Sunday, July 27, 2008

A review from the Hendon & District Archaeological Society of their visit to Crickley in 1976

The August Outing – To Cotswold Country
By Vincent de Paul Foster.

Crickley Hill, Gloucestershire, on the edge of the Cotswolds, is a mere 2-hour coach ride from Hendon. It was our first port of call on the August outing. The hillfort has truly magnificent views across the Vale of the Severn. Those old hillfort builders certainly knew how to pick a site.
We were met at the entrance of the outer ramparts by Philip Dixon, Lecturer in Medieval Archaeology at Nottingham and Director of the Crickley Hill excavations. After explaining the layout of the fort, he told us its history. The site was occupied during both Neolithic and Bronze Ages, and is in area of approximately 3.6 hectares, enclosed by a ramparts rising to 2.7 m at the east end, with a ditch some 2.4 m deep. The other sides are so steep that additional defences there were unnecessary.

The earliest defences were constructed in the 6th/5th centuries BC of timber lacing. This method, also usable with stone revetting, obtains maximum strength by securing horizontal cross timbers through the body of the rampart, with connecting vertical posts at front and rear. This rampart was destroyed by fire. The northern entrance, in the last phase of construction, consisted of stone bastions with an enormous curving defensive hornwork.

Inside the fort Iron Age longhouses, unique to this country, have been excavated. The more common roundhouses have also been found. There are also 2 sets of Neolithic ditches; the earlier is of the usual causewayed camp type, with interruptions. The later is continuous and deeper than usual with a bank behind it. This season's 5-week dig has about 100 volunteers, mostly very youthful. We ate our lunch at the outer ramparts, and were startled to watch, from a distance, the mad rush of diggers to their lunch, at the nearby Civil Defence camp, as soon as klaxon sounded. Philip Dixon had warned us of his daily stampede, but I thought he was joking. British Olympic Selection Committee, 1980, please note -- this is a hot-bed of potential 3 1/2 minute milers.

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