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Sunday, December 7, 2008

1982: a rampart comes to an end, or does my berm look big in this?

Two tiers of Iron Age wall are visible in this Phillpotts 1982 picture of Cutting AXVII. The nearer lower tier wall is the Period 3b rampart with tumble visible on the left from the end of the gangbreak. Above is the Period 2 wall. Having just re-read the relevant section of "Crickley Hill: the Hillfort Defences" (Dixon 1994) at pages 144 to 149, this gangbreak marked the end of the construction of the 3b rampart: "The team working on this part of the rampart were compelled to work very slowly removing stones and successively planning the result, in case the jumbled mass of stonework was not collapse but a badly built stretch of walling. During this process, at the eastern end closest to the ditch, a well-preserved south-facing vertical face suddenly appeared. The tumbled stones peeled from it, leaving large voids at the base, to demonstrate that they had fallen southwards from the lower tier of the rampart onto the inner side and berm* of the old ditch. The alignment of this new cross wall exactly matched the end of the recutting of the ditch and this it was clear that the Period 3b rebuilding of the rampart (and the concomitant recutting of the ditch) had proceeded no further than halfway across cutting AXVII, before coming to an end."

* berm: in mediaeval military engineering a berm (or berme) was a level space between a parapet or defensive wall and an adjacent steep-walled ditch or moat. It was intended to reduce soil pressure on the walls of the excavated part to prevent its collapse. It also meant that debris dislodged from fortifications would not fall into (and fill) a ditch or moat.
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