Monday 8 July 2019

Golfhenge - the planning statement extracts.

Statement – Archaeology & Cultural Heritage Land north of The Packway and east of Larkhill Former Stonehenge Golf Centre Phase 4 Date: December 2017

Air photos were obtained from the Historic England Archive in Swindon. The earliest photo (1924) showed the landscape prior to the construction of the sports pitches and with small arms ranges terraced into the hillside on the west side of the site. One small area of possible military trenching was also shown. No evidence of archaeological remains was identified on or around the site. An undated photo taken a short time after the construction of the sports pitches, demonstrated by the lack of trees around the boundary, shows a series of features consistent with probable Prehistoric ring ditches and in-filled linear earthworks immediately to the east of the site. By 1943, a USAF air photo shows a well-established sports pitch that is clearly terraced into the hill on its southern side and built up with fill materials to the north. By 1954, a photo shows that the trees around the site are maturing along their present lines. The historic maps consulted show open downland on the 1887 Ordnance Survey 6” First Edition, which is how it remains until the 1923 revision (published 1941) which shows the “Recreation Ground”. Neither maps shows any record of antiquities on the site.

 Archaeological works undertaken in support of the Phase 3 development have identified limited archaeological remains; however, a hengiform that included a ring ditch with a ring of large postholes encircling it was identified immediately north of the north-east corner of the Golf Centre.

An archaeological watching brief was undertaken by Wessex Archaeology during geotechnical investigations (Wessex Archaeology report 11598.1.01). This demonstrated that the whole hilltop had not been truncated during construction works and that a cut and fill method had been employed to level the playing fields, prior to their conversion into the Golf Centre. However, no archaeological features or deposits were identified during the watching brief.

While it was anticipated that the terracing of the sports pitches into the hill top may have truncated part of the site, the use of fill materials to level the pitches was anticipated to have potentially protected archaeological remains in other parts of the site. In addition, the nearby remains indicated high potential for archaeology to be present on the site. As a result, an archaeological evaluation was requested by the Wiltshire Council Archaeology Service, to better inform the planning application. The evaluation was to include trial trenching, equal to a 5% sample of the site area.

The archaeological evaluation of the proposed Phase 4 site was undertaken in December 2017. While no evidence for archaeological finds, deposits or features was identified across the greater part of the site, one trench, in the north-east corner of the site, revealed a large posthole and section of curved ditch. The trench was extended and revealed remains indicative of a hengiform similar to that seen in Phase 3, and this was confirmed by a further trench that showed more of the arrangement of ditch and attendant postholes very similar to that recorded in Phase 3.

Discussions with the Wiltshire Council Archaeology Service have indicated that either full excavation or preservation by design would be acceptable but that the latter option would entail more evaluation to better characterise the monument prior to its reburial. Full excavation has potential to provide extra information relating to the Phase 3 hengiform, which was lacking in any dateable material, and to the relationship between these two, similar monument. Discussions with Wiltshire Council Archaeology Service indicate that there will be no objection to the planning application but that an archaeological condition will the recommended, so that appropriate levels of mitigation, including the treatment of the hengiform, will be undertaken. A Written Scheme of Investigation for the excavation is currently in preparation by Wessex Archaeology for Lovell.

UPDATE - Wessex Archaeology kindly supplied this description: Hi Tim, one of two hengeforms fully excavated and recorded during the Army Basing Programme. They occupy a ridge of high ground and may be integral components (possibly earlier) of a linear (probable Bronze Age) barrow cemetery visible via Google Earth immediately to the east.

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