Enclosure revealed by fire on the North York Moors A
fire that destroyed vegetation across a 62-acre (25-ha) stretch of the North York Moors in October 2009 has revealed in crisp detail a prehistoric (possibly Neolithic) monument that had previously been hidden by heather. The monument, which was not harmed by the fire, was spotted when English Heritage flew two sorties over the moorland near Goathland. The interior of the sub-rectangular stone-walled enclosure, measuring some 485ft by 246ft is dotted with at least 20 stone cairns of various sizes.
David MacLeod, a Senior Investigator with the English Heritage aerial survey team, said: ‘Establishing what the monument was used for is a tricky question. The walls are low now, but they could have been much higher, so possibly it had an agricultural purpose, acting as a pen to keep cattle or sheep. We cannot rule out a ritual significance – perhaps we are looking at a graveyard. Whatever its purpose, the fire has given us this rare chance to
access the entire site and perhaps get closer to understanding what went on here.’
Although the existence of the monument was already known, the dense heather covering the moorland has prevented detailed study until now. Graham Lee, Senior Archaeological Conservation Officer with the North York Moors National Park, said that dating the site was fraught with difficulty; but evidence of later Bronze Age activity suggested a Neolithic origin, as did the monument’s resemblance to another site first recorded in 2003, after another moorland fire on Fylingdales Moor (CA 226). Wessex Archaeology has recently completed a detailed ground survey and a full report is due later this year.
A Roman villa in Wales
A Roman villa has been found where, in theory, it should not be: in mid-Wales. The discovery, made by archaeologists working for the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments ofWales (RCAHMW), suggests that Roman lifestyles and building types spread deeper into Wales than previously thought. RCAHMWArchaeologist Dr Toby Driver said it was a significant discovery, because Roman villas are very rare in south-west Wales and unknown in the Ceredigion area, where the villa has been found on what is now the Trawsgoed estate near Aberystwyth.
‘Mid andWestWales was a “military zone” for much of the Roman occupation,’Toby said, ‘so what a villa was doing out here is still a mystery. It lies well away from the main block of known left This RCAHMW aerial photo from 2006 clearly shows the crop-marks that revealed the full extent of the Roman villa at Trawsgoed.
current archaeology | www.archaeology.co.uk
March 2010 |