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The Hatfield Earthwork: a henge enclosure, henge and remains of monumental mound at Marden

A Scheduled Monument in Marden, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 51.3229 / 51°19'22"N

Longitude: -1.8711 / 1°52'15"W

OS Eastings: 409079.525423

OS Northings: 158206.92488

OS Grid: SU090582

Mapcode National: GBR 3WQ.V2K

Mapcode Global: VHB4Q.J06P

Entry Name: The Hatfield Earthwork: a henge enclosure, henge and remains of monumental mound at Marden

Scheduled Date: 9 February 1953

Last Amended: 11 March 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014617

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26707

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Marden

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: Chirton and Patney St John the Baptist

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument, which lies adjacent to the River Avon near the village of
Marden, includes a later Neolithic henge enclosure within which lie a small
henge and the site of a monumental mound, both of similar date to the
The henge enclosure has a substantial earthwork ditch with an external bank,
which together define three sides of an irregular area of approximately 15ha.
The fourth side of the enclosure is formed by the edge of the floodplain of
the River Avon and the total area enclosed measures a maximum of 530m (north-
south) by 360m (east-west). The earthwork appears to have been constructed in
short, straight sections and has two entrances, on its north and east sides.
The profile of the ditch and bank varies considerably, having been altered by
both natural erosion and, in places, by the effects of cultivation. Where best
preserved within woodland the bank is up to 40m wide and 2.75m high. Within
pasture, where it is more clearly visible, the ditch appears to be up to 14m
wide and up to 1m deep.
Excavations carried out by Wainwright in 1966-7 demonstrated that the northern
entrance of the henge enclosure was defined by a gap in the bank and ditch 15m
and 10m wide respectively. The gaps in the bank and ditch at the eastern
entrance, revealed by geophysical survey and by boring, were 19m and 14m
respectively. At the point at which it was excavated close to the northern
entrance the ditch was 18m wide and 2m deep with gently sloping sides above a
flat bottom 9.5m wide. The lower levels of the ditch filling contained
quantities of later Neolithic pottery, flints and animal bones, together with
the crouched burial of a young adult female. The bank was also examined by
excavation close to the northern entrance and at this point was shown to be
13.5m wide with a maximum height of approximately 1m.
The excavations confirmed that the henge enclosure was constructed in the
later Neolithic period (c. 2400 BC) and also revealed post holes and other
settlement remains lying immediately within the northern entrance. The
post holes have been interpreted as the remains of a circular timber building
10.5m in diameter.
Within the henge enclosure, on the southern side and close to the river, lies
a small earthwork henge. The henge has a gently domed circular area, 40m in
diameter, surrounded by a circular ditch approximately 8m wide. The base of
the ditch lies approximately 0.8m below the top of the central domed area.
Beyond the ditch lies a low bank, between 10m and 12m wide and 0.7m high. A
small scale excavation carried out by William Cunnington in the early 19th
century produced only small quantities of prehistoric pottery.
Immediately within the eastern entrance to the enclosure lie the remains of
the Hatfield Barrow, a monumental mound which formerly resembled a huge round
barrow. In 1768 the Reverend Mayo recorded that the mound was 70yds to 80yds
(64m-73m) in diameter and 30ft (9.1m) high. The mound was investigated by
William Cunnington in 1807, but the excavations failed to produce any evidence
of use for burial. The disturbance caused by the excavation resulted in the
collapse of the centre of the mound which by 1818 had been completely
Geophysical survey has shown that the ditch, from which material was quarried
during construction of the mound, survives as a circular buried feature 28m
wide and 105m in external diameter.
Part of the monument is in the care of the Secretary of State.
Excluded from the scheduling are all roads, fences, buildings, paths, ponds,
areas of hard standing, water troughs and poles for overhead cables, although
the ground beneath all these features is included.

