HeritageGateway - Home
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > Historic England research records Result
Historic England research recordsPrintable version | About Historic England research records

Historic England Research Records

Durrington Walls

Hob Uid: 219364
Location :
Wiltshire
Durrington
Grid Ref : SU1501043750
Summary : Durrington Walls, a Later Neolithic henge enclosure of roughly oval shape measuring circa 490 metres northwest-southeast and 470 metres northeast-southwest, defined by a ditch with external bank. The bank and ditch enclose a small dry valley which leads down to the River Avon (which lies to the south east). There are two opposed entrances, one on the western side, the other on the east. Ploughing has levelled much of the circuit, and the main visible earthworks are massive lynchets which broadly follow the line of the enclosure bank and ditch. Excavations occurred on a small scale in 1917 and in the early 1950s. In 1966-8, re-routing of the A345 through the enclosure led to the excavation of a north-south transect across the eastern half of the enclosure. As well as confirming the broadly later Neolithic date of the earthwork and a strong association with Grooved Ware, evidence for considerable earlier, 4th millennium BC activity was encountered as well as some later, Early Bronze Age (Beaker) and Iron Age activity. The principal features associated with the henge itself were two timber structures: a Southern Circle, situated close to the eastern entrance and which comprised a series of concentric circles of timber posts, associated with an artefact-strewn 'platform' and a midden; and a less-well preserved Northern Circle, again represented by concentric arrangements of post holes, but this time approached by parallel rows of timber posts and "screened" by a facade or fenceline of posts. Although the excavator, Wainwright, has interpreted these circles as roofed buildings, they are generally interpreted as freestanding concentric arrangements of upright timbers. Geophysical survey in the interior of Durrington Walls to the west of the road has revealed evidence for further structures, some of them also circular.
More information : (SU 15014375) Durrington Walls (NR). (1)

A Class II henge, the largest in Britain, measuring 1720 ft from N-S, and 1470 ft from E-W. It is unusual in that it encloses a combe. First noted by Hoare in 1812, no account was written until 1928 and the first plan, based on air photos, was produced by Crawford in 1929.
The NE sector is the best preserved, with a wide bank and ditch though both are much smoothed down by ploughing. The entrances are in the E and W. The E entrance has clubbed terminal banks; the W entrance is marked by a 10 ft lynchet. A pipe trench across the earthwork in 1950-51 and small excavations in 1952 located E.I.A. pits and showed the bank in the NE to be 90ft wide at the base with a 34ft wide berm.
In advance of re-alignment of the A 325 excavations were undertaken in 1966 and 1967 for the MPBW.
The 1966 excavations were largely confined to a section across the bank and ditch in the N and an area outside the southern perimeter of the henge. The bank was found to have been reduced to a 49ft wide base and the berm widened to 115ft as a result of ploughing. Although the original berm was probably of variable width it was unlikely to have been less than 60-70ft. The ditch, flat bottomed, was 41ft wide at the top and 18ft deep. Very little pottery was found but rusticated Beaker, Ebbesfleet sherds, B.A. and I.A. material were recovered from silts, and antler picks from the bottom of the ditch.
200ft S of the henge a sub-rectangular timber structure 54ft x 30ft produced Grooved Ware and domestic rubbish in the post-holes. The structure may well have been purely domestic and not of a ritualistic nature.
In 1967 a wide area was stripped of top-soil from N-S across the henge. In the Southern sector the bank was found to have had a base 100ft wide & a berm 100ft. wide. The ditch terminal and causewayed entrance were excavated. The ditch was 59ft wide, 20ft deep, and had a flat bottom 22 ft wide. Much Grooved Ware was recovered from the primary silt and 57 antler picks were found on the bottom of the ditch.
90ft NW of the causeway were the post-holes of a complex circular timber structure of Woodhenge type. This was of three periods: four roughly concentric circles in the first phase; five circles in the second phase and a single enclosing circle, 127ft. across, in the last phase. All were of late Neolithic period and were cut across in the southern sector by a late I.A. palisade trench.
A Neolithic hut floor, surrounded by stake-holes, was found a little to the NE of the timber circles. The pottery from this hut contained a higher proportion of beaker ware than that recovered from the henge.
A second henge was located in the northern crest of the combe, the first phase consisting of a double timber circle and an avenue, the second phase a double circle and a facade.
Durrington Walls is seen as a ceremonial enclosure of the late Neolithic and Beaker period. c.2000 BC. (2-3)

