Late Bronze Age enclosure at Queen Mary's Hospital, Carshalton
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1003313
Date first listed: 28-Apr-1988
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
County: Greater London Authority
District: Sutton (London Borough)
National Grid Reference: TQ 27972 62348
Late Bronze Age Springfield style enclosure at Orchard Hill, 142m ENE of Fountain School
Reasons for Designation
Springfield style enclosures are roughly circular enclosures, typically found on a hilltop or spur and dating to the Middle/Late Bronze Age, with some occupied into the Early Iron Age. They are named after the type site at Springfield, Essex, one of the few examples in the country which has been fully excavated. They are characterised by either single or double enclosure ditches with simple internal or external banks or box ramparts. Within the enclosure, one or more circular buildings may be found with numerous pits and postholes. Their function appears to be domestic and such sites will yield archaeological and environmental information about the lifestyle of the communities living in them. They are found in eastern England, usually surviving as cropmark sites visible through aerial photography, and are thought to number no more than fifty in total. All surviving examples are considered to be of national importance and will merit protection.
Despite disturbance and damage by later development, the Late Bronze Age Springfield style enclosure at Orchard Hill survives well. It is one of the largest of its type in south-east England and perhaps the most significant of its period in Greater London and the Lower Thames Valley. Only a small part of the interior of the enclosure has been excavated and as such it holds potential for further investigation. It will contain archaeological and environmental information relating to its construction, use and history and to the landscape in which it was constructed. Given the rarity of such sites it will provide significant evidence relating to the nature of human occupation and activity in the Late Bronze Age.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 30 July 2014. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.
The monument includes a Late Bronze Age Springfield style enclosure surviving as below-ground remains. It is situated on a hilltop, Orchard Hill, formed by a cap of Thanet Sand, overlying chalk, and overlooks much of the surrounding area including Little Woodcote to the south. The site was discovered during the construction of buildings for Queen Mary’s Hospital in 1903.
The enclosure is broadly circular in plan. It is denoted by a V-shaped ditch, which has become in-filled and survives as a buried feature. The ditch is up to about 2.1m deep and 3.6m wide, enclosing an area approximately 150m in diameter. In the in-fill of the ditch are the remains of what is considered to be a collapsed chalk block rampart, which formed the facing of a bank. Later ploughing may have levelled this bank, which would have run along the inside of the ditched enclosure. An entrance is thought to be located in the south-east side of the enclosure, evident by a break in the ditch. The finds recovered in association with the enclosure indicate that it was constructed in the Late Bronze Age between 1000 BC and 800 BC.
Partial excavation was carried out on and in the vicinity of the site in 1903-4, 1937-9, 1989, 1990, 1993, 1995, 1998 and 1999. Only a small part of the interior of the enclosure has been excavated. Similar sites have revealed one or two large post-built circular buildings, although settlement may have concentrated outside these enclosures. The earliest finds at Orchard Hill include Mesolithic and early Neolithic worked flints. A Late Bronze Age pit containing pottery, burnt and struck flint, and burnt animal bone fragments has been identified within the interior of the enclosure.
Outside the enclosure and beyond the limits of the constraint area a number of features have been discovered. To the north Prehistoric pottery and worked flints have been found in pits and ditches. Two quarries have been identified and are likely to have provided chalk for the rampart of the enclosure. Late Bronze Age pottery, perforated clay slabs and struck flints have been found in a linear feature and layer of hillwash to the south. Other finds include loomweights, saddle querns, a whetstone, an amber bead and items of Bronze metalwork. Cremation burials have also been recovered to the north and south. Other finds such as Saxon, Iron Age and Roman pottery sherds may be indicative of later occupation in the area. Geophysical survey in 1999 identified 23 possible archaeological features in association with the site. It has been suggested that the enclosure was strategically located to control the surrounding downland. The Carshalton area has been recognised, through the number of metalwork hoards and finds, as a place of comparative wealth and power in the Late Bronze Age. The enclosure shows similarity in form to Bronze Age examples at Mucking and Springfield Lyons in Essex.
Further archaeological remains survive in the vicinity of this site but are not included because they have not been formally assessed.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: LO 163
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
Books and journals
Groves, J, Lovell, J, 'London Archaeologist, Vol 10-01, 13-19' in Excavations within and close to the Late Bronze Age enclosure at the former Queen Mary’s Hospital, Carshalton, 1999, London , (2002)
Greater London SMR MLO76445, 021623/00/00, 021622/00/00, 030231/00/00, 030208/00/00, 030313/00/00, 030260/01/00, 021311/00/00, 030260/00/00, 030272/00/00, 030260/03/000. NMR TQ26SE19. PastScape 400733,
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing