Tuesday 30 January 2018

A Cats Brain type monument near Stonehenge?

The Archaeology report from the Highways Agency reveals this new "Early Neolithic long barrow" to the south of the A303 - but to me it seems to be very similar to Cats Brain recently excavated by Jim Leary.

Some snippets from the report - highlighting by me, full details are in the report.

The barrow located towards the south-west of SW2 (Barrow 2) had been identified by recent geophysical survey undertaken by Wessex Archaeology. .. No firm evidence for a surviving in situ internal mound, underlying mortuary deposits or buried soils were identified .. during the evaluation.

Barrow 2 has evidence for the existence of either a free-standing timber structure or a post-revetted mound. The former could be part of a fa├žade as at this stage its true extent is unknown. .. there was evidence that (the ditches) of Barrow 2 had been deliberately and rapidly infilled.

A fragment of a chalk fossil (possibly an urchin) was recovered from western ditch (slot 9334) of long Barrow 2; although not worked it could conceivably have been retained as a curio. Another fragments of chalk was recovered from cremation grave 512 (associated with the small penannular ditched monument). It is a small sub-square fragment (approximately 500 by 400 by 200 mm) with converging and parallel striations on one of the larger flat surfaces which may be cut marks.

That is a lump of chalk 20 by 16 inches and 8 inches thick - as soon as the measurements are put in proper units it is obvious they are wrong. I guess they meant 2 inches by 1.6 and 0.8 inches thick...)

Barrow 2 comprised of two near-parallel ditches. ... They were some 15 m apart, aligned close to north–south, the eastern ditch appearing to be approximately 45 m long, and the western ditch 38 m long. ..The eastern ditch at its northern end (9305) was 2 m wide and at least 0.95 m deep, with steep sides; the base was not reached.. It had a sequence of at least five fills... The eastern ditch at its southern end (9413) was 2.4 m wide with steep sides, and was excavated to a depth of 1 m below the surface of the natural chalk without the base being reached... The western ditch at the northern end (9334) was 3.1 m wide with steep slightly irregular side, and was excavated to a depth of 1 m below the surface of the natural chalk without the base being reached.. ; hand augering through the unexcavated fills suggested a total depth of 1.2 m. The lowest recorded fill (9314/9322), from which a fractured ground stone axe  and a chalk fossil (possibly a curio) were recovered, comprised
loose chalk. .... Other finds include 64 pieces of worked flint, a piece of chalk with parallel striations, and animal bone (630g).The western ditch at it southern end (9405) was 2 m wide with steep slightly
irregular side, and was excavated to a depth of 1 m below the surface of the natural chalk without the base being reached. The unexcavated fills were hand augered to try to establish the depth of the ditch without the need to widen the trench and step the section and thus cause unnecessary damage; the augering suggested a total depth of 1.2 m.

No features were recorded in the interior of the monument, between the two ditches. However, there are hints from the GPR survey of possible postholes flanking the position of the mound.

No traces of a barrow mound survived within the evaluation trenches. However, the slight doming of the surface of the chalk, and presence of more degraded natural between the ditches probably results from the partial protection of the chalk from ploughing by the presence of the former mound. It is possible that the dark soil layers noted in the ditch section derive from the barrow mound.

Grave 512 had been heavily truncated by pit 513, and its original size could not be determined, although what may have been its base (or a depression in its base) was 0.5 m in diameter. The base of the grave was approximately 1 m below the surface of the chalk. Some of its lower fill (508) survived up to 0.08 m below the base of pit 513 (which was 0.8 m deep). It contained an unurned cremation deposit (508), which was excavated in four quadrants, and produced 1600 g of cremated human bone (Plate 10-9). A sample of cremated human bone returned a radiocarbon date of 2890–2620 cal BC (SUERC-70556, 4167±33 BP). However, a sample of roundwood charcoal from the same context returned a date of 3350–3010 cal BC (UBA-33147, 4469±37 BP), perhaps indicating the use of old wood in the cremation pyre. A sample charred hazelnut shell (also from the deposit) returned a date of 2140–1910 cal BC (UBA-33148, 3650±37 BP); this material was probably intrusive

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