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Historic England Research Records

Marden Henge

Hob Uid: 215179
Location :
Wiltshire
Wiltshire
Beechingstoke, Marden
Grid Ref : SU0908058200
Summary : Marden Henge is one of the largest Neolithic henges in the British Isles. The enclosure, comprising a bank with internal ditch encompasses an area of around 35 acres. There are no surviving stone settings. The earthworks are irregular, and consist of a series of straight lengths. These are broken by two causeways or entrances, to the north and east, although the latter has now been questioned, and a separate one proposed in the south east. In 1768, during levelling of part of the bank, antlers and a human skeleton were found. Excavations by Wainright in 1969 identified Neolithic remains including antler picks, flintwork, and the skeleton of a young female near the north entrance, as well as a possible circular timber structure. Excavation in 2010 by English Heritage through the southern henge enclosure ditch indicated it was 2 metres deep, and contained pottery, antler picks and flint tools. A thick deposit of gravel was recorded on top of the causeway to the south. Coring indicates that the gravel continues, probably part of a Neolithic gravel road way leading from the henge to the River Avon. There was once a large conical mound near the centre of the henge, known as the Hatfield Barrow (NMR 215176). There is a small henge inside the southern boundary of Marden Henge (NMR 215182). These two monuments were also partly excavated in 2010 by English Heritage. See the relevant monument records for further information.
More information : SU 09075818 Earthwork (NR). (1)

A Neolithic earthwork at Marden, consisting of an irregular enclosure of some 35 acres bounded on all sides but the south by a bank with internal ditch, was investigated in 1809 by Colt Hoare and William Cunnington. Hoare believed the enclosure to have extended originally across the River Avon, but reinvestigation of the site in 1969, including a resistivity survey, showed that the bank and ditch had always terminated at their southern ends at the flood-plain to the north of the Avon, which may have flowed much closer to the site in the Neolithic period than it does at present. Where best preserved, the bank is now about 1 metre high and 13 metres wide, and the 1969 excavations showed the ditch to have been 2 metres deep by about 13.5 metres wide.
Excavations at the NE entrance of the enclosure revealed the remains of a circular timber structure, 10.5 metres in diameter just inside the entrance, in the same position as a similar structure at Durrington Walls. (SU 14 SE 6) The bulk of finds came from the ditch terminals on either side of the entrance causeway, and included Late Neolithic pottery, stone tools and antler picks. The pottery was all Grooved ware style, closely comparable to that from Durrington, and the superficial similarity between Marden and Durrington Walls was considered to have been amply confirmed. Pre-enclosure occupation of the site was indicated by pottery of Early to Middle Neolithic type and a layer of flints. Two Mesolithic flint artifacts and a bronze disc brooch of Romano-British type were also found. (2-5)

'Hatfield Earthworks'(a) An oval-shaped earthwork is situated on low ground on the north bank of the River Avon. It measures, overall, 460.0m N-S by 350-0m transversely. Except where it lies partly within woodland on the west, the work has been much reduced and spread by the plough particularly on the east, where for a distance of 100.0m it has been completely destroyed.
The bank is from 20.0m in width and 2.0m in height on the east to 30.0m in width and 2.5m in height on the west. The ditch, on the inside, is from 15.0 to 25.0m in width and from 0.7m to 1.4m in depth. As stated (4) the work terminates to the south at the edge of former marshland or watercourse. The original entrance on the N. is not now evident.
Published 1:2500 AM survey revised. (6-7)

A concentric timber structure within a small single entrance henge which itself was enclosed by the major bank and ditch of the Class II monument. (3,8)

Additional reference. (9)

