Ancient Monuments

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Banjo enclosure, 330m south west of Manor Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Harrold, Bedford

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Latitude: 52.2017 / 52°12'6"N

Longitude: -0.6402 / 0°38'24"W

OS Eastings: 493025.102496

OS Northings: 256810.122288

OS Grid: SP930568

Mapcode National: GBR DZN.T4S

Mapcode Global: VHFPR.VXDK

Entry Name: Banjo enclosure, 330m south west of Manor Farm

Scheduled Date: 2 December 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013524

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27117

County: Bedford

Civil Parish: Harrold

Traditional County: Bedfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Bedfordshire

Church of England Parish: Harrold

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans


The monument includes the buried remains of an Iron Age banjo enclosure
located in the centre of a broad spur of high ground extending for some 4km to
the east of the A509 (Olney to Bozeat Road); at the eastern end of which lies
the village of Harrold and the course of the River Great Ouse.
Although no earthworks can now be seen on the ground, the enclosure is clearly
visible from the air as a cropmark, which has been recorded by aerial
photography. The enclosure is defined by the position of a buried ditch,
measuring approximately 2m-3m in width. It is roughly circular in plan with a
maximum diamater of about 55m. The western part of the circuit is broken by an
entranceway, about 12m in width, from either side of which the ditch extends
for about 60m to form an approach or avenue orientated WSW along the top of
the spur. The avenue is thought to have been connected to a trackway or field
system arranged across the ridge, although the photographic evidence for
this is obscured by the direction of ploughing. A sample of this area, 10m
beyond the western end of the avenue, is therefore included in the scheduling
in order to protect the archaeological relationship between these features.
A number of small cropmarks have been noted within the enclosure, which are
considered to indicate the locations of buried features such as storage or
refuse pits. The buried remains of other features are also thought likely to
survive, including traces of the foundations of timber structures in the
enclosure and gateposts at the entrance.

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

Banjo enclosure is the term used by archaeologists for a distinctive type of
prehistoric settlement. They were mostly constructed and used during the
Middle Iron Age (400-100 BC), although some remained in use up to the time of
the Roman Conquest (AD 43). Typical banjo enclosures have an oval or sub-
rectangular central area, rarely greater than 0.4ha in size, encircled by a
broad, steep-sided ditch and an external bank. There is characteristically a
single entrance, approached by an avenue up to 90m long formed by out-turnings
of the enclosure's ditch. The entrance to the avenue sometimes has further
`antennae' ditches, giving a funnel-like appearance; or it may be connected to
a transverse linear ditch. The enclosures resemble banjos when viewed in plan,
hence their name. Excavated banjo enclosures have been found to contain
evidence of habitation, evidence for wooden structures provided by post holes
and drainage gullies, and storage and refuse pits. These features, together
with the ditches, generally contain abundant artefacts, and can provide
environmental evidence illustrating the landscape in which the monument was
set, and the economy of its inhabitants. The enclosures are often associated
with other types of Iron Age monuments, including other enclosures, field
systems, trackways and other unenclosed settlement forms. Together, these
monument types provide information concerning the diversity of social
organisation and farming practices amongst prehistoric communities.
Banjo enclosures are largely known from cropmarks and soilmarks recorded from
the air, although a few survive as earthworks. Over 200 examples are recorded
nationally, the majority of which are located in Wessex and around the upper
Thames Valley: particular concentrations have been noted on the chalk downland
of Hampshire. Elsewhere they are very rare, with isolated examples recorded in
the Midlands and the north. The existence of further examples is likely to be
confirmed by aerial photographic survey. Examples with significant surviving
remains are considered worthy of protection, as are those representing the
range of known types.

The banjo enclosure 330m south west of Manor Farm is a rare example of this
class of monument, one of a very limited number of such sites known to exist
to the west of Oxfordshire and to the north of the Thames Valley. Despite
being reduced by ploughing, the enclosure and entrance ditches will survive as
buried features which, together with the infilled features within the
enclosure, will contain artefacts illustrating the use of the site and lives
of its inhabitants.
The proximity of the banjo enclosure to the course of the River Great Ouse is
of particular interest. The river valley is known to have formed the focus for
a wide variety of prehistoric activity, with numerous settlements, ritual
monuments and burial grounds located along its length. Study of the various
sites located within this landscape will provide a detailed picture of the
development of prehistoric settlement patterns in the region.

Source: Historic England


Conversation with the landowner, Northern, J, The Park Trackway, (1994)
Oblique monochrome (cropmarks), Field, K, 2715/36, (1984)
Oblique, monochrome (cropmarks), Northants County Council, 2505/27-8, 2521/5A-6, 2529/33, (1984)

Source: Historic England

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