Monday, June 1, 2009

More from Crickley Hill and Gloucestershire Prehistory

Thanks to Philip Dixon and the Crickley Hill Trust for permission to reproduce the following abstract from " Crickley Hill and Gloucestershire Prehistory", published in 1977:

"Later Developments

After the destruction of Crickley’s second hillfort, perhaps about 500 BC, the site was again abandoned.  A few pieces of metalwork were found in the turf (Iron Age pins, a brooch, Roman sandal nails, and Anglo-Saxon dress ornaments) imply no more than transient visitors, and no permanent buildings have been recognized later than those of the last hillfort period.  No signs of planning have been noticed and the hill was presumably used only for grazing.  The burnt wooden buildings would soon have disappeared, but parts of the ramparts stood until the 3rd or 4th century AD, in their final collapse burying a small pig which was apparently rooting in the rubbish of the ruined entrance passage.

Changes meanwhile occurred in the settlements of Gloucestershire.  A new group of hill forts was built to the north, on Bredon Hill and the adjacent Cotswolds slopes.  No radiocarbon dates are available, but their pottery belongs to the 4th and 3rd century and later, and closely resembles the material from the forts of the Malverns and Herefordshire: the influences in the area seem to have shifted from east to west.  A discovery of great significance has recently been made at Beckford, near Bredon, where rescue excavations, in advance of gravel workings, have exposed parts of the large lowland settlement, whose houses were set within a regular grid of rectangular boundary ditches.  The arrangement resembles that at Dragonby, Lincs., and is the first clear occurrence of an eastern flat settlement in the West, an area otherwise dominated by hillforts.  The Beckford pottery is identical to that from the tiny fort at Conderton nearby, which can thus plausibly be seen as the citadel of the otherwise unfortified village.  No open settlement is yet known which might have been associated with the Crickley Hill fort.

Farther south, the small hill fort at Painswick Beacon, with its multiple lines of banks and ditches, is of a type associated with the latest Iron Age, but no dates are available for the site.  During the first century AD and new centre of settlement was formed at Bagendon, near Cirencester, a tribal capital 200 acres in extent within its banks, the predecessor of the Roman town.  An important family must have lived near Crickley at this period, for road making between Crickley and Birdlip in 1879 revealed a small cemetery of the early 1st century AD, whose rich grave goods are now displayed in Gloucester Museum.  No contemporary settlement site has been uncovered, and Crickley itself remained deserted until the foundation in the 2nd century AD of the small Roman farm whose branch boundaries may be traced within the wood to the east of the hillfort.

Further Reading

E. M. Clifford Bagendon (1961)

C.  Green 'The Birdlip Early Iron Age Burials', Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society XV (1949)

W.  Britnell 'Beckford',  Current Archaeology 45 (1974)

J.  Dyer Southern England: an archaeological guide (1973).  An excellent gazetteer and general guide"

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