stripped, however, the results are inconclusive because of the complexity of the occupation, for a large number of the many hundreds of post holes belong to the Iron Age, and it has so far proved feasible to distinguish only broadly between the Iron Age and the Neolithic post holes, but not between those of the two possible Neolithic phases. Some, at any rate, of the post holes contain Neolithic pottery and flint, and the impression remains that, unlike other hill tops which appear to have been occupied only spasmodically, the interior of Neolithic Crickley may indeed have been permanently occupied.
Offham Whereas thoughts of defence were raised at Hambledon and Crickley, Peter Drewett, who has been excavating another causewayed enclosure at Offham Hill in Sussex, offered a new idea, that they could have been used as mortuary enclosures. Offham Hill, just outside Lewes, on a prominent scarp overlooking the River Ouse that breaks through the Downs at Lewes, is the smallest of the five known Sussex causewayed camps, and its discovery was only recorded in 1974 by Eric Holden. Part had already been removed by an old chalk quarry, and as the remainder is under plough, it was totally excavated by Peter Drewett and the Sussex Archaeological Field Unit of the London Institute of Archaeology.
It lies on the side of a steep hillslope, and consists of a double row of interrupted ditches, and may originally have been a D shaped enclosure with the open side facing downhill. When the whole area was stripped the interior proved disappointing, for though many features were encountered, only two were possibly Neolithic. Clearly, as on so many other chalk sites, considerable erosion had taken place, and the deepest ditches were only 80 cm deep. Only 172 sherds of Neolithic pottery were found in all, 20 from the inner ditch, the remainder from the outer. In one place a hole had
Crickley Hill: one of the ditch ends.
been dug, containing the articulated skeleton of a young adult, while scattered human bones were found throughout the ditches.
Already, however, the snails that were recovered have provided valuable environmental evidence that the site had originally been constructed in a wooded environment and that after it had been abandoned it was soon covered again by woods. It is unlikely, therefore, that it could have been a meeting place used over a long period, and Mr. Drewett pointed to the number of casually scattered human bones and suggested that it could have been a mortuary enclosure where bodies were exposed, a custom that is well known in preliterate societies.
These three excavations all took place along the classic chalk and limestone downlands of southern England. The other two main excavations took place outside the classic area, in Essex and Northamptonshire. In Essex John Hedges, the County Archaeologist, investigated the causewayed camp at Orsett near
Grays, only two miles away from the well known Anglo-Saxon site at Mucking. The site at Orsett has only recently been discovered by aerial photography and is at present the only known example of a causewayed camp in Essex. However the site is being ploughed and subsoiled and thus in 1975 preliminary excavations took place to determine whether it was indeed a Neolithic causewayed camp and to see how far plough damage was harming it.
The camp consists of two outer rings and an inner one, and two modest areas were opened up, one on the brow of the hill to cover the outer rings, and the second on the lower ground to cover the inner ring. The first large area, area B, revealed the position of the outer rings, which proved to be the typical flat bottomed causewayed camp ditches. Just inside the inner ditch, however, there was a narrow slot for a timber palisade, which could be dimly seen on the air photographs. This continuous palisade slot was reminiscent of that excavated in the henge monument at Mount Pleasant in Dorset, and the gaps in it corresponded to the gaps in the main ditches. A number of post holes could have formed an
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