The southern part of Durrington Walls enclosure has been ploughed out although the line of the bank, much spread, can be traced on air photographs. Around the west and north a lynchet from 2.0m to 4.0m high represents the inner face of the bank. It has however been formed partly by agricultural activity and overlies the NW entrance at SU 14854384. The best preserved part of the perimeter bank and inner ditch is that at the NE from SU 15174388 to the clubbed entrance terminal at SU 15214364. In this section the ditch averaged 0.5m deep, and the bank 2.0m high on the inner face and 1.0m high on the outer face.
OS 1:2500 survey revised. (4)

The excavations carried out during the 1950s and 1960s have revealed that the earliest occupation predated the construction of the henge, and has been C14 dated to the middle of the third millennium bc and the construction of the enclosure bank and ditch dating to the second millennium bc. Two large timber structures, each with several phases of construction were excavated. The larger of the two was situated within the southeast entrance, the other was situated to the north and approached by an avenue. A geophysical survey and air photographs show traces of other timber structures, some circular, within the interior. (5-6)

Recent interpretations of the site have been discussed by Barrett. (7)

Additional references. (8-16)

The henge monument is visible as a very slight earthwork and as a cropmark on aerial photographs, and has been mapped by both RCHME's Salisbury Plain Training Area NMP and EH's Stonehenge WHS Mapping Project, although the photographic evidence does not provide detailed information. (17-18)

The Stonehenge Riverside Project carried out excavations near the Southern Circle and found the remains of 9 small houses surrounded by layers of animal bone and pottery. These are thought to be part of a much larger settlement surrounding the Southern CIrcle, perhaps as many as 1000 houses originally. If so, this was the largest known Neolithic village in northern Europe. (19-20)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" Prov.
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : The Antiquaries journal : journal of the Society of Antiquaries of London
Source details : (G J Wainwright).
Page(s) : 166-183
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 47, 1967
Source Number : 11
Source : The Antiquaries journal : journal of the Society of Antiquaries of London
Source details : Stone, JFS et al. Durrington Walls: recent excavations at a ceremonial site of the early 2nd millennium.
Page(s) : 155-77
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 34, 1954
Source Number : 12
Source : Neolithic studies : a review of some current research
Source details : Richards, C & J Thomas. Ritual Activity and Structured Deposition in Later Neolithic Wessex.
Page(s) : 189-218
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 133
Source Number : 13
Source : The henge monuments : ceremony and society in prehistoric Britain
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 14
Source : Rethinking the neolithic
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 15
Source : Archaeological assessment of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site and its surrounding landscape
Source details : Record number 1077 (plus 1002, 1074 to 1079, 1090, 1094, 1100, 1104)
Page(s) : 362
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 16
Source : Stonehenge and its environs: monuments and land use
Source details :
Page(s) : 15-18
Figs. : 10
Plates : 13
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 17
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR SU 1543/162 (CCC 8531) 11-JUL-1921
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 18
Source : Oblique aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR SU 1543/150/403-4 (881/403-4) 27-JUL-1975
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 19
Source : If stones could speak: unlocking the secrets of Stonehenge
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 20
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : Univeristy of Sheffield 2011. 'Stonehenge Riverside Project' <> [Accessed 18-FEB-2011]
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
Source : Antiquity
Source details :
Page(s) : 20-Jun
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 42, 1968
Source Number :
Source : RCHME: "Stonehenge and its Environs"
Source details :
Page(s) : 16
Figs. : 10
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number :
Source : SU 14 SE 118 (Durrington Walls) (1969)
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number :
Source : RCHME: "Stonehenge and its Environs", Wiltshire
Source details :
Page(s) : 15
Figs. : 9
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 4
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 NVQ 07-JUL-69
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 5
Source : Durrington Walls : excavations 1966-1968
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : no.29
Source Number : 6
Source : Henge monuments and related sites of Great Britain : air photographic evidence and catalogue
Source details :
Page(s) : 289-92
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 175
Source Number : 7
Source : Fragments from antquity : an archaeology of social life in Britain, 2900-1200 BC
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 8
Source : The ancient history of Wiltshire
Source details :
Page(s) : 169
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 9
Source : The Wiltshire archaeological and natural history magazine
Source details : Farrer, P. Durrington Walls, of Long Walls.
Page(s) : 95-103
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 40, 1918
Source Number : 10
Source : Antiquity
Source details : Crawford, OGS. Durrington Walls.
Page(s) : 49-59
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 3, 1929

