the main visible earthworks are massive lynchets which broadly follow the line of the enclosure bank and ditch. Excavations occurred on a small scale in 1917 and in the early 1950s. In 1966-8, re-routing of the A345 through the enclosure led to the excavation of a north-south transect across the eastern half of the enclosure. As well as confirming the broadly later Neolithic date of the earthwork and a strong association with Grooved Ware, evidence for considerable earlier, 4th millennium BC activity was encountered as well as some later, Early Bronze Age (Beaker) and Iron Age activity. The principal features associated with the henge itself were two timber structures: a Southern Circle, situated close to the eastern entrance and which comprised a series of concentric circles of timber posts, associated with an artefact-strewn 'platform' and a midden; and a less-well preserved Northern Circle, again represented by concentric arrangements of post holes, but this time approached by parallel rows of timber posts and "screened" by a facade or fenceline of posts. Although the excavator, Wainwright, has interpreted these circles as roofed buildings, they are generally interpreted as freestanding concentric arrangements of upright timbers. Geophysical survey in the interior of Durrington Walls to the west of the road has revealed evidence for further structures, some of them also circular.

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