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Causewayed enclosure and associated features on the south bank of the River Thames, immediately west of Rushey Weir

A Scheduled Monument in Bampton, Oxfordshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.6984 / 51°41'54"N

Longitude: -1.5368 / 1°32'12"W

OS Eastings: 432107.498642

OS Northings: 200058.302171

OS Grid: SP321000

Mapcode National: GBR 6WP.G98

Mapcode Global: VHC0F.9KXW

Entry Name: Causewayed enclosure and associated features on the south bank of the River Thames, immediately west of Rushey Weir

Scheduled Date: 26 November 2004

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021368

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35543

County: Oxfordshire

Civil Parish: Bampton

Traditional County: Berkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Oxfordshire

Church of England Parish: Gainfield

Church of England Diocese: Oxford

Details

The monument includes the buried remains of a Neolithic causewayed enclosure,
as well as several features representative of other periods: these include
pits, ring ditches and a ditched trackway, all of which are clearly visible
from the air as crop marks. The site lies immediately south of the River
Thames, by Rushey Weir and Lock. The enclosure, which can be seen to measure
approximately 225m across at its widest point, forms a D-shape or rough
semi-circle against the river bank. It consists of segments of ditch about 4m
wide, varying in length between 7m and 26m and separated by causeways 1m to
7m wide. The north west end of the enclosure is hidden beneath rough pasture,
and its extent here can only be surmised. A section of the boundary ditches
to the south and about half the interior are also partially concealed by a
large amorphous crop mark. The area of the interior beyond this is dotted
with pits which may be contemporary with the enclosure or possibly natural
features.
This crop mark also masks a section of two small sub-circular single ditched
features, one just outside the enclosure to the south, the other within the
eastern sector of the interior. Both measure between 15m and 20m in diameter;
but the larger circle, attached to the southern edge of the enclosure, has
the wider ditch, measuring about 3m to 4m across. Immediately to the west of
this circle two ditched trackways can be seen intersecting at right angles,
one taking a north-south route, the other heading east-west. This tracked
junction is included in the scheduling. The southerly route can be seen
crossing the next field, and its ditches appear again as a cropmark three
fields, or about 400m, to the south; the form of these tracks suggests a
Roman date.
A further linear feature which has the appearance of a bank and ditch cuts
across the north east end of the enclosure, running parallel with the river
bank before taking a sharp turn south: this appears to be the continuation of
a drain which survives as a slight bank in the pasture field to the west.
This causewayed enclosure is one of six known in Oxfordshire, only one of
which, at Abingdon, has been extensively excavated. These are part of a
larger group of possibly twelve associated with the Upper Thames and its
tributaries. Its closest neighbour is north of the river at Aston, and is
also scheduled (SM28185); their proximity to each other either side of what
may have been a major boundary suggests that they could have served separate
tribal communities.
Closely associated with the causewayed enclosure is another smaller,
sub-rectangular feature identified with a class of monuments known as long
mortuary enclosures. This lies about 70m south east of the causewayed
enclosure and can be seen as a cropmark in the neighbouring field. No
apparent physical features link them, and the long mortuary enclosure is the
subject of a separate scheduling. However, although other uses have also been
suggested for causewayed enclosures, human remains commonly found in their
ditches along with quantities of other organic matter, strongly suggest that
they were also used for rituals and celebrations associated with the disposal
of the dead. It may be that these two very different forms of enclosure
played a complementary role, or that one is later than the other, and took on
its functions.

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 0.8ha to 28ha) 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 the banks of the causewayed enclosure immediately west of Rushey
Weir have been levelled by ploughing, the ditches survive well. The location
of the monument on low lying land beside the River Thames suggests that they
may contain well preserved waterlogged organic deposits, material that will
provide evidence of the nature of the surrounding landscape, and of the uses
made of the enclosure during its lifetime. The enclosure has additional
significance because of its association with a long mortuary enclosure and
barrow, and because it is one of a group of causewayed enclosures associated
with the Upper Thames and its tributaries.

Source: Historic England

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