MARDEN BARROW CEMETERY AND WILSFORD HENGE, WILTSHIRE
REPORT ON GEOPHYSICAL SURVEYS, SEPTEMBER 2012 AND MARCH 2013
Neil Linford, Paul Linford and Andrew Payne
A geophysical survey was conducted as part of the Marden Environs NMP enhancement project (RASMIS 6302) over an area of approximately 20ha, encompassing a barrow cemetery and henge, both known from previous aerial photography, found on the parish boundary between the villages of Marden and Wilsford, Wiltshire. It was hoped that geophysical survey might enhance the archaeological record of the site and, in particular, examine any relationship between these monuments and Marden henge immediately to the north. The results of the vehicle-towed, caesium magnetometer survey identified all of the known monuments within the Marden barrow cemetery and provided some additional detail within the rectilinear enclosures to the north of the site. An interior circuit of pit or post-holes was also found within the Wilsford henge together with evidence for an adjacent, previously unrecognised Roman settlement, which appears to pass beneath the raised causeway running through the centre of the site.
The geophysical survey has successfully located anomalies consistent with all of the known prehistoric monuments at the site, previously identified through aerial photography, and confirmed their survival under the current agricultural regime. In addition, the survey supports and enhances evidence for the two enclosures to the N of the barrow cemetery which have only appeared as cropmarks once, and also indicated an internal arc of postpit type anomalies within the Wilsford henge. Whilst there are distinct similarities between the form of the Wilsford henge and Woodhenge, situated 15km to the S, there is no evidence for concentric post-rings such as those found through magnetic survey at Stanton Drew. However, perhaps the most surprising revelation has been the discovery of previously unrecognised Roman activity at the site, interpreted as a small farmstead settlement. Although no negative magnetic anomalies were evident, potentially indicative of masonry buildings, additional earth resistance or ground penetrating radar survey would be recommended to confirm this more fully. This demonstrates the value geophysical survey can offer to augment the aerial photographic record, particularly where site conditions limit the visibility of archaeological activity as regularly appearing cropmarks.