Briar Hill: these two sections, axial (above) and transverse (below) reveal four separate phases. 1. Original cut. 2. The first recut is visible at the eastern and northern ends. The fill contained two sherds of plain neolithic pottery. 3. The second recut at the western end was short and very deep, from the top of the fill of phase 2. 4. Pit dug into the fill of the second recut at the western end including much burnt material, and contained sherds of late neolithic impressed pottery, and flints of late neolithic type.
The most intensive current excavation of a causewayed camp, however, is that at Briar Hill, close by the Iron Age hill fort of Hunsbury just outside Northampton. Here Dr. Helen Bamford of the Northampton Development Corporation has been excavating for between 8-9 months a year for just over two years. Approximately two-thirds of the enclosure has been stripped by machine and just under one-third has so far been examined in detail. The site is extremely difficult to dig, for the subsoil is a periglacial deposit, for in the Ice Ages it lay on the perimeter of the ice sheet, and the local beds of ironstone, sandstone and estuarine clays have been churned up and distorted by alternate freezing and thawing, and solifluxion. It is thus extremely difficult to define or even identify man-made disturbances.
The initial magnetometer survey (see CA49) proved to be exceptionally accurate and useful, but the archaeology is complicated by the presence of considerable Iron Age and Saxon occupation: four Saxon grubenhauser have so far been identified and a number of Iron Age features, so that no feature in the interior can at present be definitely assigned to the Neolithic, though there are some structures that could be of that period.
Nevertheless some of the ditch sections have proved informative. In plan Briar Hill is very like Orsett, consisting of a double outer set of ditches and a rather odd inner ring, which links up with the innermost of the outer pair in a sort of spiral shape. About a third of the main ditch circuits have been examined and extensively sampled by excavation, mostly by the quadrant method, which provides not only cross sections, but also longitudinal sections along the ditches, and it is these longitudinal sections which have been the more revealing, showing that most ditches had been recut, in one place up to four times. The sections reveal that the two outer ditches are very similar, but work has only just begun on the spiral, revealing that it is clearly different to the outer ditches, though it is not yet possible to say which is the earlier.
An interesting question concerning Briar Hill is the apparent cultural poverty of the site. Windmill Hill has encouraged us in the belief that causewayed camps are exceptionally rich in all kinds of finds, both pottery and stone. By comparison Briar Hill is distinctly poor. The ditch fills have produced some 50 finds of pottery, excluding the late Neolithic and Beaker sherds from the top fills, and these 50 finds include only a dozen or so
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