Ancient Monuments

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Hengi-form monument 480m south of Dairy Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Renhold, Bedford

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Latitude: 52.1439 / 52°8'38"N

Longitude: -0.377 / 0°22'37"W

OS Eastings: 511156.966852

OS Northings: 250753.699937

OS Grid: TL111507

Mapcode National: GBR H3F.FJB

Mapcode Global: VHFQ9.FC1T

Entry Name: Hengi-form monument 480m south of Dairy Farm

Scheduled Date: 11 July 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015586

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27181

County: Bedford

Civil Parish: Renhold

Traditional County: Bedfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Bedfordshire

Church of England Parish: Renhold

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans


The monument includes the buried remains of a hengi-form monument located in a
low-lying arable field on the north side of the Gadsey Brook - a tributary
which flows into the River Great Ouse some 700m to the south east.
Although the hengi-form monument is no longer visible on the ground, it can
clearly be identified as a cropmark and soil mark from the air, and has been
recorded by aerial photography on numerous occasions since 1970. The most
clearly visible component of the site is a circular ditch, c.24m in diameter,
which is broken by a single entranceway on the south side, facing towards the
course of the Ouse. The entrance measures approximately 5m across, flanked to
either side by broadened ditch terminals. Slight traces of a concentric
internal feature, perhaps a ditch, have also been noted from the aerial
Recent archaeological studies of the gravel terraces in the Great Ouse Valley
have provided considerable evidence for Late Neolithic and Bronze Age
settlement and ritual practises. A similar monument (slightly larger and
therefore termed a `henge') lies c.300m to the ENE, in close proximity to the
buried remains of two bowl barrows. The remains of two further barrows lie
approximately 140m to the NNE. This group, which is the subject of separate
schedulings, is considered to be an outlying aspect of a larger cropmark
complex (also scheduled separately) located some 1.6km to the WSW and
containing a variety of mortuary enclosures and other funerary monuments. The
monument, south of Dairy Farm is comparable with another hengi-form monument,
also identified from cropmark evidence, at Goldington on the outskirts of
Bedford some 3.5km to the west. This was excavated in 1988 to reveal an inner
ring of post holes, cremation burials in collared urns and evidence of food
consumption on the site.

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

Hengi-form monuments are ritual or ceremonial centres closely connected with
burial and dating to the Middle and Late Neolithic periods (3000-2000 BC).
They were constructed as flat, roughly circular enclosures comprising an area
of ground typically between 5m and 20m across enclosed by a ditch with
external bank. One entrance or two opposing entrances through the earthwork
provided access to the interior of the monument which often contained pits,
cremation pits, postholes and graves. Cremation pits and postholes were often
present around the perimeter of the site. They are distinguished from standard
henges by their small size and their more specific association with burial.
Finds from the ditches and interiors of hengi-form monuments provide important
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. Most examples are situated on gravel terraces or on hill slopes.
They sometimes occur in pairs or groups of three in close proximity. Hengi-
form monuments are very rare nationally with only 24 examples known, although
this is likely to be an underestimate in view of the difficulties in
recognition. As one of the few types of identified Neolithic structures and in
view of their rarity, all hengi-form monuments are considered to be of
national importance.

Despite the damage caused by ploughing, the hengi-form monument to the south
of Dairy Farm will retain significant archaeological information. The area
within the ditch will contain buried deposits relating to funerary activities,
material spread from the former bank and evidence of any original timber
structures. The fills of the buried ditch will retain artifactual evidence
indicating both the date of construction and the duration of use, and will
contain valuable environmental evidence illustrating the appearance of the
landscape in which it was set.
The gravel terraces of the Great River Ouse are known to have provided the
focus for burial and ritual activities in the Neolithic period and Bronze Age.
This monument forms part of a particularly interesting group including the
buried remains of the henge and barrows located nearby, and the larger complex
of mortuary monuments to the WSW. The study of these sites will provide
significant information regarding the continuity and evolution of prehistoric
funerary practices in the area, and contribute to research into the
distribution of prehistoric settlement.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Clarke, R, Dawson, M, 'Chiltern Archaeology: Recent Work' in The Prehistoric and Romano-British landscape in Bedfordshire, (1995), 57
Mustoe, R S, 'Bedfordshire Archaeology' in Salvage Excavation of a Neolithic and Bronze Site at Goldington, , Vol. 18, (1988), 1-5
Woodward, P J, 'Arch J' in Bronze Age Settlement Patterns in the Great Ouse Valley, , Vol. 135, (1978), 32-56
CUCAP, BYB 34, (1970)
MPP Schedule entries 20745-9, Wild, S, Neolithic and Bronze Age Mortuary Complex North West of Octagon Farm, (1993)
Oblique monochrome AP, CUCAP, BIC 31, (1972)
Oblique monochrome AP, CUCAP, BJF 65, (1972)
Oblique monochrome AP, CUCAP, BNJ 69, (1973)
Royal Commission, TL 1150/3, (1970)
Simco, A, Renhold Cropmarks, (1987)
Simco, A, Renhold Cropmarks, (1987)
Vertical colour AP, HSL UK 76 31 9/221-12, (1976)

Source: Historic England

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