Banjo enclosure, 330m south west of Manor Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Banjo enclosure, 330m south west of Manor Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Bedford (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SP 93012 56808

Reasons for Designation

Banjo enclosure is the term used by archaeologists for a distinctive type of prehistoric settlement. They were mostly constructed and used during the Middle Iron Age (400-100 BC), although some remained in use up to the time of the Roman Conquest (AD 43). Typical banjo enclosures have an oval or sub- rectangular central area, rarely greater than 0.4ha in size, encircled by a broad, steep-sided ditch and an external bank. There is characteristically a single entrance, approached by an avenue up to 90m long formed by out-turnings of the enclosure's ditch. The entrance to the avenue sometimes has further `antennae' ditches, giving a funnel-like appearance; or it may be connected to a transverse linear ditch. The enclosures resemble banjos when viewed in plan, hence their name. Excavated banjo enclosures have been found to contain evidence of habitation, evidence for wooden structures provided by post holes and drainage gullies, and storage and refuse pits. These features, together with the ditches, generally contain abundant artefacts, and can provide environmental evidence illustrating the landscape in which the monument was set, and the economy of its inhabitants. The enclosures are often associated with other types of Iron Age monuments, including other enclosures, field systems, trackways and other unenclosed settlement forms. Together, these monument types provide information concerning the diversity of social organisation and farming practices amongst prehistoric communities. Banjo enclosures are largely known from cropmarks and soilmarks recorded from the air, although a few survive as earthworks. Over 200 examples are recorded nationally, the majority of which are located in Wessex and around the upper Thames Valley: particular concentrations have been noted on the chalk downland of Hampshire. Elsewhere they are very rare, with isolated examples recorded in the Midlands and the north. The existence of further examples is likely to be confirmed by aerial photographic survey. Examples with significant surviving remains are considered worthy of protection, as are those representing the range of known types.

The banjo enclosure 330m south west of Manor Farm is a rare example of this class of monument, one of a very limited number of such sites known to exist to the west of Oxfordshire and to the north of the Thames Valley. Despite being reduced by ploughing, the enclosure and entrance ditches will survive as buried features which, together with the infilled features within the enclosure, will contain artefacts illustrating the use of the site and lives of its inhabitants. The proximity of the banjo enclosure to the course of the River Great Ouse is of particular interest. The river valley is known to have formed the focus for a wide variety of prehistoric activity, with numerous settlements, ritual monuments and burial grounds located along its length. Study of the various sites located within this landscape will provide a detailed picture of the development of prehistoric settlement patterns in the region.


The monument includes the buried remains of an Iron Age banjo enclosure located in the centre of a broad spur of high ground extending for some 4km to the east of the A509 (Olney to Bozeat Road); at the eastern end of which lies the village of Harrold and the course of the River Great Ouse. Although no earthworks can now be seen on the ground, the enclosure is clearly visible from the air as a cropmark, which has been recorded by aerial photography. The enclosure is defined by the position of a buried ditch, measuring approximately 2m-3m in width. It is roughly circular in plan with a maximum diamater of about 55m. The western part of the circuit is broken by an entranceway, about 12m in width, from either side of which the ditch extends for about 60m to form an approach or avenue orientated WSW along the top of the spur. The avenue is thought to have been connected to a trackway or field system arranged across the ridge, although the photographic evidence for this is obscured by the direction of ploughing. A sample of this area, 10m beyond the western end of the avenue, is therefore included in the scheduling in order to protect the archaeological relationship between these features. A number of small cropmarks have been noted within the enclosure, which are considered to indicate the locations of buried features such as storage or refuse pits. The buried remains of other features are also thought likely to survive, including traces of the foundations of timber structures in the enclosure and gateposts at the entrance.

MAP EXTRACT 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.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Conversation with the landowner, Northern, J, The Park Trackway, (1994)
Oblique monochrome (cropmarks), Field, K, 2715/36, (1984)
Oblique, monochrome (cropmarks), Northants County Council, 2505/27-8, 2521/5A-6, 2529/33, (1984)


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

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