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 England appear to have acted as foci for ceremonial
and ritual activity during the Late Neolithic period (2800 - 2000 BC). Within
this period great effort was invested in the construction of substantial
earthworks of varying form. The river valleys of Wessex contain several of
these ritual foci, one example of which lies close to the village of Marden in
the valley of the River Avon. Here, adjacent to the river, lies a henge
enclosure known as the Hatfield Earthwork, within which are a henge and the
remains of the Hatfield Barrow, a monumental mound.
Henge enclosures are settlements and ceremonial centres dating to between
2400 and 2000 BC. They were constructed as large, roughly circular or oval
enclosures, usually over 300m across, comprising an area of ground more or
less completely enclosed by a ditch and external bank. Either two or four
fairly wide entranceways through the earthwork provided access to the interior
of the monument which may have contained a variety of features including round
houses, timber circles, fences and burials. Only four henge enclosures have
been firmly identified, three in Wiltshire and one in Dorset. They are
distinguished from the more common, but still rare, henges by their size and
by the evidence of higher levels of activity within their interiors. All the
known examples are in low-lying situations, on gentle hillslopes or
overlooking watercourses. They occur as isolated examples yet typically
contain or lie adjacent to or on henges. The spacing between the four henge
enclosures is so regular as to suggest that each may have formed the focus of
a particular tract of land or territory.
The Hatfield Earthwork is a well preserved example of this class of monument,
with the majority of the circuit of the enclosure defined by recognisable
earthworks. The definition of the fourth side of the enclosure by a
watercourse is a feature unique to this site. Limited investigations of the
ditch and part of the interior of the enclosure have provided a firm
indication of the date of construction and use and have shown that the site
contains well preserved buried deposits. The henge and the remains of the
monumental mound which lie within the Hatfield Earthwork are examples of
ritual or ceremonial sites of broadly similar date to the henge
Henges 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, which may
have contained a variety of features including timber or stone circles, post
or stone alignments, pits, burials or central mounds. Henges, rare sites of
which nationally about 80 examples are known, were constructed 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
The henge within the Hatfield Earthwork is a well preserved example
with an unusual domed interior. Excavations carried out in the early 19th
century were limited in scale.
Monumental mounds, of which Silbury Hill close to Avebury in Wiltshire is the
largest and best known example, are large conical mounds of earth, usually
surrounded by a ditch from which material was quarried during its
construction. They are of exceptional rarity and, of the four examples
currently known, only Silbury Hill has been examined in detail. Here a Late
Neolithic date was confirmed and the lack of burial evidence led to the
suggestion of a broadly ceremonial function for this class of site. This
interpretation would appear to be supported by the common association of
monumental mounds with henges and henge enclosures.
The Hatfield Barrow, despite episodes of destruction which have levelled the
mound, may still be expected to contain well preserved archaeological
The three sites included within the monument are all examples of the few types
of site which characterise the later Neolithic period. Due to their rarity
these sites are individually considered to be of national importance. Together
they form a complex, of high amenity value, all elements of which will contain
archaeological remains providing information about Neolithic ceremony, social
organisation, economy and environment.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Camden, W (trans Gough R), Britannia, (1806), 159
Camden, W, Gough, R, Britannia: Volume I, (1806), 159
Colt Hoare, R, History of Ancient Wiltshire: Volume II, (1821), 4-7
Wainwright, G J, Longworth, I H, Durrington Walls. Excavations 1966-68, (1971)
Cunnington, R H, 'Wiltshire Natural History and Archaeological Magazine' in Marden and the Cunnington Manuscripts, (1955), 4-11
Cunnington, R H, 'Wiltshire Natural History and Archaeological Magazine' in Marden and the Cunnington Manuscripts, (1955), 4-11
Wainwright, G J, 'Antiquaries Journal' in The Excavation Of A Late Neolithic Enclosure At Marden, Wilts, (1971), 177-239
Wainwright, G J, 'Antiquaries Journal' in The Excavation Of A Late Neolithic Enclosure At Marden, Wilts, (1971), 177-239

Source: Historic England

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