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Orsett: view through the entrances in area B.


Photo: John Hedges entrance structure, but the excavation did not reveal whether the palisade was contemporary with the ditches. A radiocarbon determination of 2791 ± 113 b.c. came from the central post holes of the palisade entrance.

The other main area, area C, succeeded in locating the inner ditch, which again proved to be a typical Neolithic type, though at 2 metres deep rather deeper than the outer circle. Early Neolithic pottery was found at the bottom of the ditch and also some charcoal from which a date of 2635 — 82 b.c. has been obtained. However the main result of this excavation was in elucidating the air photograph and in eliminating many of the features from the Neolithic picture. Thus the two ring ditches proved to be Saxon inhumation timber mausolea (no mound covered burials), while the sub-rectangular enclosure was Early Iron Age in date. There are also a number of very large Iron Age pits and, as at Hambledon, there also appear to have been considerable late Neolithic and Beaker activity on the site, with pottery being found both in the post holes and in the upper levels of the ditches. The early Neolithic pottery was mainly in the Mildenhall tradition, though the site appears to lie on the edges of the Mildenhall, Ebbsfleet and Abingdon style zones.

In conclusion Mr. Hedges pointed out that judging by the air photographs the ditches at Orsett and many other sites do not appear to make a complete circuit. As David R. Wilson, the Cambridge air photographer, pointed out, it is sometimes dangerous to use negative evidence from air photographs. However, Mr. Hedges believes that a sufficient number of causewayed camps show ditches petering out for no good reason to make it feasible to wonder whether some of these did have an open side. The only place where an open sided Neolithic enclosure has been proved is the strange C shaped enclosure excavated by Dr. Wainwright at Broome Heath in Norfolk, and though this is of a later date it could provide a parallel.

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