Ancient Monuments

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Springhall Lane causewayed enclosure

A Scheduled Monument in Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.8048 / 51°48'17"N

Longitude: 0.1499 / 0°8'59"E

OS Eastings: 548325.978463

OS Northings: 213983.010354

OS Grid: TL483139

Mapcode National: GBR LD5.W5B

Mapcode Global: VHHM1.KW3T

Entry Name: Springhall Lane causewayed enclosure

Scheduled Date: 16 May 1974

Last Amended: 8 December 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016411

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29391

County: Hertfordshire

Civil Parish: Sawbridgeworth

Built-Up Area: Sawbridgeworth

Traditional County: Hertfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hertfordshire

Church of England Parish: Sawbridgeworth

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans

Details

The monument includes a Neolithic causewayed enclosure located to either side
of Springhall Lane to the south of Sawbridgeworth. It occupies the slope of a
slight spur which faces south into the broad valley of the River Stort and
over the flood meadows which flank the Stort Navigation.
Although no earthworks can be seen on the ground, part of the enclosure's
boundary of interrupted ditches (which typify this class of monument) was
revealed by cropmarks in the field to the east of the Springhall Lane footpath
in 1962. Aerial photographs taken at this time clearly show three parallel
lines of segmented ditches, about 10m apart, descending the slope of the spur
in a broad curve, starting near the junction of Springhall Lane (now at the
southern corner of a modern housing estate) and continuing towards the south
eastern corner of the field, altogether a distance of approximately 160m. The
ditches in each line measure some 2m in width and are divided into segments
which average 20m in length. The causeways which separate the ditch segments
vary between 2m and 3m across and, unusually for this class of monument, their
positions are closely matched in each circuit. Some of the ditches have slight
inturned terminals which are thought to indicate formalised entrances to the
enclosure.
The extent of the enclosure to the west of Springhall Lane is uncertain.
However, as this class of monument invariably takes the form of an ovoid or
circular enclosure, it is estimated from the curvature of the visible section
to extend some 60m-70m west of the lane before curving southwards towards the
flood plain. The flood meadow itself has proven unreceptive to aerial
photography, although it is possible that the enclosure lacked a formalised
southern boundary and was deliberately sited to utilise the water course or
marshes on one side for either practical or ritual purposes. The southern
extent of the enclosure is therefore difficult to define, although the
waterlogged conditions along this southern side will provide exceptional
conditions for the preservation of features and artefacts related to the
period of occupation. In order to include a sample of the area in which such
remains can reasonably be expected to survive, the scheduling includes a
margin along this side extending approximately 20m to the south of the pasture
boundary at the foot of the slope.
All fences, fenceposts, styles and gates are excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

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.

Although not visible on the ground, the Springhall Lane causewayed enclosure
exhibits a wide variety of soil conditions in which buried features will
survive and contain highly significant evidence related to the construction of
the monument, its function and the duration of its use. The surrounding
ditches, which have been identified from cropmarks over part of the circuit,
retain evidence for the entrance ways and will contain artefacts reflecting
the date and duration of occupation. Further information from buried features
within the enclosure will provide insights into the nature of the community
which built and used the monument. The semi-waterlogged area to the south is
particularly important as it provides conditions suitable for the preservation
of organic materials, including environmental evidence which will illustrate
the appearance of the landscape in which the monument was set.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Megaw, JVS, Simpson, DDA, Introduction to British Prehistory, (1981), 80-85
Bradley, R, 'Current Archaeology' in Excavations at Clava, , Vol. 148, (1996), 136-142
Other
MPP Monument Class Description, Darvill, T, Causewayed Enclosures, (1988)
oblique monochrome, CUCAP, AGA 76, (1962)

Source: Historic England

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