Causewayed enclosure and Anglo-Saxon cemetery 500m ENE of Heath Place
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1009286
Date first listed: 19-Mar-1974
Date of most recent amendment: 29-Jul-1994
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Thurrock (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference: TQ 65156 80532
Reasons for Designation
Between 50 and 70 causewayed enclosures are recorded nationally, mainly in
southern and eastern England. They were constructed over a period of some 500
years during the middle part of the Neolithic period (c.3000-2400 BC) but also
continued in use into later periods. They vary considerably in size (from 2 to
70 acres) and were apparently used for a variety of functions, including
settlement, defence, and ceremonial and funerary purposes. However, all
comprise a roughly circular to ovoid area bounded by one or more concentric
rings of banks and ditches. The ditches, from which the monument class derives
its name, were formed of a series of elongated pits punctuated by unexcavated
causeways. Causewayed enclosures are amongst the earliest field monuments to
survive as recognisable features in the modern landscape and are one of the
few known Neolithic monument types. Due to their rarity, their wide diversity
of plan, and their considerable age, all causewayed enclosures are considered
to be nationally important.
The causewayed enclosure 500m ENE of Heath Place survives well beneath the plough soil. This has been confirmed from cropmark plots of aerial photographs and recent partial excavation which has left undisturbed 90% of the monument. These excavations produced much information concerning the original form and construction of the monument as well as discovering quantities of Neolithic flint tools and pottery sherds. There are only two causewayed enclosures known in Essex and so the information contained within this monument can give rare insights into the economy of the locality as well as the social and religious life of the people who occupied it. The establishment of an Iron Age settlement site here is also of great interest and indicates that the site had been adapted for a variety of uses throughout its long life. The construction of an Anglo-Saxon barrow cemetery within the inner circuit of the causewayed enclosure indicates that it was still a significant site for the local population 3,000 years after it was first constructed. This group of burials is one of only a small number of known Saxon barrow groups in East Anglia. This cemetery is particularly representative of the middle Anglo-Saxon period (7th - 8th century) and will provide rare evidence for social and burial practices at this date.
The monument includes a Neolithic causewayed enclosure and an Anglo-Saxon
round barrow cemetery situated on a natural platform on the Thames terraces.
The land slopes gently away from the monument towards the south into the
valley of a small tributary of the Thames. To the east and west it slopes into
smaller dry valleys.
Although there are no visible earthworks at ground level the monument survives as buried features which have been recognised as cropmarks from aerial photographs. These include three roughly circular concentric interrupted ditches (i.e.they are not continuous but are, rather, crossed by causeways at irregular intervals), enclosing an area at least 160m in diameter. The outer two ditches are 10m apart. A palisade trench lies between the inner and middle ditches. This palisade trench has three breaks in it, coinciding with those in the outer ditches. The inner ditch is between 30m and 40m from the middle ditch and encloses an area measuring between 80m and 95m across. Other internal features such as postholes and pits can be seen within the enclosed area on aerial photographs. Also visible on aerial photographs, within the southern half of the inner circuit, are at least 5 round barrows represented by ring ditch cropmarks. These are between 8m and 13m in diameter with a circular ditch from 1m-2m wide and up to 0.35m deep.
In 1975 trial trenching and small scale excavation took place in order to verify the interpretation of the monument. Parts of the ditches and palisade slot were excavated which confirmed their Neolithic date. A continuous bank was found to have been originally constructed on the berm between the two outer ditches, the material for which was quarried from the interrupted ditches. The palisade was an additional, contemporary, defensive feature inside the middle ditch. Within the enclosed area various pits and post holes were investigated. A number of the features identified during excavation were shown to be Iron Age in date. A period of Early Iron Age settlement was followed in the Middle Iron Age by an enclosed settlement within a rectilinear ditched enclosure, which lies within the southern part of the monument. In addition, two of the five ring ditches were fully excavated and were found to represent round barrows containing Saxon inhumation burials in wooden coffins.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 10 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: 24868
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Hedges, J, Buckley, D, Excavations at a Neolithic Causewayed Enclosure, Orsett, Essex, (1978)
Hedges, J, Buckley, D, 'PPS 44, 1978, 219-308' in Excavations at a Neolithic Causewayed Enclosure, Orsett, Essex., (1978)
Hedges, J, Buckley, D, 'Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society' in Excavations at a Neolithic Causewayed Enclosure, Orsett, Essex., , Vol. 44, (1975), 219-308
Cambridge University Collection, CUCAP 161/652 805, (1970)
CUCAP 161/652805, (1970)
CUCAP K17 U 117, (1970)
Essex SMR PRN 5162,
Essex SMR PRN 5158,
NMR 6481/6/425, (1976)
NMR TQ6481/6/425, (1976)
NMR TQ6481/6/426, (1976)
NMR TQ6880/31/411, (1976)
NMR, NMR TQ6881/6/425-6, (1976)
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