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Monday, October 19, 2009

An Enclosure on Crickley Hill Gloucestershire



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C-H-M recently acquired, from a second-hand bookseller, a copy of an abstract of Elsie Clifford's 1964 paper in the Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, inscribed on the cover "With love & many thanks from Elsie". It would be interesting to know to whom she sent it. The first part of the paper reads:

"An Enclosure on Crickley Hill Gloucestershire By E. M. Clifford, F.S.A.
From TRANSACTIONS OF THE BRISTOL AND GLOUCESTERSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY, Volume 83, 1964

A SERIES of earthworks on Crickley Hill in the parish of Coberley Gloucestershire at an altitude of about 800 feet O.D. (Nat: Grid : Ref: ST935165) are not marked on the Ordnance Survey maps and no reference to them has hitherto been made. They originally formed part of the Ullenwood Estate. My attention was first drawn to them by the Misses Trafford in 1948 who then lived at Dryhill just below these earthworks and close to the site of the Dryhill Roman Villa, which was excavated in 1849 by W. H. Gomonde, the report on which was privately printed. (1) The Villa was described as a Villa Rustica, in contrast to the courtyard type Villa at nearby Witcombe, which had been excavated by Lysons in 1818. ( 2) Gomonde states that he opened a barrow nearby and that Lysons opened a long barrow, so called by Sir Richd Hoare, presumably the Crippets, but no account of either of these excavations was published. The Crippets, which lies less than half a mile to the north, is one of the largest long barrows in the Severn-Cotswold group. There are other round barrows in the vicinity, presumably of the Bronze Age.

The Early Iron Age camps on Leckhampton and perhaps on Birdlip are comparatively close, while the Crickley Hill camp almost adjoins the site under discussion. The coins from the excavation of the Dryhill Villa showed that there was occupation of the 3rd and 4th centuries A.D.; a notable find being a tile, which, it has been suggested, was stamped R(es) P(ublica) G(levensis) (3) and was therefore a product of the colonia of Glevum and might serve as a clue to its territorium. All the objects from the Gomonde excavation, however, are lost. (4)

ln 1951 Mr G. T. Harding also drew my attention to these earthworks and in view of the fact that the ditch was inside the rampart, with nothing to indicate their date and that there was what appeared to be a much ruined Bronze Age round barrow on the line of the rampart and filled-in ditch, I decided an examination would be justified.

Work began in August 1951 for two weeks and continued intermittently whenever weather permitted, until it was completed in 1952. As the owner, Mr G. Hewinson, was abroad, permission to excavate was given by his solicitors.

The earthwork on the south-west side forms the boundary between The Scrubs and Short Wood (5), the dividing wall being actually built on the rampart. On the north-west side the dividing wall follows the line of the earthwork and only at one point is the wall built on the rampart.
On the south-east side the Birdlip-Cheltenham road follows its general line and the east corner governs the line of a trackway or bridlepath which, before reaching Shurdington, becomes a highway leading to Badgeworth and beyond. The general line of the earthwork appears as a broad dark strip on the air-photograph. On the north-west side another bridle-way passes close to the outer side of the earthworks and runs from Birdlip across the Crickley Hill road and joins the just trackway north of the earthworks.

The earthwork on the north-west side runs for half a mile almost without interruption and it is only for a short distance that it has been partially destroyed by agriculture, when, at some unknown date, a small clearing in the wood was made. It has now reverted to scrub. The earthwork on this side as well as on the south-west is quite impressive and it is probably because both are in a dense wood that they have never been recorded. On the north-east side the rampart can be traced, although it has been and still is, regularly ploughed. An air-photograph shows it very clearly. In the south-east corner, cultivation and a well-used cricket ground have practically destroyed it. There is an entrance near the north corner, as marked on the plan, from which a trackway runs down to a spring below. It is immediately above the site of the Dryhill Roman Villa.

The area possibly enclosed contains approximately 100 acres.

(1) W. H. Gomonde. Copy in Gloucestershire Collection Public Library, Gloucester.
(2) Archaeologia xix pp. 178 ff Trans. BGAS, Lxxiii, pp. I ff
(3) EE, iv, p. 700 ; EE, ix p. 650 JRS, xlv p. 72
(4) Gomonde also illustrates an E.I.A. terret.
(5) The National Trust own 36 1/2 acres of The Scrubs, and Short Wood is owned by Mr W. G. Carter.
(6) Information from Mr L. Richardson."

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