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CRICKLEY HILL

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Neolithic/Early Bronze Age activity at Crickley Hill. Excavations between 1969 and 1993 uncovered evidence of considerable activity, but so far, this evidence for early prehistoric use of the site has been published only in interim form. The earliest Neolithic activity is represented by some pits, post-holes and stake-holes, including a series of pits arranged in an elongated oval. Some of the post-hole arrangements are suggested to represent hut sites, although the largest measures only 3 metres by 2 metres. Next came a causewayed enclosure comprising two widely-spaced circuits of interrupted ditches, each with an internal bank. Several phases of enclosure use have been identified. Burning and backfilling of some ditch segments appears to have been associated with the deliberate deposition of pottery, flints and animal bones. The final enclosure phase also featured a palisade, and seems to have been ended by an attack, marked by the presence of hundreds of flint leaf-shaped arrowheads around the entrance passageways. The enclosure interior featured numerous pits, postholes, gullies, stakeholes and a knapping floor, though few features could be clearly linked to the phases discerned in the enclosure sequence. A number of rectangular structures have been assigned to the final phases of enclosure use. Also dating to this later Neolithic phase was a sub-rectangular stone platform, approached by a fenced track. At the edge of the platform was a small rectangular timber and stone building. These structures have been interpreted as a shrine associated with the settlement. It appears to have been burnt down, eventually being replaced by a cairn and, later, a stone circle. Finally, the cairn was covered by a 100 metre long mound, associated with deposits of animal bones. The mound and associated structures are suggested to have continued as a focus for ritual activity into the Bronze Age, although it has been suggested that the mound is in fact a pillow mound.

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