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Neolithic
Display Date : Neolithic
Monument End Date : -2200
Monument Start Date : -4000
Monument Type : Village, House
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Early Neolithic
Display Date : Early Neolithic
Monument End Date : -3300
Monument Start Date : -4000
Monument Type : Artefact Scatter, Findspot
Evidence : Find
Monument Period Name : Late Neolithic
Display Date : Late Neolithic
Monument End Date : -2200
Monument Start Date : -2900
Monument Type : Henge Enclosure, Timber Circle, Midden
Evidence : Earthwork, Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Early Bronze Age
Display Date : Early Bronze Age
Monument End Date : -1600
Monument Start Date : -2600
Monument Type : Henge Enclosure, Timber Circle
Evidence : Earthwork, Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Iron Age
Display Date : Iron Age
Monument End Date : 43
Monument Start Date : -800
Monument Type : Palisade, Pit
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Later Prehistoric
Display Date : Later Prehistoric
Monument End Date : 43
Monument Start Date : -4000
Monument Type : Lynchet
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date :
Monument End Date : 410
Monument Start Date : 43
Monument Type : Findspot, Lynchet
Evidence : Find, Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Early Medieval, Medieval
Display Date :
Monument End Date :
Monument Start Date :
Monument Type : Lynchet
Evidence : Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Period : Early Neolithic
Component Monument Type : Artefact Scatter, Findspot
Object Type : VESSEL, POLISHED AXEHEAD, LEAF ARROWHEAD, ANIMAL REMAINS
Object Material : Pottery, Flint
Period : Late Neolithic
Component Monument Type : Henge Enclosure, Timber Circle, Midden
Object Type : VESSEL, AXEHEAD, TRANSVERSE ARROWHEAD, PICK, PIN, AWL, HUMAN REMAINS, ANIMAL REMAINS
Object Material : Pottery, Flint, Antler, Bone
Period : Early Bronze Age
Component Monument Type : Henge Enclosure, Timber Circle
Object Type : VESSEL, BARBED AND TANGED ARROWHEAD, HUMAN REMAINS, ANIMAL REMAINS
Object Material : Pottery, Flint
Period : Iron Age
Component Monument Type : Palisade, Pit
Object Type : VESSEL
Object Material : Pottery
Period : Roman
Component Monument Type : Findspot, Lynchet
Object Type : VESSEL
Object Material : Pottery

Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Wiltshire)
External Cross Reference Number : 100/SU14SW552
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : WI 237
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Wiltshire)
External Cross Reference Number : 100/110/200
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Wiltshire)
External Cross Reference Number : 100/110/162/2
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Wiltshire)
External Cross Reference Number : 100/SU14SW203
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 10365
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Wiltshire)
External Cross Reference Number : SU14SE100
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SU 14 SE 118
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 219050
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 915188
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 915407
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 962145
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 219053
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 219228
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1122332
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 215179
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1541041
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1122332
Relationship type :
Associated Monuments : 1363592
Relationship type :

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, DURRINGTON WALLS
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1915-01-01
End Date : 1915-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, DURRINGTON WALLS
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1950-01-01
End Date : 1952-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, DURRINGTON WALLS
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1966-01-01
End Date : 1968-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, DURRINGTON WALLS
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1967-01-01
End Date : 1967-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SU 14 SE 118
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1969-07-07
End Date : 1969-07-07
Associated Activities : Primary, DURRINGTON WALLS
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1970-01-01
End Date : 1970-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, DURRINGTON WALLS
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1989-01-01
End Date : 1989-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, RCHME: STONEHENGE VISITOR CENTRE PROJECT
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 1991-02-01
End Date : 1991-05-09
Associated Activities : Primary, RCHME: SALISBURY PLAIN TRAINING AREA NMP
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 1994-12-01
End Date : 1995-08-01
Associated Activities : Primary, DURRINGTON WALLS
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1996-01-01
End Date : 1996-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, ENGLISH HERITAGE: STONEHENGE WHS MAPPING PROJECT NMP
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 2001-02-01
End Date : 2001-07-01
Associated Activities : Primary, DURRINGTON WALLS
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2003-01-01
End Date : 2003-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, DURRINGTON WALLS
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 2003-01-01
End Date : 2004-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, STONEHENGE RIVERSIDE PROJECT
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 2003-01-01
End Date : 2009-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, DURRINGTON WALLS, RIVER AVON
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 2005-01-01
End Date : 2005-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, "A LOOK IN THE REAR VIEW MIRROR"
Activity type : THEMATIC SURVEY
Start Date : 2009-01-01
End Date : 2011-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, ENGLISH HERITAGE: STONEHENGE VISITOR CENTRE
Activity type : FIELD SURVEY
Start Date : 2011-01-01
End Date : 2011-12-31