Reasons for Designation
A small number of areas in southern England appear to have acted as foci for
ceremonial and ritual activity during the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age
periods. Two of the best known and earliest recognised, with references in the
17th century, are around Avebury and Stonehenge, now jointly designated as a
World Heritage Site. In the Avebury area, the henge monument itself, the West
Kennet Avenue, the Sanctuary, West Kennet long barrow, Windmill Hill
causewayed enclosure and the enigmatic Silbury Hill are well-known. Whilst the
other Neolithic long barrows, the many Bronze Age round barrows and other
associated sites are less well-known, together they define one of the richest
and most varied areas of Neolithic and Bronze Age ceremonial and ritual
monuments in the country.
The West Kennett Farm monuments belong to a class of Late Neolithic palisaded
enclosures, known examples of which are very rare. Archaeological surveys and
part excavations have shown that the monument contains extensive
archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction,
function and the landscape in which it was built.
The monument forms an integral part of Avebury's prehistoric landscape. It is
broadly contemporary with nearby monuments including the Avenue, the
Sanctuary, Avebury henge and Silbury Hill. Material suitable for dating has
been recovered from these and other monuments including Avebury, allowing a
detailed picture to emerge of the chronology of major monument building in the
The monument, which falls into three separate areas, includes the recorded
extent of two Late Neolithic palisaded enclosures, a linear radial ditch and a
small, circular, double-ditched enclosure, all situated in the Kennet Valley
at West Kennett Farm. The north east enclosure lies within 150m of the West
Kennett Avenue which leads from the Avebury henge to the henge known as `the
Sanctuary', 750m to the east.
Although no longer visible at ground level, the monument is known from aerial
photographs, part excavations and geophysical survey to survive buried below
the modern ground level. Of the two palisaded enclosures, the larger is to the
north east, and the smaller to the south west.
The north east enclosure (known as enclosure 1) has a pair of concentric
ditches which are cut by the present line of the River Kennet, believed to
have been much smaller in the Neolithic period than it appears today. The
outer ditch varies in width from 1.5m to 1.7m and where excavated was up to 3m
deep. Its inner edge was near vertical, while its outer edge was more gently
sloped. This would probably have helped in the insertion of the 30cm-40cm
diameter wooden posts which were set up in sockets 0.5m lower than the base of
the ditch. These were close-set with around five posts for every 3m of ditch.
Excavation shows that these posts were held in place by sarsen boulders and
packed chalk which was back filled into the ditch soon after it was opened.
The inner ditch was of similar construction and measured up to 1.9m wide and
2.7m deep. Pottery from this ditch was of the decorated `grooved ware' type.
Between the ditches, limited excavations revealed a 0.10cm-0.15m thick layer
of packed chalk forming a surface at least 10m across. This surface contained
a variety of animal bone and antler, which was particularly concentrated in an
area 1m by 3m across, as well as sherds of `grooved ware' pottery.
The area enclosed by these ditches is believed to be roughly circular,
measuring approximately 275m in diameter. However, the northern half of this
monument is not fully recorded and its north west quadrant cannot be
accurately plotted at present.
Enclosure 2, situated 10m to the south east of enclosure 1 and entirely south
of the present line of the River Kennet, is roughly oval and is aligned WNW-
ESE, with a long axis of approximately 350m and 208m across. It has a single
ditch which measures from 1.4m to 3m wide and, where excavated, up to 2.6m
deep. The posts in this ditch were larger, measuring from 0.5m to 0.8m in
diameter. Internally, aerial photographs show a series of ditches and other
features including a number of concentric circular features up to 50m in
diameter. These are particularly concentrated at the eastern end of the
enclosure, close to enclosure 1.
Running south east from the south east side of enclosure 2 is a linear ditch
about 0.9m wide and 1m deep. This contained posts similar to those in the
curved ditches around the enclosures and can be traced for 80m south east on
aerial photographs. There is then a gap before the ditch continues for about a
further 80m up to a double-ditched concentric enclosure with an outer diameter
of approximately 48m. These ditches contain a series of closely spaced posts
up to 0.5m in diameter and cut into the natural chalk up to 1m deep. The
centre of the enclosure appears, from the evidence of geophysical survey, to
contain a concentration of material or a pit. The enclosure is similar in size
to the Sanctuary.
Excluded from the scheduling are all above ground buildings including the
Grade II Listed barns, post and wire boundary fences, road and track surfaces,
below ground services and their trenches, although the ground beneath all
these features is included in the scheduling.
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.