Ancient Monuments

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Causewayed enclosure 900m west of Great Wilbraham parish church

A Scheduled Monument in Little Wilbraham, Cambridgeshire

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Latitude: 52.1971 / 52°11'49"N

Longitude: 0.2517 / 0°15'6"E

OS Eastings: 553992.444784

OS Northings: 257819.413277

OS Grid: TL539578

Mapcode National: GBR M8Z.BFB

Mapcode Global: VHHKC.91XJ

Entry Name: Causewayed enclosure 900m west of Great Wilbraham parish church

Scheduled Date: 5 January 1976

Last Amended: 4 January 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009103

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20449

County: Cambridgeshire

Civil Parish: Little Wilbraham

Traditional County: Cambridgeshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cambridgeshire

Church of England Parish: Great Wilbraham St Nicholas

Church of England Diocese: Ely


The monument includes a causewayed enclosure, defined by a double circuit
of ditches. It is located on a low-lying knoll of chalk marl surrounded by
peat, situated to the south of the Little Wilbraham River. Low ploughed-down
earthworks mark the location of the monument but the enclosure is most clearly
observed from the air and is recorded on aerial photographs; the following
description is largely based on the photographic record. The enclosure is
roughly oval in plan and has maximum dimensions of 260m east-west by 200m
north-south. The outer ditch is estimated to be 4m wide and is interrupted by
at least five causeways on its south-western arm. The inner ditch is separated
from the outer by a distance of between 20-50m and is of similar width,
although the circuit is less clearly defined than that of the outer ditch.
Several poorly defined curvilinear features, thought to be subsidiary
enclosure ditches, have been observed towards the western end of the interior.
A straight linear feature, on an approximate northerly alignment, which runs
across the centre of the enclosure, is thought to be a later field boundary or
drainage ditch. Small scale excavations, accompanied by geophysical survey and
surface collection of finds, were carried out in 1975-6. Three types of
deposits were found to survive; features cut into bedrock, covered by layers
of material eroded from the top of the knoll, and associated with peat
containing waterlogged organic materials. Two phases of ditch construction and
a palisade trench inside the outer ditch were recorded while a variety of
artefacts of Neolithic date were recovered. There was also evidence of minor
re-use of the site in the Roman period.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 5 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

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 2 to
70 acres) 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. Due to their rarity, their wide diversity
of plan, and their considerable age, all causewayed enclosures are considered
to be nationally important.

Despite being reduced by cultivation, the monument 900m west of Great
Wilbraham church is one of the best-preserved of its type in Cambridgeshire
and, because partial excavation has demonstrated the presence of three
distinct types of deposits, it is known to retain conditions for the recovery
of evidence pertaining to the use of the site.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Palmer, R, 'Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society' in Interrupted Ditch Enclosures in Britain, , Vol. 42, (1976), 185
CUCAP: BJC 50-7, (1972)
CUCAP: BUY 20-2, (1976)
CUCAP: BXG 65-75, (1975)
Unpublished summary in parish file, 1976,
Wilson, D R, Antiquity, (1975)

Source: Historic England

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