Thursday, 3 December 2015

Looking into Postholes

I have a belief that many postholes held inverted trees - just a belief, no evidence - so I was interested to see the posthole Josh Pollard et al excavated on the West Kennet Avenue near to Avebury which was in a tree throw hollow and maybe was that tree being resurrected, maybe upside down.

This is just a few brief notes I have made on other posthole shapes for my further rumination.



" Inverting the central tree" 

“ It is probable that the central pit was excavated first, and the great inverted tree was drawn into place with the aid of the ropes. The alternative is to suggest that the central tree was transported over the construction trench for the timbers, which seems unlikely. It is likely that the excavation of the 1.50 m deep pit would have penetrated below the water table, and would have required bailing. The authors can state from experience that this would have been a particularly difficult and dirty task. The central tree was drawn to the edge of the pit and then reharnessed around its girth to provide leverage for the inversion. After the tree was pushed and pulled into place the ropes were not retrievable, and remained in the tow-holes. The knot used for the inversion was left wedged in the side of the pit …
…The sides of the hole had been moulded to the size and shape of the lower part of the tree and despite excavation into the sides and base of the feature no additional fill was identified.” (1)

So a vertical pit without a ramp for an inverted tree:

Durrington Walls 

 ~ 2600BCE
Postholes, many with ramps.

West Kennet Avenue  -

c.3400–2900 BC

One deep posthole found in 2015 within a tree throw hollow – no ramp (but complete hole not excavated.)

Stonehenge Mesolithic Postholes

The new posthole markers (tree throw marker to fore).

No ramps and a tree throw.

Pine charcoal in pit A HAR-455 dates 8800-7790BC.
Pine charcoal in pit B HAR-456 dates 7490-6640BC.


Spot marked D is an unreported disturbance spotted in a trench during the restoration of the carpark to grassland.

Click any picture to embiggen.

1: The Survey and Excavation of a Bronze Age Timber Circle at Holme-next-the-Sea, Norfolk, 1998–9. Mark Brennand, Maisie Taylor, Trevor Ashwin, Alex Bayliss, Matt Canti, Andrew Chamberlain, C.A.I. French, Val Fryer, Rowena Gale, F.M.L. Green, Cathy Groves, Allan Hall, Neil Linford, Peter Murphy, Mark Robinson, James Wells and David Williams Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society / Volume 69 / January 2003, pp 1 - 84 DOI: 10.1017/S0079497X00001250, Published online: 18 February 2014

2: Wainwright, G J, and Longworth, I H, 1971, Durrington Walls excavations, 1966-1968 (Reports of the Research Committee of the Society of Antiquaries of London 29). London: Society of Antiquaries

3: Living on the Avenue: investigating settlement histories and other events at West Kennet, near Avebury : Mark Gillings, Mike Allen, Charly French, Rosamund Cleal, Nick Snashall, Alistair Pike & Joshua Pollard

4: Cleal, R. M. J., Walker, K. E. and Montague, R., 1995, Stonehenge in its landscape: Twentieth century excavations English Heritage Archaeological Report 10

5: Google maps annotated by T C Daw

1 comment:

  1. Post Hole D - where did that come from?

    Very happy as it was predicted in my first book six years ago as it is in line with the river bank of the Avon in the 9th Millennium BCE - but clearly kept very quiet and not reported in mainstream media for reason best know to EH?

    As for ramped stone holes, usually would mean something very heavy like the sarsen stones at Stonehenge or very large (tall) and heavy posts.