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Causewayed enclosure and Iron Age defended settlement with outworks called Buzbury Rings

A Scheduled Monument in Tarrant Rawston, Dorset

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Latitude: 50.8529 / 50°51'10"N

Longitude: -2.1172 / 2°7'1"W

OS Eastings: 391844.878762

OS Northings: 105942.02791

OS Grid: ST918059

Mapcode National: GBR 1ZJ.KJS

Mapcode Global: FRA 66GV.709

Entry Name: Causewayed enclosure and Iron Age defended settlement with outworks called Buzbury Rings

Scheduled Date: 26 March 1934

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1002718

English Heritage Legacy ID: DO 127

County: Dorset

Civil Parish: Tarrant Rawston

Traditional County: Dorset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: Tarrant Keynston with Tarrant Crawford All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument includes a causewayed enclosure and Iron Age defended settlement with outworks situated at the summit of a prominent hill on Keynston Down, overlooking several dry valleys leading to The Tarrant. The defences of the settlement suggest several phases of construction and recent geophysical and lidar surveys, carried out in 2006, revealed a D-shaped Neolithic causewayed enclosure formed the basis of the settlement which continued in use, evolving in form, up until the Iron Age. The earthworks survive as an inner enclosed area of approximately 1ha defined by a single rampart bank which is preserved differentially, but stands up to 9.1m wide and 1.2m high. This has been cut on the north eastern side by a road and several later tracks. Within this inner enclosure are several circular depressions measuring from 6m up to 9m in diameter. These represent buildings, and aerial photographs reveal many further buried pits in the interior of the enclosure. Beyond the first rampart and not concentric to it is a larger outer enclosure covering an entire area of 5ha. This outer enclosure is defined by an outer bank of up to 10m wide and 1.5m high with a buried outer ditch of approximately 3m wide and 0.3m deep. Partial excavation demonstrated that this was V-shaped and up to 3m wide and 1.5m deep. To the west an inner ditch of up to 2.1m wide and 1.5m deep was also revealed. Confined to the south and west is a middle rampart of 4m wide and 0.5m high above a largely-buried ditch of up to 5m wide and 0.5m deep. To the south east three oval depressions are cut into the inner face of the rampart bank and are interpreted as buildings. To the north west, immediately outside the inner rampart, are at least three further building scoops. Many artefacts have been recovered from the site over time, most concentrated within the inner enclosure. These include Iron Age pottery, Roman pottery dating from the 2nd to 4th centuries, large quantities of ox and sheep bones, flints, and wattle-marked daub, presumably from the buildings. This suggests a small rural settlement, which expanded over time and was occupied for a prolonged period.
Further archaeological remains survive in the vicinity and are scheduled separately.

Sources: HER:-
PastScape Monument No:-209339

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Cranborne Chase is an area of chalkland well known for its high number, density and diversity of archaeological remains. These include a rare combination of Neolithic and Early Bronze Age sites, comprising one of the largest concentrations of burial monuments in England, the largest known cursus (a linear ritual monument) and a significant number and range of henge monuments (Late Neolithic ceremonial centres). Other important remains include a variety of enclosures, settlements, field systems and linear boundaries which date throughout prehistory and into the Romano-British and medieval periods. This high level of survival of archaeological remains is due largely to the later history of the Chase. Cranborne Chase formed a Royal Hunting Ground from at least Norman times, and much of the archaeological survival within the area resulted from associated laws controlling land-use which applied until 1830. The unique archaeological character of the Chase has attracted much attention over the years, notably during the later 19th century, by the pioneering work on the Chase of General Pitt-Rivers, Sir Richard Colt Hoare and Edward Cunnington, often regarded as the fathers of British archaeology. Archaeological investigations have continued throughout the 20th century and to the present day. Between 50 and 70 causewayed enclosures are recorded nationally, mainly in southern and eastern England. They were constructed over a period of some 500 years during the middle part of the Neolithic period (c.3000-2400 BC) but also continued in use into later periods. They vary considerably in size (from 0.8ha to 28ha) and were apparently used for a variety of functions, including settlement, defence, and ceremonial and funerary purposes. However, all comprise a roughly circular to ovoid area bounded by one or more concentric rings of banks and ditches. The ditches, from which the monument class derives its name, were formed of a series of elongated pits punctuated by unexcavated causeways. Causewayed enclosures are amongst the earliest field monuments to survive as recognisable features in the modern landscape and are one of the few known Neolithic monument types. They are very rare, have a wide diversity of plan and are of considerable age so are considered to be extremely important. During the Iron Age a variety of different types of settlement were constructed and occupied in south western England. At the top of the settlement hierarchy were hillforts built in prominent locations. In addition to these a group of smaller sites, known as defended settlements, were also constructed. Some of these were located on hilltops, others in less prominent positions. They are generally smaller than the hillforts, sometimes with an enclosed area of less than 1ha. The enclosing defences were of earthen construction. Univallate sites have a single bank and ditch, multivallate sites more than one. At some sites these earthen ramparts represent a second phase of defence, the first having been a timber fence or palisade. Where excavated, evidence of stone- or timber-built houses has been found within the enclosures, which, in contrast to the hillfort sites, would have been occupied by small communities, perhaps no more than a single family group. Defended settlements are a rare monument type. They were an important element of the settlement pattern, particularly in the upland areas of south western England, and are integral to any study of the developing use of fortified settlements during this period. Despite reduction in the height of the earthworks through agricultural practices, the causewayed enclosure and Iron Age defended settlement with outworks called Buzbury Rings survives comparatively well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, development, longevity, trade, agricultural practices, social organisation, territorial significance, domestic arrangements and overall landscape context.

Source: Historic England

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