Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.

Henge monuments at Durrington Walls and Woodhenge, a round barrow cemetery, two additional round barrows and four settlements

A Scheduled Monument in Durrington, Wiltshire

Approximate Location Map
Large Map »
Street or Overhead View
Contributor Photos »

If Google Street View is available, the image is from the best available vantage point looking, if possible, towards the location of the monument. Where it is not available, the satellite view is shown instead.

Coordinates

Latitude: 51.1914 / 51°11'29"N

Longitude: -1.7866 / 1°47'11"W

OS Eastings: 415011.190181

OS Northings: 143595.277069

OS Grid: SU150435

Mapcode National: GBR 4ZW.C3K

Mapcode Global: VHB5B.ZBC0

Entry Name: Henge monuments at Durrington Walls and Woodhenge, a round barrow cemetery, two additional round barrows and four settlements

Scheduled Date: 19 November 1928

Last Amended: 6 June 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009133

English Heritage Legacy ID: 10365

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Durrington

Built-Up Area: Strangways

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: Durrington All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury

Details

The monument, which falls into two areas, includes Durrington Walls,
Woodhenge, a round barrow cemetery south of Woodhenge and two further bowl
barrows, together with settlements of Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age and
Romano-British date located within and around Durrington Walls and Woodhenge.
Durrington Walls is a large henge monument, roughly circular in shape with an
overall diameter of c.490m north-south and c.468m east-west, situated on a
south east slope overlooking the River Avon. A roughly circular area of 19ha
is surrounded by a ditch up to 17.6m wide and an outer bank which survives as
a spread feature on the east side, where it is c.40m wide and 1m high. The
henge has two opposed entrances, one in the north west and the other in the
south east, the latter facing the River Avon. The location of these and the
complete circuit of the ditch has been established by geophysical survey and
aerial photographs.

Partial excavations in 1966-7 revealed the remains of a sub-rectangular timber
structure and a complex circular timber structure in the interior of the
henge. These structures were accompanied by pottery and antler picks.
Radiocarbon dating indicates that the henge was in use in the period
2000-1600 BC.

Woodhenge lies some 70m south of Durrington Walls. It is a small henge
monument, circular in plan, with an internal area of c.0.16ha surrounded by a
ditch and outer bank; it has an overall diameter of 110m and a single entrance
to the NNE. Cultivation prior to World War II has eroded the earthworks, and
the ditch is difficult to identify on the ground; it does however survive as a
slight earthwork c.0.25m deep. Partial excavation in 1926-8 revealed that the
ditch is flat-bottomed, up to 12m wide and 2.4m deep. The outer bank is up to
10m wide and c.1m high. Also revealed were six concentric rings of post-holes
representing the site of a large circular structure; these are now marked by
concrete posts. Other finds from the excavation included an infant burial,
pottery, worked flint, stone and chalk, and animal bone. Radiocarbon dating
indicates that Woodhenge was in use c.1800 BC.

The monument also includes two isolated bowl barrows and a round barrow
cemetery consisting of four bowl barrows and a possible triple bowl barrow,
formerly identified as a long barrow. All of the barrows originally took the
form of mounds surrounded by ditches from which material was quarried during
their construction. The mounds are now difficult to identify on the ground
having been levelled by ploughing, while the ditches have become infilled over
the years but survive as buried features between c.1m to c.3.5m in width. The
barrows range in overall diameter from c.11m to c.35m. The most northerly of
the bowl barrows is located near the centre of Durrington Walls. Its position
and size have been confirmed by geophysical survey, from which it is known to
consist of two concentric circular ditches with an overall diameter of 35m. A
second bowl barrow is situated c.18m south of the outer bank of Durrington
Walls and is known from partial excavation in 1951 to be c.11m in overall
diameter. The excavation revealed a shallow central grave containing a
crouched inhumation and a large plain beaker. The remaining four barrows
together with the triple bowl barrow form a round barrow cemetery located
south of Woodhenge. The four individual barrows form a NNW-SSE line, and from
aerial photographs and partial excavation are known to have overall diameters
ranging from 18m-25m. The most southerly of the four had two concentric
ditches surrounding an arrangement of eight post-holes and a Beaker burial
accompanied by a perforated stone axe. The southern part of the cemetery is
made up of a mound 64m long, up to 30m wide and c.1.75m high. A 19th century
fieldworker recorded this as three mounds in close proximity, and aerial
photographs reveal three mounds surrounded by a single enclosing ditch. One of
the circular mounds is clearly visible at the centre of the feature. The site,
previously identified as a long barrow, is believed to represent a triple bowl
barrow.

