Springhall Lane causewayed enclosure


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016411

Date first listed: 16-May-1974

Date of most recent amendment: 08-Dec-1997


Ordnance survey map of Springhall Lane causewayed enclosure
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This copy shows the entry on 22-Jan-2019 at 18:31:23.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Hertfordshire

District: East Hertfordshire (District Authority)

Parish: Sawbridgeworth

National Grid Reference: TL 48327 13991


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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.

Although not visible on the ground, the Springhall Lane causewayed enclosure exhibits a wide variety of soil conditions in which buried features will survive and contain highly significant evidence related to the construction of the monument, its function and the duration of its use. The surrounding ditches, which have been identified from cropmarks over part of the circuit, retain evidence for the entrance ways and will contain artefacts reflecting the date and duration of occupation. Further information from buried features within the enclosure will provide insights into the nature of the community which built and used the monument. The semi-waterlogged area to the south is particularly important as it provides conditions suitable for the preservation of organic materials, including environmental evidence which will illustrate the appearance of the landscape in which the monument was set.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes a Neolithic causewayed enclosure located to either side of Springhall Lane to the south of Sawbridgeworth. It occupies the slope of a slight spur which faces south into the broad valley of the River Stort and over the flood meadows which flank the Stort Navigation. Although no earthworks can be seen on the ground, part of the enclosure's boundary of interrupted ditches (which typify this class of monument) was revealed by cropmarks in the field to the east of the Springhall Lane footpath in 1962. Aerial photographs taken at this time clearly show three parallel lines of segmented ditches, about 10m apart, descending the slope of the spur in a broad curve, starting near the junction of Springhall Lane (now at the southern corner of a modern housing estate) and continuing towards the south eastern corner of the field, altogether a distance of approximately 160m. The ditches in each line measure some 2m in width and are divided into segments which average 20m in length. The causeways which separate the ditch segments vary between 2m and 3m across and, unusually for this class of monument, their positions are closely matched in each circuit. Some of the ditches have slight inturned terminals which are thought to indicate formalised entrances to the enclosure. The extent of the enclosure to the west of Springhall Lane is uncertain. However, as this class of monument invariably takes the form of an ovoid or circular enclosure, it is estimated from the curvature of the visible section to extend some 60m-70m west of the lane before curving southwards towards the flood plain. The flood meadow itself has proven unreceptive to aerial photography, although it is possible that the enclosure lacked a formalised southern boundary and was deliberately sited to utilise the water course or marshes on one side for either practical or ritual purposes. The southern extent of the enclosure is therefore difficult to define, although the waterlogged conditions along this southern side will provide exceptional conditions for the preservation of features and artefacts related to the period of occupation. In order to include a sample of the area in which such remains can reasonably be expected to survive, the scheduling includes a margin along this side extending approximately 20m to the south of the pasture boundary at the foot of the slope. All fences, fenceposts, styles and gates are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


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

Legacy System number: 29391

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Megaw, JVS, Simpson, DDA, Introduction to British Prehistory, (1981), 80-85
Bradley, R, 'Current Archaeology' in Excavations at Clava, , Vol. 148, (1996), 136-142
MPP Monument Class Description, Darvill, T, Causewayed Enclosures, (1988)
oblique monochrome, CUCAP, AGA 76, (1962)

End of official listing