Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Fourth Report 1972, part III: The Interior of the Hillfort 1972

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Thank you as ever to PWD for permission to post these abstracts from his 1972 Fourth Report. I'm afraid the Albergo Parker is not equipped with an A3 scanner so each A4 page has to be scanned and posted separately:

"An area 80 m long and up to 40 m broad was stripped behind the entrance passage (cuttings BI - BXII).  Stratigraphy in this area was slight, in many places less than 5 cm between turf and bedrock, but a number of the 180 postholes uncovered here can be placed in relative sequence: near the centre of the excavated area postholes 472 cut into and was later than a large posthole; further southwards posthole 529 - 534 were cut into a layer of small packed stones which sealed the tops of posthole's 544 - 547 and 516.  Postholes 529 - 534 formed part of an almost perfect post circle, whose postholes must be seen from their regularity as contemporary; it does not therefore follow that the postholes stratified earlier in the sequences were all of the same date, but this conclusion is indicated by the consistency of their layout: almost all formed pairs from 2 1/2 metres to 3.3 m apart, with similar spacing between the pairs.  

The structures represented by both these groups of postholes may be tied in with the phasing of the rampart.  Within the inturned entrance of the timber-laced rampart (Period 2) the excavations in 1970 exposed a hollow way, produced by traffic wear.  This hollowing continued on the axis of the passage to run between the alignments produced by the pairs of (earlier) post holes.  During Period 3b a cobbled road was laid against the entrance bastions and could be followed running into the interior of the hillfort.  These cobbles overlay the structures identified in figure 5 as "House 2" and "House 6", but curved to avoid the post circle, which must therefore have been in existence in Period 3b.  In the case of the rows of postholes to the west of the post circle (Houses 3, 4 and 5) no evidence of phasing was uncovered, but their alignment corresponded quite closely with that of Houses 1, 2 and 6, and all are thus assumed to form part of one settlement, whose plan consisted of houses set on either side of the road away from the Period 2 entrance.  None of the settings were completely regular.  House 2 and House 5 in particular contained pairs more widely spaced the other postholes in the group and House 3 and House 4 each had a pair of post holes stepped southwards of the general alignment. Post pipe packings survived in many of these post holes, and showed that the post might be placed eccentrically in the hole to compensate the irregularities in the spacing, but even this was not always sufficient to produce a straight row of posts.  Each could thus be argued that some or all of the "houses" shown in figure 5 were in fact separate contiguous buildings, perhaps of four or six posts as identified on a number of Iron Age sites (Stanford, 1970).  But between each "house" lay gaps greater than the spacing of pairs within each of the "houses": these gaps, together with the close correspondence in overall alignment within each "house" group in contrast with slight variations in direction between groups, make such a suggestion implausible.  Indeed, it has recently been argued that such variations in direction and construction within a single structure may indicate variations of function within the building - between house and byre, or between single and double storeyed portions of the house (Soudsky, 1969).  Arguments as to whether all the longhouses attributed to Period 2 were in fact strictly contemporary cannot be satisfactorily resolved: none of the buildings overlapped, and the suggested plan of the settlement (figure 6) reveals a regularity in the layout which very strongly indicates that all the longhouses were designed to form a single coherent settlement."

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