Reasons for Designation
Henges are ritual or ceremonial centres which date to the Late Neolithic
period (2800-2000 BC). They were constructed as roughly circular or oval-
shaped enclosures comprising a flat area over 20m in diameter enclosed by a
ditch and external bank. One, two or four entrances provided access to the
interior of the monument, which may have contained a variety of features
including timber or stone circles, post or stone alignments, pits, burials or
central mounds. Finds from the ditches and interiors of henges provide
important evidence for the chronological development of the sites, the types
of activity that occurred within them and the nature of the environment in
which they were constructed. Henges occur throughout England with the
exception of south-eastern counties and the Welsh Marches. They are generally
situated on low ground, often close to springs and water-courses. Henges are
rare nationally with about 80 known examples. As one of the few types of
identified Neolithic structures and in view of their comparative rarity, all
henges are considered to be of national importance.
Despite being reduced by ploughing, the monument 220m ESE of Herring's House
survives in good condition for this class of monument. Deeper features within
the interior will be well preserved and silts contemporary with the use of the
monument will survive in the buried ditches. The latter deposits in particular
provide favourable conditions for the recovery of artefacts and environmental
evidence which will provide rare information for the character and date of
construction and use of the monument and for the landscape in which it was
set. The henge is one of the best preserved of the five known examples in
Cambridgeshire, and its importance is enhanced both by its location on the
edge of Fulbourn Fen and its proximity to a Neolithic causewayed enclosure.
The monument includes a henge, defined by a series of concentric banks and
ditches. It is located towards the northern end of a low lying chalk
promontory which is raised slightly above the peat levels of the Fulbourn Fen
to the north, and surrounded to the north, east and west by tributaries of the
Little Wilbraham River.
Low, ploughed-down earthworks mark the location of the monument, but the henge
is most clearly observed from the air and is recorded on aerial photographs;
the following description is largely based on the photographic record. The
henge is approximately circular in plan and has maximum dimensions of 160m
north to south and 150m east to west. It comprises a C-shaped ditch, some 8m
in width, which is flanked on the inner side by a broad, c.18m wide bank. A
second narrower ditch, measuring approximately 6m across, is contained within
the circuit of the bank. Both the ditches and the bank are interrupted by a
30m wide gap in the north eastern arc which represents the single entrance to
the enclosure. The terminals of the outer ditch are slightly enlarged and
extend for approximately 10m to the north east to either side of the entrance
way. The southern terminal is flanked by a corresponding alteration in the
circuit of the internal bank. Two sections of a further external bank, also
about 18m in width, have been noted around the northern and southern arc of
the outer ditch, separated by a 60m wide gap on the opposite side to the
entrance. A small, three sided enclosure defined by a c.6m wide ditch is
located within the central area of the henge. This feature measures
approximately 30m square with the open side orientated towards the entrance.
Measurements taken on the ground indicate that the banks survive to a height
of c.0.2m-0.4m, and are characterised by concentrations of flint rubble and
gravels quarried from the underlying subsoil. The ditches can be identified as
areas of darker, less stony soil. Several flint artefacts, including a hand
axe of Neolithic date, have been found in the vicinity of the henge, and a
Neolithic causewayed enclosure lies approximately 1km to the north east.
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 5 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.