Late Neolithic settlement has been revealed by partial excavation to the
north, south west and south of Durrington Walls, also from Woodhenge and the
area of the round barrow cemetery to the south. To the north of Durrington
Walls, Neolithic pits containing pottery sherds and worked flint have been
found within the reservoir compound and on the south side of The Packway. Some
20m south west of Durrington Walls four pits and a ditch were revealed in
excavations in 1970, and 64m south of the henge bank near the south east
entrance indications of a possible Neolithic timber structure were excavated.
Neolithic occupation debris and six pits were found beneath the bank of
Woodhenge, and post-holes and storage pits containing Late Neolithic pottery
were found on the site of one of the barrows in the round barrow cemetery.
To the south of Durrington Walls and to the south and west of Woodhenge is
situated a Middle Bronze Age settlement. An egg-shaped enclosure c.23m in
diameter forming a part of the settlement was partially excavated in 1926-28,
revealing pits and post-holes in the interior. Pottery and the charred remains
of barley were also found. Parching of the grassland in times of drought has
revealed a series of rectangular enclosures which relate to the egg-shaped
enclosure. The largest is some 200m by 120m and is approached by a ditched
trackway from the NNW. Three smaller rectangular enclosures ranging from 50m
to 80m on each side contain indications of pits, post-holes and four probable
hut circles. A segmented circular enclosure attached to the `egg' may be a
the site of a fifth dwelling.

Indications of Iron Age settlement have been found during partial excavation
within Durrington Walls, and include 12 pits and a palisade ditch, while a
Romano-British settlement has been found south west of Durrington Walls. This
includes pits, post-holes and gullies, with indications from pieces of dressed
stone of the presence of a building nearby. Remains of two small enclosures,
one containing a corn-drying oven, and two infant burials have been found in
the same area, and pottery from the excavations indicates a date c.AD 275-400.

Fargo Road and the former A345 are excluded from the scheduling but the ground
beneath them is included. All fence posts are excluded from the scheduling but
the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A small number of areas in southern England appear to have acted as foci for
ceremonial and ritual activity during the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods.
Two of the best known and the earliest recognised areas are around Avebury and
Stonehenge, now jointly designated as a World Heritage Site.
The area of chalk downland which surrounds Stonehenge contains one of the
densest and most varied groups of Neolithic and Bronze Age field monuments in
Britain. Included within the area are Stonehenge itself, the Stonehenge
cursus, the Durrington Walls henge, and a variety of burial monuments, many
grouped into cemeteries.
The area has been the subject of archaeological research since the 18th
century when Stukeley recorded many of the monuments and partially excavated a
number of the burial mounds. More recently, the collection of artefacts from
the surfaces of ploughed fields has supplemented the evidence for ritual and
burial by revealing the intensity of contemporary settlement and land-use.
In view of the importance of the area, all ceremonial and sepulchral monuments
of this period which retain significant archaeological remains are identified
as nationally important.

Henges are ritual or ceremonial centres which date to the Late Neolithic
period (2800-2000 BC). They were constructed as roughly circular or
oval-shaped enclosures comprising a flat area over 20m in diameter enclosed
by a ditch and external bank. One, two or four entrances provided access to
the interior of the monument, which may have contained a variety of features
including timber or stone circles, post or stone alignments, pits, burials or
central mounds. Finds from the ditches and interiors of henges provide
evidence for the chronological development of the sites, the types of activity
that occurred within them and the nature of the environment in which they were
constructed. Henges occur throughout England with the exception of
south eastern counties and the Welsh Marches. They are generally situated on
low ground, often close to springs and water-courses. Henges are rare
nationally with about 80 known examples.

Durrington Walls, Woodhenge and their associated sites form a distinctive and
well known concentration of ceremonial and associated settlement features in
the Stonehenge landscape. Partial excavation has revealed detail of the timber
structures erected within henge monuments, while the role of aerial
photography, geophysical survey and subsequent analysis of finds from the
excavation have enhanced our understanding of the nature and extent of the
monument.

Durrington Walls is one of the largest henge monuments known, exceeding Marden
and even Avebury in overall diameter. The timber structures found within it
are themselves the size and form of many small henges, leading to the
suggestion that Durrington Walls should be termed a `henge enclosure.' The
post rings found within Woodhenge mirror the structures revealed within the
larger monument, implying a ceremonial relationship between the two.
The presence of a round barrow cemetery to the south of Woodhenge, thought to
be contemporary with the two henges, may indicate that some part of the
ceremonial activity was connected with burial rites, and replicates the
situation at Stonehenge where a number of round barrows are located a short
distance away. The triple barrow forming the southernmost part of the
Durrington group is a rare example of a confluent round barrow.
The presence of Iron Age and Romano-British settlements in and around
Durrington Walls provides evidence for its continued use beyond the period of
its primarily ceremonial function.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Cunnington, B H, Woodhenge, (1929)
Cunnington, B H, Woodhenge, (1929), 41-48
Cunnington, B H, Woodhenge, (1929), 49-52
Cunnington, B H, Woodhenge, (1929), 41-48
Grinsell, LV, The Victoria History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume V, (1957), 172
Grinsell, LV, The Victoria History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume V, (1957), 172
Grinsell, LV, The Victoria History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume V, (1957), 172
Grinsell, LV, The Victoria History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume V, (1957), 172
Grinsell, LV, The Victoria History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume V, (1957), 172
Grinsell, LV, The Victoria History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume V, (1957), 172
Grinsell, LV, The Victoria History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume V, (1957), 65
Hoare, R C, Ancient History of Wiltshire, (1812), 170
RCHME, , Stonehenge and its Environs, (1979), 24
RCHME, , Stonehenge and its Environs, (1979), 16-17
RCHME, , Stonehenge and its Environs, (1979), 18-19
RCHME, , Stonehenge and its Environs, (1979), 1
RCHME, , Stonehenge and its Environs, (1979), 22
RCHME, , Stonehenge and its Environs, (1979), 15,22
RCHME, , Stonehenge and its Environs, (1979), 23-24
Crawford, O G S, 'Antiquity' in Durrington Walls, , Vol. 3, (1929), 49-59
Crawford, O G S, 'Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine' in Durrington Walls, , Vol. 44, (1929), 393
Farrer, P, 'Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine' in Durrington Walls, or Long Walls, , Vol. 40, (1919), 95-103
Stone, JFS et al, 'Antiquaries Journal' in Durrington Walls, Wiltshire:Recent Excavations, , Vol. 34, (1954), 164
Wainwright, G J, Evans, J G, 'Mount Pleasant, Dorset: excavations 1970-1971' in The Woodhenge Excavations, (1979), 71-74
Wainwright, GJ et al, 'Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine' in Excavation Of Prehistoric And RB Settlements Near Durrington Walls, , Vol. 66, (1971), 78-82
Wainwright, GJ et al, 'Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine' in Excavation Of Prehistoric And RB Settlements Near Durrington Walls, , Vol. 66, (1971), 76-128
Wainwright, GJ et al, 'Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine' in Excavation Of Prehistoric And RB Settlements Near Durrington Walls, , Vol. 66, (1971), 83-94
Wainwright, GJ et al, 'Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine' in Excavation Of Prehistoric And RB Settlements Near Durrington Walls, , Vol. 66, (1971), 82
Wainwright, GJ et al, 'Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine' in Excavation Of Prehistoric And RB Settlements Near Durrington Walls, , Vol. 66, (1971), 82-83
Wainwright, G J, Longworth, I H, 'Society of Antiquaries Research Report' in Durrington Walls: Excavations 1966-68, (1971), 207-10
Wainwright, G J, Longworth, I H, 'Society of Antiquaries Research Report' in Durrington Walls: Excavations 1966-68, (1971), -

Source: Historic England

Other nearby scheduled monuments

AncientMonuments.uk is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact AncientMonuments.uk for any queries related to any individual ancient or schedued monument, planning permission related to scheduled monuments or the scheduling process itself.

AncientMonuments.uk is a Good Stuff website.