The tentative and doubtful classification of the Hatfield earthworks as a henge began with Grahame Clark in 1936, although O. G. S. Crawford had already compared the earthworks at Durrington with both Avebury and Marden in 1929, and Crawford included Marden on the Ordnance Survey Map of Neolithic Wessex, published in 1932. Marden had long attracted attention prior to this and Antiquarian researchers had already recognised possible comparisons for the enclosure. The Reverend Mayo compared it to Avebury in 1768 (see source 3) and a little later Richard Colt Hoare suggested that 'Wiltshire claims justly the pre-eminence over every other province; for it possesses an Abury, a Marden and a Stonehenge' (see source 2). The morphological characteristics, broadly similar to Durrington Walls, and the position of the Marden enclosure on the River Avon drew the attention of Geoffrey Wainwright in the 1960s and his excavations (source 3) confirmed the Neolithic date of the enclosure. However the similarities between these large sites, and the classification as a henge, rely on only broad morphological characteristics, a bank with internal ditch, and excavated evidence suggesting construction and initial use somewhere in the middle centuries of the third millennium BC (see source 12 for further discussion).

Parts of the earthworks described above have been recorded on aerial photographs and mapped at 1:2500 scale as part of the English Heritage Marden Henge multi-disciplinary project which also includes geophysical and earthwork survey.
The ditch and bank can be seen as earthworks on aerial photographs, except where they are hidden by the trees in Hatfield Copse on the south western edge of the site. Sub-surface remains of the ditch are suggested by parchmarks on 1976 aerial photographs and illustrate that the ditch was irregular and sinuous.

The interior of the enclosure has been ploughed at various times, including episodes of arable cultivation, in the central and south western parts, which are recorded on aerial photographs taken in 1946 (see source 5). These aerial photographs also record the henge before the row of houses, "Hatfields", was built over the SW of the site. The 1940s air photos, and the 1886 Os 1st record a curving field boundary which could perhaps have followed the continuation of the neolithic bank and ditch but it may simply be following a natural line to avoid the river and the line of the boundary continues in a similar curving fashion, to the east of the henge. Wainright's investigations suggested that the south-western parts of the enclosure were always incomplete and that the current southern extents of the bank and ditch represent the original terminals. However, there is no conclusive evidence and it is possible that the southern parts of the bank and ditch terminals may have been washed away by the river or flooding.

The remains of the large Hatfield Barrow (NMR 215176), and the small henge (NMR 215182) near Hatfields, are also recorded on aerial photographs and lidar. See the relevant monument records for further details.
(11-14)

Marden Henge is one of the largest Neolithic henge monuments in the British Isles, and lies between Stonehenge and Avebury. The earthworks are fairly irregular, and consist of a series of straight lengths rather than a continuous curve. These are broken by two causeways or entrances, one to the north and the other to the east, although the latter has now been questioned as an entrance, and a separate one proposed in the south east.
There was once a 'Southern Circle' against the interior of the southern boundary; now known to be another henge.
More recent work identified a central posthole under the area of the former Hatfield Barrow, and evidence for an episode of tree clearance. A section excavated through the henge enclosure ditch indicated the ditch was originally 2 metres deep, and a considerable amount f pottery, antler picks and flint tools were recovered from it. A thick deposit of gravel was recorded on top of the causeway to the south. It was within a slight cut, possible representing a former hollow way, similar to the roadway recorded at Durrington Walls. Coring indicates that the gravel continues and supports the theory that it is part of a Neolithic gravel road way leading from the henge to the River Avon.
The 'Southern Circle' was proved to be a henge, on the bank of which was a very well-preserved Neolithic building. It was constructed with a chalk surface, the central part of which was slightly sunken into the ground and had a large hearth surrounded by a gully (probably acting as a firegurard). On the floor were flint flakes, and outside was a midden with bone needles, awls and other flint tools. In another area just outside the building were the remains of feasting debris, including pig bones and pottery fragments, and two flint arrowheads. (15)


Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1961
Page(s) :
Figs. :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : The ancient history of Wiltshire
Source details :
Page(s) : 04-Jul
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 12
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Pitts, M. 2000. Hengeworld. Century, London.
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 13
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR OS/76183 42-43 21-AUG-1976
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 14
Source : Oblique aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR SU0958/1 NMR 974/348-9 28-JUL-1976
Page(s) :
Figs. :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 15
Source : Research News
Source details : 'Recent work at Marden Henge, Wiltshire', by Jim Leary and David Field
Page(s) : Oct-13
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 15 (AUTUMN 2010)
Source Number : 3
Source : The Antiquaries journal : journal of the Society of Antiquaries of London
Source details : Wainwright, G. The Excavation of a Late Neolithic Enclosure at Marden, Wiltshire
Page(s) : 177-239
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 51, 1971
Source Number : 4
Source : Current archaeology
Source details : (G Wainwright)
Page(s) : 152-55
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 2, 1969-70
Source Number : 5
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF/CPE/UK/1821/2157-8, 04-NOV-1946
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 6
Source : Externally held archive reference
Source details : DOE Notice Board at SU 0916 5842
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Source Number : 7
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 ASP 02-JUN-77
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Source Number : 8
Source : Introduction to British prehistory from the arrival of Homo sapiens to the Claudian invasion
Source details :
Page(s) : 155
Figs. :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 9
Source : Henge monuments and related sites of Great Britain : air photographic evidence and catalogue
Source details : Site 196
Page(s) : 296
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 175
Source Number : 11
Source : Antiquity
Source details : Crawford, O. G. S. 1929. Durrington Walls
Page(s) : 49-59
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 3

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Mesolithic
Display Date : Mesolithic Finds
Monument End Date : -4000
Monument Start Date : -10000
Monument Type : Findspot
Evidence : Find
Monument Period Name : Early Neolithic
Display Date : Early Neolithic finds
Monument End Date : -3300
Monument Start Date : -4000
Monument Type : Pit
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit, Find
Monument Period Name : Late Neolithic
Display Date : Late Neolithic structures
Monument End Date : -2200
Monument Start Date : -2900
Monument Type : Henge Enclosure, Timber Circle, Barrow, Burial
Evidence : Earthwork, Sub Surface Deposit, Find
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Roman finds
Monument End Date : 410
Monument Start Date : 43
Monument Type : Findspot
Evidence : Find

Components and Objects:
Period : Mesolithic
Component Monument Type : Findspot
Object Type : MICROLITH
Object Material : Flint
Period : Early Neolithic
Component Monument Type : Pit
Object Type : VESSEL, LITHIC IMPLEMENT
Object Material : Pottery, Flint
Period : Late Neolithic
Component Monument Type : Henge Enclosure, Timber Circle, Barrow, Burial
Object Type : VESSEL, TRANSVERSE ARROWHEAD, PICK
Object Material : Pottery, Flint, Antler
Period : Roman
Component Monument Type : Findspot
Object Type : BROOCH
Object Material : Bronze

Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : EH Property Number
External Cross Reference Number : 268
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Wiltshire)
External Cross Reference Number : SU05NE100
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : WI 338
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Wiltshire)
External Cross Reference Number : 100
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Wiltshire)
External Cross Reference Number : 100/050
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 26707
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SU 05 NE 3
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 219364
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 215176
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 215182
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1242861
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1002029
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1002033
Relationship type : General association

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : MARDEN EARTHWORK
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1807-01-01
End Date : 1810-12-31
Associated Activities : MARDEN EARTHWORK
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1969-01-01
End Date : 1969-12-31
Associated Activities : FIELD OBSERVATION ON SU 05 NE 3
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1977-06-02
End Date : 1977-06-02
Associated Activities : MARDEN HENGE, HATFIELD FARM
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 2008-01-01
End Date : 2008-12-31
Associated Activities : ENGLISH HERITAGE: MARDEN ENVIRONS VALE OF PEWSEY NMP
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 2008-06-01
End Date : 2009-10-01
Associated Activities : MARDEN HENGE, HATFIELD FARM
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 2011-01-01
End Date : 2012-12-31
Associated Activities : LAND AT MARDEN
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 2012-01-01
End Date : 2013-12-31
Associated Activities : MARDEN HENGE, HATFIELD FARM
Activity type : ENVIRONMENTAL SAMPLING
Start Date : 2018-01-01
End Date : 2018-12-31