Offham Hill, Sussex, showing the two lines of ditches.
CAUSEWAYED CAMPS Great excavations dominate their field for 10 years or more. Thus the report on the excavations at Windmill Hill, published in 1965 by Isobel Smith, has ever since dominated discussions of causewayed camps, and archaeologists have been content to echo her suggestion that the enclosure may have "served as a centre or rallying point for the population of a fairly wide area". In the past couple of years, however, no less than six causewayed camps have been excavated, and at a symposium on Saturday 22 January the Prehistoric Society heard accounts of five of them. As Dr. Smith herself pointed out afterwards, the main result was to show how very different they all are both from each other and from Windmill Hill, and how dangerous it is to generalise from Windmill Hill alone, which, from the richness of its finds and from many other features, was clearly an exceptional site.
The excavation that conforms best to the conventional pattern of causewayed camps is that by Roger Mercer on Hambledon Hill in
Dorset, already discussed briefly in CA 48. Three seasons of excavation have now taken place. Approximately a third of the total area threatened has now been excavated, and a clear picture is emerging of the filling of the main causewayed ditches. These seem not to have been back-filled immediately, as the Windmill Hill results suggested, but instead for most part they silted naturally. There were however two distinct deposits laid down in them, one at the bottom, named the 'sausage', and one at the top, named the 'slot'.
Along the bottom of some of the flat bottomed segments there was a thin line of extraneous organic material accompanied by bones, flint, pottery, that appeared to have been deliberately placed, forming elongated 'sausages'. The impression was that it must originally have been placed in bags. At intervals the sausages were accompanied by skulls: Mr. Mercer called them 'human cranial fragments', because they were rarely complete and in most cases they lacked the lower jawbone, indicating that they had been put in as skulls. Other human bones were not so common and consisted mostly of long bones and finger bones.
Twenty-two skulls in all or fragments thereof have now been discovered in this primary deposit. In addition there were two infant burials covered by a layer of stones; one was furnished with a three bead necklace and the other was accompanied by two fragments of carved chalk.
The ditches then silted naturally as the banks collapsed into them. When they had silted to a shallow depression—perhaps a century later — a narrow slot was dug along the top, interrupted at the same causeways as the underlying ditches. These were then filled in a seemingly identical manner to that the 'sausages' underneath; in many instances, there were three or four phases of re-cutting. In some places there was a third feature, for the slots were covered by a layer of flint nodules which in many places had already been ploughed away. However a few fragments of beaker and other late Neolithic pottery indicated that this cairn was considerably later than the slots, and appeared possibly to represent an attempt to cover up the earlier activity.
About a third of the ploughed area of the interior has been exca-