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ABINGDON CAUSEWAYED ENCLOSURE

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The site of a Neolithic causewayed enclosure, now presumed to be largely destroyed by gravel extraction and housing development, although the southern extremity may survive. The site was situated on a slight spur bounded by the shallow valleys of two small streams which ran towards the River Thames less than a mile to the south. Two human skeletons were found in 1905, and in April 1926 the discovery of animal remains, flint implements and pottery sherds in a gravel pit prompted closer attention. Areas were excavated by ET Leeds in 1926-7, by Case in 1954 and by Avery in 1963. Two separate lengths of curving, interrupted ditch have been recognised, the inner being the focus of Leeds' work, while Case trenched the outer ditch, having determined its position from a 1928 aerial photograph (although it is not certain that this outer ditch was causewayed). Avery also examined the inner ditch, as well as an area between the two circuits. There was evidence for deliberate backfilling and recutting of ditches, as well as the deposition of large quantities of cultural material. Some undated pits, postholes and other features may be associated with the main use of the site. Most of the pottery and other artefacts belong to the earlier Neolithic. The pottery assemblage is dominated by Abingdon Ware, for which this enclosure is the type-site. Only a handful of Peterborough Ware, Grooved Ware, Beaker and Bronze Age sherds were found. A single microlith and one early radiocarbon date are the sole indicators of any Mesolithic activity. Research into the dating of causewayed enclosures suggests that the earthworks were constructed and in use either during the third quarter of the 37th century cal BC or during the third quarter of the 36th century cal BC. Although we do not know order in which the two circuits were built, they were constructed within a few years of each other and may be contemporary, perhaps built in the same season.

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